Best Handlebar Tape Reviewed 2020

Your control of your handlebars significantly dictates how well your riding experience turns out because they play a substantial role in the comfort, aerodynamics, and handling of your bicycle.

It’s essential, therefore, that you invest in high-quality tape to wrap around your handlebar. Not only will the tape give your bike a fresh look and feel, but, more importantly, it will also help you maneuver it (and yourself) safely and easily through high speeds and tricky turns.

To help you get one for your bike, we’ve gathered a selection of the best handlebar tapes in the market today, plus a short buying guide to help you zoom in on the right one for you.

TLDR – Top Pick

For us, the best handlebar tape is the Cinelli Special Edition handlebar tape.

Sale
Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape
Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape

    Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

    What to Consider Before Buying a Handlebar Tape

    It may be easy picking out your favorite color and texture from a lineup of tapes you see online or in stores, but there’s actually a whole slew of factors to consider first so you don’t end up wasting your dollars.

    Material

    Bar tapes, as you’ll soon discover (if you don’t already know), come in several materials, each of which contribute to how securely the grip feels or how comfortable your handlebars are to the touch.

    Cork

    Cork is one of the materials from which bar tapes were mostly made of in the past. It’s still one of the most commonly used today for the classic look and added comfort it provides as it is very soft and well-cushioned. 

    Although they have limitations because they tend to absorb more sweat and dirt, some cyclists still prefer them for their affordability and the ease with which they can be wrapped.

    EVA Foam

    Bar tapes made of this material offer comfort – that is its primary selling point. EVA foam tapes are typically thick as they have a layer of gel material within them, making them ideal for cyclists who like to ride on rough and bumpy terrain.

    While they usually also have ridged textures, which adds to the grip, they will tend to be on the expensive side and are more difficult to install as they’re not as stretchy as cork tapes.

    Polyurethane Synthetics

    These are lighter and more durable as they’re usually mixed in with nylon and silicone, plus foam or gel cores. This combination provides excellent grip, extra cushion and comfort, and the capacity to absorb vibrations and shock caused by riding on uneven terrain.

    The most significant benefit of using polyurethane is the excellent grip it provides, even when your handlebars are soaked in sweat or rain. 

    Microfiber

    Tapes made of microfiber material will last a long time and are comfortable to the touch. Manufacturers can also play at adding more design features on these tapes, offering more colors and textures without compromising performance.

    Leather 

    Like cork, leather is also the material used in manufacturing earlier versions of handlebar tapes. They’re extremely firm and strong and won’t wear out early. You’ll need to break them in, though, so they can start softening and provide some cushioning. 

    But their firmness also contributes to the difficulty associated with installing them on your handlebars. If you’re looking for extreme cushioning, you should mark leather tapes off your list as they will hardly be able to absorb vibrations.

    Despite these, some cyclists still prefer leather over other materials as they give bikes a classic, sharp look and are great to the touch.

    Grip

    The grip level, or security of handling your bike’s position, will mostly depend on the material from which your bar tape is made of. Microfiber materials, as mentioned earlier, will most likely have more texture applied to their finish, providing more grip.

    Some tapes will have perforations, as well, to provide extra purchase to the handlebar, and give some room for sweat and moisture to strip away from the handlebar and add an extra level of safety.

    Thickness

    Thickness can range from around 1mm to 3.5mm. The thicker the tape, the more cushioning (and comfort) it provides for the hands and wrists. 

    While some cyclists, specifically leisure riders,  prefer extra cushioning, other riders like racers, will look for thinner tapes of around 1mm to 2mm as they provide a more direct connection to the bike and ‘road feel’.

    If you don’t want to compromise comfort, look for tapes around 2.5mm to 3.2mm thick. Consider also the span of time it usually takes for you to finish your ride. If you usually take long-distance rides, your handlebar’s tape should be on the thicker side to avoid getting painful blisters and sore palms.

    Backing

    Most tapes you’ll find in the market will have either an adhesive or sticky gel strip on the back so they don’t shift uncomfortably during rides. The gel strips will provide more cushioning and shock absorbent features, but the adhesives are preferable if you like to ride fast and want your tapes to stay put regardless of the weather.

