ACROS SILICONE WRAP HANDLEBAR TAPE
Short-term test 163g (uncut) £34.95
Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar Tape is available in a wealth of colours, perfect for complimenting, or indeed, contrasting your bike’s. Gravel and Cross enthusiasts are the target market. Justly so, given its shock absorbing, easy care qualities. Qualities likely to be appreciated by pretty much everyone else running drops. Unless of course, you’re a short distance time-trialist desperate to trim every ounce.
Pros: Refined, grippy tape, choice of colours, easy to care for.
Cons: Thickness means its trickier to fit, first time, Finishing strips an afterthought, pricey.
No prizes for guessing it’s an embossed silicone. 3mm thick and 185mm long, there’s enough for dressing the biggest flared drops, with generous overlap. I’m told its UV and heat resistant, can be machine washed at 30 degrees (If you feel so inclined, following a particularly muddy meet).
We were sent the blue and Orange versions (I was tempted to go for a 50/50 two tone effect. Thankfully the moment of madness passed quickly). Black, white, yellow and pink are the alternatives and should suit most tastes.
Silicone is naturally tenacious, rendering adhesive redundant. However, being 3mm thick, there’s a definite knack (and patience) involved achieving graceful, flowing effect. Especially if you’re doubling up at key points, for increased protection, my tubby tourer’s moustache bars being cases in point.
Don’t be afraid to bind tightly either. Unlike the thinner wraps, including Genetic Flare or Oxford's Performance Bar Tape, there seems little risk of inducing unsightly “stretch” marks. Speaking of marks, ensure your hands are clean and dry before you start. Though no worse than several other, light coloured polymer types, oily residue transfers quite easily.
Be ready with scissors and electrical tape, once you’ve reached the tops and hold the tape tense once you’ve pruned it. Otherwise it’ll unravel, right back to the hoods. I found tacking it “provisionally” checking uniformity and then binding the finishing strips, best practice.
In keeping with most brands, finishing strips feel like an afterthought. Do the job but no substitute for good quality electrical tape. On paper, the orange shouldn’t’ve worked aesthetically, with the test bike’s blue/grey paint job but I loved the contrast.
Silicones are renown for being grippy and I was expecting the embossed contour effect, reminiscent of geography lessons, to enhance this. It seemed to help. From the off, I wasn’t surprised by the tacky, tenacious feel and this was uniformly good, wet, dry and regardless of glove palm type.
This reinforced the bond between rider and machine, requiring less concentration to keep everything on track and under control, even when I was really weary.
Enhanced connection, combined with other recent tweaks (including shorter cranks and narrower, stiffer bars) encouraged me to really push things a bit harder, whether along the back doubles, grinding up the climbs, or snaking through the concrete jungle.
Swerving around holes, jaywalking pedestrians and a cheeky slalom session round some cones all brought a big grin to my face. Even a determinedly confused rabbit and loose terrier couldn’t raise a sweat, let alone white knuckles. I’ve done a few 20- mile commutes bare-handed. Further than most of us would, but performance didn’t dip.
I’ve generally found silicone wraps quite tactile, although some can feel a little alien to begin with. Where it’s been temperate enough for mitts, I’ve found the slightly rubbery texture pleasant.
As we’d expect, the 3mm density does a brilliant job of insulating against long sections of washboard tarmac and unmade roads. Numbness and tingling have been conspicuous by their absence. Admittedly, my winter/trainer’s Shock Stop Suspension Stem takes the sting out of bigger hits and more invasive trail buzz, Nonetheless, I’ve indulged with some more intensive singletrack shenanigans, for a good few hours, tingle free.
Durability Maintenance 3.5/5
Modern wraps, whether silicone, or polymer based have become increasingly hardy, taking the usual, every day accidental carelessness in their stride. By default, ours has been leaned against rendered brickwork and other rough surfaces. No scuff marks, or similar abrasion, on either bike. It’s also stopped a heavily laden tourer creeping forward and falling over, when I’ve forgotten my rubber-parking brake.
Given a few weeks, wet roads, road/trailside mechanicals and oily finger marks became quite apparent. Calling Acros’ bluff, I popped ours in the machine wash, at 30 degrees. True enough, it emerged pristine.
I’ve reapplied ours three times without any loss of lustre. Obviously, machine washing isn’t going to work for everyone, and I’m pleased to report it spruces up nicely with a medium stiff brush, dipped in a warm sudsy bucket.
Not a route I’d go with something like Lizard Skins DSP 2.5 .
A penny shy of £35 is pretty steep for handlebar wraps, even silicones. That said, on par with ESi grips RCT wrap Bar Tape and some polymer types, such as Fizik Vento Solocush Tacky Tape. Bad spills allowing, the ability to rewind and reinstate (following cable replacements, stem/bar swaps etc) means it could prove cheaper, in the longer run than likeable staples, such as Easton Pinline , although some of its characteristics are shared by the cheaper Oxford Performance Bar Tape.
I’d expect a bar wrap commanding £35 to live up to its hype and the Acros Silicone Bar Wrap certainly has, in every respect. Smitten by silicone but don’t want to part with this kind of cash? Something like Guee Silicone Bar Tape, or Genetic Flare Silicone Bar Wrap might be better options.