No Celo Tape: Lizard Skins 3.2mm DSP Bar Tape

No Celo Tape: Lizard Skins 3.2mm DSP Bar Tape

When I was 12 I had the wisdom of a squirrel, in that I was as completely without wisdom as a human being in good health could be. Even so, I knew that a thin ribbon of celo tape wrapped around the chromed handlebar of my AMF 10-speed did little to increase my comfort. Even when I used an entire roll of tape per side, my increase in comfort was as measurable as compassion in John Wayne Gacy. Sigh.

I hated that my bar tape was padded as a fork, that it had no adhesive and slid on the chrome, that it tore like paper. The only thing about my handlebar tape that I didn’t lament way back in our bicentennial year was that it was orange and matched my bike.

So it’s not a stretch to say I’ve been obsessed with handlebar tape and proper technique for wrapping bars ever since Schoolhouse Rock was on TV.

Two seasons ago I got on a review bike and thought to myself, “Oh wow, how nice; they double-wrapped the bar for me.” What I would come to appreciate a couple of months later was that the bar had been wrapped with Lizard Skins’ DSP tape. Lizard Skins offers their DSP tape in three different thicknesses: 1.8mm, which is perfect for anyone who wants padding, but not too much padding; most tape out there is in the 1.8 to 2.0mm range. It’s a great choice for people with smaller hands. The 2.5mm thickness is noticeably thicker than most tape. It’s really nice stuff for a road bike.

But what of cyclocross and gravel bikes? I like a bit more padding, when possible and the Lizard Skins 3.2mm DSP bar tape is the thickest stuff I’ve encountered; it genuinely feels like the bar has been double-wrapped.

The DSP tape is a laminate of traditional EVA foam like most bar tapes and then their Dura-Soft polymer cover that makes the Lizard Skins tape easy to wash. Trying to wash mud and dirt out of EVA foam after a ‘cross race or gravel event is a recipe for frustration (and failure). I can always get the stuff cleaner, but never back to clean.

There is a wrinkle caused by the laminate, though. You can’t stretch the DSP tape the way you would typical EVA foam tape as the polymer cover will separate from the foam. What that means is that wrapping the DSP tape takes both patience and care. When wrapping, there will be an edge of the tape that doesn’t completely embrace the bar. To address that, I learned that I needed to wrap deeper coils, covering about 50 percent of the previous wrap. Even so, that’s not foolproof as until recently, the DSP tape had a 4mm-wide adhesive strip. I noticed that sometimes the tape would slip some. They recently widened it to 8mm, which better reflects what other tapes are doing, and that will prevent the slip I have previously experienced.

The fact that one edge of the tape often doesn’t lay flat actually contributes to how padded the bar feels. At 3.2mm thick, this isn’t double the thickness of most other tapes, but that’s a good thing; I believe that if it was truly twice the thickness it would be too thick to securely grip for many of us.

I’m still happy running the 2.5mm-thick tape on road bikes, but the 3.2mm tape is perfect for gravel bikes and ‘cross bikes. Obviously, thick tape can’t cure a road that is more patched potholes than actual road, but if anything can make a difference, this tape does. The 3.2mm tape also gets a different surface texture than the thinner tapes, making it easier to grip.

One other truly handy detail to the Lizard Skins tape is that you get 89 inches of it, which is a good four inches more than with many other tapes. The upshot is that you have plenty of tape to overlap as you wrap, while still leaving enough tape to wrap a figure-eight around the lever body.

I suppose some people will flinch at the $45.99 price tag for the 3.2mm tape (the 1.8 and 2.5mm tape starts at $41.99). What helps to justify that price is that it is easy to clean up the tape with a brush and soapy water and will last for years. I just recently replaced the tape on one bike that had been on for almost two full seasons, and honestly, it was still perfectly serviceable.

Final thought: Thieves aren’t this thick.


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  1. Paul

    I had Lizard Skins DSP on my Cento Uno Air. I looked and felt nice new, but had worn thru’ the covering in less than a year (4000 miles) and no wet rides. I swapped it for Fizik tape and this has worked well for much longer.

  2. scott g

    If the tape slips, use a layer of electricians friction tape as a base layer.

    I used the Lizard tape once, it does wear thru, I wrapped a layer
    of cloth over it. Nice cushion.

  3. W

    Wow,so surprised to hear you say it will “last for years”. I have run the DSP on several bikes at different times and while I love the feel, it’s been the fastest wearing tape I have ever encountered. So nice when new though….

  4. Grego

    I love the idea of the same tape being available in different thicknesses, instead of having to resort to a different product; one could, for example, make the tops softer than the drops without a visible difference. Can anyone say if the DSP is nicer than Supacaz or Silic1? Those are my reference tapes at present.

  5. John

    Always been a fan of Lizard products. But the two layer system of this product had no lasting power, it was toast in weeks. I would rate it a fail. And yes I started with cello tape as well. Fizik microtex Classic is the Best product I have found. Rubbing alcohol and a clean rag keep it white for a season easily 7000 ish miles.

  6. Author

    Given how many of you have had trouble with the durability of the DSP tape, I wonder more what it is that I’m not doing than what someone else is doing wrong. I’ve had terrific luck with it so far, and if there’s a bike on which it is likely to be abused, it has to be one of my gravel bikes. I’m sorry to hear others have had bad experience with it.

    Scott G: that’s great advice, but maybe won’t be as necessary now that they use a wider adhesive strip.

    Grego: My experience with Supacaz is limited and I have none with Silic1, but I’d say if you’ve found your way there, you’re doing alright.

    Regarding the Fi’zi:k Microtex tape, while I was impressed with the quality and certainly its durability, it was the least comfortable modern tape I’ve used. And their idea of 3mm isn’t at all in the same category as the 3.2mm DSP tape. I can’t figure how .2mm can add so much thickness.

    1. Fritz

      Agreed on your DSP and Microtex assessment.

      I get 1-2 full seasons on the 3mm Lizard Skins. Awesome stuff!

  7. Lmac

    I’ve used dsp twice and certainly appreciated the comfort, though I do not recall the thickness. But i also gave up because of durability. The first time I used it, I had the bike up against a tree in a grassy field and it fell over. Not a crash, just a little tip over but on the side that hit the grass the tape was shredded right down to the bar- it was like I wrapped it in tissue paper. That was my fault so I gave it another go and bought some more. After a few hundred miles the outer layer started to peel away at the curve of the bar were it transitions from the flats into the hoods. That’s most certainly where I spend a lot of time and where my tape usually starts to wear, but never so soon. For almost 50 bucks I need it to last longer. I want to mention that I was very conscientious of not stretching the tape per the instructions (even though it makes it a pain to work with). I went right back to fizik and haven’t looked back. I find microtex to be very comfortable so I think we have different preferences in that regard. That said, you might want to give a look to the new Fizik bondcush which is more cushy than I normally care for, but which has definitely grown on me since using on my gravel bike (though it is also a nuisance to work with because of its density).

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