    Some tapes will come with no adhesive backing at all, which some cyclists prefer because these will still stick to the handlebars but with the added benefit of leaving no residue once you remove them for replacement.

    Color and Design

    Although black is the general color preferred by most cyclists as dirt isn’t as visible on them compared to other lighter colors, there’s a wide variety of colors that bar tapes in the market now come in. 

    Whether you prefer the muted black colors, want to match the colors accented in some parts of your bike, or prefer your handlebars to have a distinct look with a louder shade of color, that’s totally up to you. Either way, there is no shortage of color variations.

    Just remember, dirt and grime will show more easily on lighter colors. If you can’t afford the time to wash your bike more often, it’s probably preferable to get a darker shade as you can just install it and it’ll stay looking good for a long while.

    Depending on the material of the bar tape you prefer, most will also come in several textures to choose from. 

    7 Best Handlebar Tapes Reviewed

    Now that you know what factors to consider when choosing handlebar tapes for your bike, it’s time to run through our recommendations in the section that follows.

    1. Domain Extra Long Gel Handlebar Tape

    Key Features

    • Made of polyurethane leather surface with EVA foam and Vex-Gel liner
    • Includes end plugs and finishing tape
    • No adhesive backing
    • 3mm thickness
    • 8 color variants available

    Domain Cycling Store claims this is the longest bicycle handlebar tape ever sold. At approximately 94 inches long per roll (a single purchase comes with two!) and a width of 1.2 inches, they may very well be spewing truth – not myth.

    This extra-long tape made of anti-slip material offers a secure grip regardless of the wet or dry season. The EVA foam and Vex-Gel inner lining provide added comfort and shock absorption. And If you prefer your tapes to come without adhesive backing, then this should be the one you get.

    Excellent for road bikes, this bar tape comes in 8 color variations to suit any preference.

    Pros

    • Easy to wrap, stretches nicely
    • Excellent cushioning and comfort
    • Sticks even without adhesive backing
    • Molds tightly and stays put

    Cons

    • Finishing tape may not hold adequately
    • May be a bit pricey
    Domain Cycling Extra Long Gel Bicycle Handlebar Bar Tape Wrap for Road Bikes and Cycling (Black)
    Domain Cycling Extra Long Gel Bicycle Handlebar Bar Tape Wrap for Road Bikes and Cycling (Black)

      Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

      2. BV EVA Foam Handlebar Wraps

      Key Features

      • Made of EVA foam material with embossed “BV” logo
      • Includes end plugs and finishing tape
      • 3M adhesive backing included
      • 2.5mm thickness
      • 2 color variants available

      Next on the list is BV’s pair of handlebar tape made of EVA foam. Each roll is approximately 82.67inches long and also comes with its own pair of finishing tapes and end plugs for a clean smooth look.

      The material lends to its ultra light feel while being durable enough to resist fading, water damage, and UV radiation. It’s approximately 2.5mm thick, excellent in absorbing vibrations and shock during cycling.

      It’s also very easy to wrap around your handlebars with the handy 3M adhesive tape backing so you’ll be sure it stays fitting snugly even through rigorous rides. And the anti-slip feature of this tape will make sure your grip stays safe and comfortable while riding under a downpour. 

      You’ll never look for another tape again once you use this for your road bike’s handlebars because you’ll feel a marked difference in the lessening of the wrist fatigue and hand pressure you feel during long bumpy rides.

      Pros

      • Great value for money 
      • Ultra comfortable grip
      • Breezy wrapping process, sturdy but stretch
      • 3M adhesive works excellently

      Cons

      • Can get damaged when partially unwrapped to replace a part in the handlebar
      • Finishing tape may be too short
      BV EVA Road Bike Handlebar Tapes, Bicycle Bar Tape, Cycling Handle Wraps – 2 Rolls per Set (Black)
      BV EVA Road Bike Handlebar Tapes, Bicycle Bar Tape, Cycling Handle Wraps – 2 Rolls per Set (Black)

        Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

        3. Brooks England Microfiber Handlebar Tape

        Key Features

        • Made of synthetic microfiber material
        • Includes trademark vulcanized rubber end plugs
        • Adhesive backing included
        • 3mm thickness
        • 3 color variants available

        If you’re looking to revamp the look and feel of your handlebars, this microfiber bar tape from Brooks England may just do the trick.

