This buyer’s guide to the best handlebar tape will help you find what you’re looking for, and our handy video will talk you through how best to wrap it.

Mechanic Al Vines runs through how to change your bar tape. It’s not the simplest of jobs, but sooner or later your grip is going to wear out and you’ll need to refresh your bar wrapping.

Watch the video to find out what you’ll need for the job and how best to approach it. Al uses a figure of eight approach that works best with drop bars and modern shifters. Follow his advice carefully and you’ll have a fresh looking set of bars in no time.

What you’ll need

  • Electrical tape
  • Decent sharp scissors
  • A roll of new bar tape
  • A clean pair of hands

Fresh from the box

When you buy new handlebar tape you should find a few other things in the box. There’ll be the two rolls of tape with bar plugs, cheat strips – but you won’t need those with this method, unless you’ve got Campag levers, and finally some sticky strips for finishing the job – but that’s where the electrical tape comes in.

Our picks of the best handlebar tape

Lizard Skins DSP 2.5mm handlebar tape

7 of the best bar tape: LizardScore: 10

Price: £32.99

The choice of a large number of pros in the WorldTour peloton, this Lizard Skins is one of the most luxurious feeling handlebar tapes on the market. As well as this 2.5mm option, there are two other thicknesses available, and despite the good level of padding it can easily be rewrapped too.

Read our full review of the Lizard Skins DSP 2.5mm handlebar tape here

Buy now at Wiggle from £22.99

Pro Digital Carbon Smart Silicone handlebar tape

7 of the best bar tape: ProScore: 10

Price: £14.99

Pro might not be best known for its handlebar tape, but it’s done a great job with this Digital Carbon tape. It’s made form silicon, meaning that it is strong enough not to tear, while also being thin enough to make for easy application. Having a silicone strip rather than glue on the back means that it can be refitted too.

Read our full review of the Pro Digital Carbon Smart Silicone handlebar tape here

Buy now at Tredz Bikes from £13.48

Fizik Superlight handlebar tape

7 of the best bar tape: Fizik

Score: 8

Price: £14.99

If you want a handlebar tape that can be easily matched to your bike and kit, then the 27 different colour options that this Fizik tape is available in should offer just about enough choice. It’s very thin, meaning that there are more comfortable tapes out there, but that also makes it very easy to fit, and it can also be wiped down easily, so white tape can be kept looking good for longer.

Read our full review of the Fizik Superlight bar tape here

Buy now at Wiggle from £11.65

Specialized S-Wrap Classic handlebar tape

7 of the best bar tape: Specialized

Score: 8

Price: £17

For a classic finish for a bike, the Specialized S-Wrap Classic handlebar tape is hard to beat. The synthetic leather finish looks great and is dead easy to clean. Available in four different colours, the only problem we found was the the lighter colours were a bit harder to keep clean.

Read our full review of the Specialized S-Wrap Classic handlebar tape here

Buy now at Evans Cycles from £17

What to look for when choosing handlebar tape

Grip

You might think that your handlebar tape is mainly there to make your bike look good, but this is probably the most important contact point between yourself and your bike, so it’s important that it gives you secure grip so you can control your machine in all conditions. Look for a handlebar tape with a nice tacky finish that you help you maintain grip when riding in wet conditions – something that is particularly important if you’re riding without gloves.

Padding

luke rowe pinarello k8 double wrap bar tape

Thick, double-wrapped handlebar tape is a good option for long rides over rough roads

Another very important aspect of handlebar tape, especially for those riding without gloves, is its padding. Especially on long rides over rough roads, your hands and wrists can take a real pounding, so look for some handlebar tape with plenty of padding to reduce the vibrations being transmitted to your body. If you’re riding on particularly rough roads (or even cobbles) then consider wrapping your bars with two layers of tape for even more protection.

 

Wrap-ability

Assuming you’ve watched the video above and are planning to fit your own handlebar tape, then it’s worth looking around for a few reviews to see how easy it is to wrap. In general thinner tapes will be easier to wrap as they will be more flexible, but might be prone to bunching at the bends in the bars.

Finish

Andre Greipel Ridley Noah SL tour de france bike lizard skins bar tape

There are plenty of coloured and patterned bar tapes on the market

Most handlebar tapes are made from one of three different materials: cork, leather, or a synthetic materials. If you’re after a really luxurious feel, then leather or cork are hard to beat, however they are often more expensive than synthetic options. If you’re a sucker for white bar tape, then its also worth finding an option (usually synthetic) that will be easy to clean, as the last thing you want is your sharp white tape turning brown from mud or sweat after only a couple of rides.

Colour

Certain members of the cycling community will tell you that your handlebar tape must either match the colour of your saddle, or match the colour of the head tube, or be black, but we say just go for whatever colour catches your eye. There are some very bright options to choose from if you shop around, with companies like Supacaz and Lizard Skins offering some pretty funky patterns too. It’s your bike, so do what you want to it.

  • SeanMcCuen

    yes, it is. happy hand slippage.

  • PS

    No it’s not. It’s crud. Expensive, looks awful, feels awful, and lasts about 1 week in hot weather.

  • A.J

    The CBoardman gel tape seems decent, at 9.99 a pack at Halfords and it comes with logoed screw in bar ends and brake lever tape, and one role did the job,easy enough to wipe clean with a wet wipe etc and its really grippy, got it on buy 2 get third one free offer as knowing our weather ill need the fresh roles especially in yellow but looks quality product and individualises my green and yellow Carrera crixus 2.

  • SeanMcCuen

    the best tape there is, period, is Specialized Velvet. never need gloves even on the hottest days, and lasts literally 2-3 times longer than most. black looks new after a whole summer.

  • Mick

    I have tried the 1.5, 2.5 and 3.2mm versions, all of which are very good, although I prefer the 3.2mm. At this time, this seems to be the best tape on the market.

  • Atganirider

    Feels great, but just won’t come clean. I’ve had the white and pink, but binned them off as they looked grubby after a few rides. In contrast, Deda Carbon effect tape in silver, gold and even white has proven durable and easy to clean over the course of several cyclo-cross seasons. With just a little effort and some washing up liquid, Deda Carbon comes up pristine