Bar Tape – The Most Important Contact Point?

Bar tape is perhaps an overlooked part of the bike, but as one of only three contact points between you and your ride, we take a look at some of the best options for improving grip and comfort for any rider.

What is bartape?

Bartape is the material that wraps around your bicycle handlebars. It provides a soft, grippy surface that improves the comfort whilst riding and is an important safety aspect to ensure your hands stay on the handlebars. Through use it wears down, rips, absorbs sweat from your hands and no longer provides the performance it does when it was new. We would advise, depending on your mileage of course, to change your bartape at least twice a year to ensure your riding experience is the best.

Material & Thickness

Many years ago, bartape was made from cotton and was used purely to improve the grip. It offered very little in terms of comfort. Now however, bar tape is made from a variety of corks and Polyurethane and comes in a variety of thicknesses. For most road riding a bartape such as the Fizik Tempo Microtex Bondcush Classic is an extremely popular choice. At 3mm thick it offers plenty of cushioning for absorbing road buzz and comes in a selection of colours to customise your bicycle.

With the explosion of gravel riding, the demand for control and grip from bartape have increased, and with rougher terrain, thicker bartape is often used. Lizard Skins offer a incredible 4.6mm DSP Bar Tape that is perhaps one of the thickest available (see below for a comparison with their 2.5mm in the packaging!). This tape really does make a difference when you head off-road.


Most tape come in solid colours, in a multitude of offerings. Black is by far the most popular choice, but often riders will match the colour of their tape to certain parts of the bike or kit. If you want to go really different however something like the Cinelli Ana Benaroya or the Kinesis Jo Burt Series really make a statement.

More comfort?

If you’re still looking to improve comfort, and have tried various types of tape already, then it may be worth looking at adding extra gel to your handlebars. Placed underneath your bartape, the Fizik Performance Bar Gel offers a cushioning pad in customizable areas, allowing you to place the extra padding where needed.


Now you’ve chosen your bartape, you’ll need to get it fitted. Firstly, remove the old tape completely, give the handlebars a wipe down (it’s surprising how much sweat and dirt will be on your bars) ensuring you have a nice clean surface to fit your new tape. If you’ve not done it before, there are plenty of videos on Youtube with various methods, but once fitted, get out and ride your new tape! And any excess are handy for the handles of your pedal spanners!

Tell us what your favourite tape is in the comments below!

Shop all Handle Bar Tape at Merlin Cycles


  • Andy McAteer

    A keen cyclist, I've ridden everything from road, track, mountain and gravel. Currently riding on the gravel bike the most around the local trails of Rivington. Can usually be found having a beer post-ride at the local brewery.

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