        Manufactured from a synthetic fabric with perforated holes and treated with polyurethane coating to provide optimum resistance against scratches, moisture, and wet weather, it offers excellent hard-wearing qualities.  

        It’s 215mm (8.46 inches) long and 30mm (1.18 inches) wide, and comes with a pair of Brooks England’s vulcanized rubber end plugs to complete the look.

        At 3mm thickness, this tape will give your hands and wrists ultra comfort even as you work your bike through steep descents and rocky mountain sides.

        It’s easy to install, too. With an adhesive cotton strip backing that maintains adhesion even after unwrapping it several times from your handlebars, you know it’ll stay put even through the most rigorous rides you experience.

        Suitable for commuter bikes, road cycling, traveling long distances, and out-of-the-way locations, this tape will fit standard road bikes or any other drop-bar bike.

        Pros

        • Lightweight
        • Excellent grip and control
        • Gives off a sharp and vintage look
        • Tapered sides maximizes cushioning while minimizing wear on the edges

        Cons

        • Installation may require heavy tension
        • End plugs may not be suitable for all handlebars
        • May not be long enough, check dimensions
        Sale
        Brooks England Microfiber Bar Tape
        Brooks England Microfiber Bar Tape

          Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

          4. Cinelli Cork Handlebar Tape

          Key Features

          Made of insulating cork material

          • Provides excellent vibration dampening and padding
          • Adhesive backing included
          • 2.75mm thickness
          • 24 variations available

          This cork handlebar tape by Cinelli has been living up to its award-winning reputation since 1987, providing excellent vibration dampening and padding for the most comfortable ride.

          The Vibra-Absorb gel layer on the inner part of the tape’s surface makes it thick and soft to the touch, ensuring more shock absorbing capabilities than the original Cinelli. 

          Installation is a breeze as it has a strip of adhesive centered on the back of about a third of the tape’s width.

          It’s a lightweight tape weighing only 65 grams and comes with end plugs and finishing strips. It’s also long enough to cover a standard full drop bar and even ones with flared or wider grips.

          Pros

          • Sturdy yet comfortable
          • Varied selection will suit any taste
          • Provides excellent grip even in wet weather

          Cons

          • Finishing tapes may not be as adhesive as the tape
          • End plugs included may not seal in securely
          • Finishing tape may not adhere securely, will need to install properly
          Cinelli Cork Camo Handlebar Tape
          Cinelli Cork Camo Handlebar Tape

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            5. Kingou PU Leather Handlebar Tape

            Key Features

            • Made from PU leather material 
            • Breathable, anti-slip, sweat-absorbent
            • Non-adhesive backing 
            • 2.794mm (0.11″) thickness
            • 8 variations available

            If your hands easily get tired from gripping handlebars with poor tape on your long rides, it’s probably time to get this quality tape by Kingou.

            This handlebar tape is another great pick as it’s made of PU leather on the outer surface, making it anti-slip and provides high tensile strength. The inner lining is made of EVA foam material, which makes it very cushiony to the touch. The soft material is perfect for mitigating vibrations from high-speed or uneven-terrain rides, effectively reducing fatigue on your hands.

            As this is leather, you may need time to break it in and it should soften up some more with time. 

            Although it has a non-adhesive backing, it’ll still stay securely attached to your handlebars. Not to mention the added benefit of being able to wrap or unwrap it if you make an error in judgement – all without having to deal with a sticky residue.

            A single purchase will get you two rolls at about 79″ each, two finishing adhesive tapes, and a pair of end plugs made of ABS plastic that’s coated with metal reflective material.

