Ciclovation Grind Touch Handlebar Tape

148g Uncut £25.99

The Ciclovation Grind Touch Bar Tape Handlebar Tape is developed for gravel and “mixed surface abuse” so an ideal candidate for the latest generation of big swoopy drops. It’s 3mm thick, two metres long and 30mm (about 1.18 in) wide. Performance is reassuringly good and on par with similar, genre specific wraps I have tested. Some costing a fair bit more. The finishing kit is also refreshingly good. 

Pros: four colours, grippy, tactile, texture generous lengths and absorbs shock well.

Cons: Fitting requires more patience than some wraps.

bar tape bicycle cycle handlebar
bar tape wrap cycling bicycle

Materials/Specification

We’re told it’s made from a rubber/polymer fusion, designed to dampen shock, while being grippy in the wet. Unlike some, including the Lizard Skins DSP there’s no delicate coating to worry about, rather it boats a low-profile, dimples and seams/cuffs. Rubbery shouldn’t be interpreted as “sticky” either. Black works for me, on so many levels, but classic blue, kale green, or chocolate brown are the alternatives. 3mm density is typical of this genre, offering good damping but without an overly chunky aesthetic. 

Great news for Audax, winter training bikes, tourers, tandems and even traditional road bikes with pencil thin tubing, too. 2 metres should be sufficient for the biggest, most voluptuous drops. I’ve had no issues with these WTB drops and of course, Ursula’s Soma Condor 2  and the Genetic D-Riser 16 and of course, my fixed gear winter trainer’s Genetic D-Riser 4 . Finishing kit is one of those things that can feel like an afterthought but not here. I’m notorious for tossing OEM finishing strips in the bin and reaching for the electrical tape, but the rubbery examples supplied have oodles of stretch and decent adhesive. The expandable end plugs are similarly secure and dependable.

Fitting 2.5/5

 

With the latter in mind, fitting is a little trickier, dare I say time consuming than some but highly intuitive once you’ve got started. Basically, boils down to getting the bar wrap aligned in the end plugs. That sussed, bind taught and weave away until you hit the tops.  

bar tape wrap handlebar bicycle cycle bike velo rad

The gummy adhesive certainly helps, allowing subtle re-jigging for sharp, uniform effect-assuming you didn’t nail it first attempt. Be sure you’ve scissors to hand and the finishing strip primed though, it mocked me a few occasions, unravelling to the drops on the first two attempts. However, the stretchy finishing strips seem very reliable.

cycle bicyclebike velo rad bars cockpit

Given the aesthetic and tactile similarities with the Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape, I dressed the right side of my fixed gear winter/trainer and Ursula’s bars, leaving the Velo Orange on the left side. This coincided with front brake cable replacements and proved an ideal opportunity to accurately compare the two. 

Grip 5/5

Purchase and control are excellent, across the board, regardless of conditions- heavy, persistent rain, sub-zero temperatures. In this respect, there was virtually nothing to separate the Grind Touch and the Velo Orange.  The dimpled rubbery texture meant I could apply light to moderate pressure on the bars, remaining in full control, regardless of speed, or distance. 

bicycle bike bars handlebar gear

Paired with higher quality winter gloves, no hint of tingling, or fatigue, even after several hours mixed terrain riding. We're talking washboard tarmac, green lanes, forest trails and unmade roads-at least on Ursula.

bar handlebar cycling bicycle bike velo rad

Solid, steady road miles on the fixed, the song remained identical, even when I was battling the increasing intensity of Storm Franklin, on the return leg of a twenty-mile loop.

I wasn’t surprised to discover grip becomes even more tenacious in the wet- especially with leather palmed gloves, specifically these old Seal Skinz 25 mph-30mph along greasy S bends and I felt in complete control. 

Again, these qualities were appreciated with Ursula towing the touring trailer and twenty kilo payloads, even if the average speed was a little more sedate! Oh, and that rubbery, dimpled texture also grips walls and fences rather well, meaning my DIY parking brake hasn’t always been necessary when resting Ursula and laden trailer against a fence, wall, or tree.

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Damping/Shock Absorption 4.75/5

 

I have dressed ours with a gentle overlap, thus giving good coverage but without a chunky look and disconnected feel that can result from too much. Obviously, other refinements such as Redshift Sports Shock Stop Suspension stem play their part but comparing like with like, there was nothing to distinguish the Velo Orange and Grind Touch. 

Both isolate low-level vibration- rippled tarmac better than any tape, including some polymers that I still, pardon the pun, hold in high regard. Of course, given the generous lengths, you could always go for a gel type underlay beneath-for the last word in shock absorption- tandem stokers take note. 

Durability/Care 4.25/5

Trail Distribution suggest they wouldn’t use anything firmer than a medium stiff bike brush to clean the wrap and I’d agree. I’ve had no issues dismissing mucky spatter, tree sap, moss etc with a few squirts of bike wash, agitated with the Green Oil Eco Brush and of course, my old favourite, Oxford Tyre Scrub . Three months down the line and there’s little sign of wear, or deterioration. One thing that does seem to separate these tapes is the quality of backing adhesive. The Grind Touch has been more tolerant of being re-wound, whereas the Velo Orange’s backing/underlay had become brittle and ultimately disintegrating, after twelve weeks and 2,000miles. I switched Ursula’s front end-disc brake, calling for cable replacement. The Grind Touch peeled away and reapplied effortlessly-I just had to replace the finishing strip.

cycle bicycle bike velo rad bars levers

Value 4.75/5

£25.99 is a nice price point. There is cheaper but a good deal dearer too. Aside from the obvious comparisons with the Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape, the Grind Touch is £12 cheaper than Lizard Skins DSP V2, which also comes in a 3.2mm density but requires a gentler touch to fitting and cleaning, given the water repellent coating. Silicones including T-One Mr. Fantastic Handlebar Tape   have a lot to offer, when it comes to damping and grip. They're also very easily removed and refitted, say for cable, or bar swaps. However, on the flip side, patina is more obvious, and harder to dismiss (from the lighter colours at least). Then of course, there’s a slight weight penalty, which may deter some.

Summary

Taking everything into account, the Grind Tech Bar tape does exactly what it promises in the blurb and represents excellent value for money. Generous lengths are bang on for the latest generation of off-road biased drops and seemingly low maintenance makes it an obvious choice for cyclo cross and winter/trainers too.

Verdict: 4.75/5 Refined bar tape with great performance and modest price tag. 

 

Michael Stenning

 

www.traildistribution.co.uk 

PUBLISHED MARCH 2022

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