            Pros

            • Very comfortable grip
            • Doesn’t easily get grime or dirt
            • Easy to align and re-wrap
            • Makes bike look clean and new

            Cons

            • Finishing tape may have weaker grasp than desired
            • May not be long enough, check dimensions
            • May be too thin for some cyclists
            KINGOU Brown Synthetic Leather Road Bike Handlebar Tape Bicycle Bar Wraps - 2PCS Per Set
            KINGOU Brown Synthetic Leather Road Bike Handlebar Tape Bicycle Bar Wraps - 2PCS Per Set

              Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

              6. Fizik Performance Microtex Handlebar Tape

              Key Features

              • Made from Microtex material 
              • Versatile and performance-oriented
              • Self-adhesive backing
              • 2-3mm thickness
              • 19 variations available

              The Fizik Tempo Microtex handlebar tape is a popular choice among cyclists. It’s made of super versatile and durable perforated leather-like material that ensures your performance on the bike is unparalleled. 

              As stated, it’s only 2mm thick, so it may not provide as much cushion for some cyclists. But this tape is perfect for roadies for the same reason, as the thin strip allows racers superior handling and control of the bicycle.

              It’s super easy to wrap around your bars with its self-adhesive back. The perforation on the outer surface helps with overlapping it evenly, too, so you won’t have a hard time guesstimating your way through the process.

              The Tempo bar tapes provide a classic traditional look, and its smooth surface will allow you to transition smoothly during your bike rides. 

              It comes in 19 varying colors and designs that will surely fit any cyclist’s taste and preference, and is long enough to fit standard drop bars.

              Pros

              • Subtle style and thin, non-bulky finish
              • Perfect for aero-shaped bars
              • Excellent grip and anti-slip balance
              • Good value for money

              Cons

              • Not as much stretch, may require much tension when wrapping
              • End plugs may not fit all handlebars
              Sale
              Fizik Tempo Microtex Classic - 2mm Bike Handlebar Tape, Orange
              Fizik Tempo Microtex Classic - 2mm Bike Handlebar Tape, Orange

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                7. Cinelli Special Edition Handlebar Tape

                Key Features

                • Made from Elastomer compound
                • Leather-like look and feel
                • Adhesive backing
                • 2.5mm thickness
                • 34 variations available

                We couldn’t skip this special edition handlebar tape from Cinelli as it just may become your favorite in the bunch. It’s made from Elastomer compound, an elasticized fabric that has both elastic and viscous properties, making it both flexible and resilient. 

                It’s extremely comfortable and will absorb moisture from sweat and wet weather so you’ll still grip the handlebars securely even in those conditions.

                It’s easy to wrap with its adhesive backing, and is long enough to fully cover a full drop handlebar. It comes with end plugs emblazoned with the Cinelli logo and finishing strips. 

                The 34 variations available won’t hurt your bike’s appearance, too, as they’re all well-styled and designed to suit every cyclist’s aesthetic requirements.

                Pros

                • Looks incredible
                • Doesn’t stain easily
                • Provides excellent grip
                • Wraps evenly and easily

                Cons

                • Finishing tapes may not be adequate
                • May be a bit pricey
                • Graphics on some designs may wear off with time
                Sale
                Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape
                Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape

                  Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                  Our Top Pick

                  Choosing the right bar tape can make a huge difference in your riding experience. Like we said in the beginning, the handlebars will be the part of your bike you’ll constantly come in contact with, so it’s worth investing in comfort AND security.

                  Look for tapes that will cushion your hands and wrists from fatigue for the typical length of time you’re usually on your bike. But make sure you don’t compromise on the grip, too, because this will provide you with safety and allow you full control of your bike during your rides.

                  For us, the best handlebar tape in this bunch is the Cinelli Special Edition handlebar tape. We can’t refute its name, it really is special. It’s made of a durable blend of materials, does what it’s supposed to, and is available in both loud and subtle designs. What more could you ask for?

                  Sale
                  Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape
                  Cinelli 3D Volee Black Handlebar Tape

                    Last update on 2020-12-04 at 18:03 / Commission Earned / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

                    Perry
                    Perry
                    Hello, my names Perry and I've been a freelance writer for the past 5 years and a cycling enthusiastic since I can remember. I love the road, but my main passion is mountain biking.