EASTON PINLINE FOAM BAR TAPE
Easton Pinline Foam Bar Tape comes with the tag line “Get a grip and feel the road,” in a choice of eight colours, and costs less than a tenner. Polymer-based wraps have the edge, when it’s raining dogs, or over long stretches of washboard tarmac. Nonetheless, the Easton makes a brilliant go-to, for season specific bikes, and daily drivers.
Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, grippy, decent colour options.
Cons: Damping generally good but lags behind polymers on long/mixed terrain rides.
This is their baseline tape, made from embossed EVA foam, with adhesive backing, cheater strips and end plugs. Eight colours boil down to black, white, blue, grey, yellow, orange, red and “highlighter” (Fluro yellow, to you and me). Arguably given the testing season, the latter might’ve been THE colour. However, our black compliments my Univega’s two-tone theme handsomely, and the Soma Condor Shallow Drop handle bar .
Each roll is generous. I cut ours down to suit my daily driver’s moustache bars but a dry run (i.e. with backing strips in situ) confirmed there was ample to dress these WTB MTB drops.
Much the same technique as cork. i.e. bind tightly and maintain a consistent pressure, as you weave around the bars. That said, the Pinline is more malleable, so responds best to a firmer, more masterful hand. The adhesive is quite subtle, which is a double-edged sword.
Annoying, since the tape can sneakily unravel, at the crucial point. However, ensures easy correction, or remounting should a control cable need replacing a few weeks down the line.
Finishing strips always feel (and generally perform) like an afterthought. These are better than some and fine, as an interim “Holds everything neat” while I find the electrical tape/have dinner/answer the phone.
Tactile and compliant to touch, even when doubled up at key points, the EVA doesn’t mean a chunky, unflattering aesthetic. Damping lacks the outright refinement, of Lizard Skins DSP, yet still does a decent job of taming vibration, from pockmarked, washboard tarmac. The sort that can really nag shoulders and wrists.
Mind you, 1.75-2.0 section tyres certainly help, in this respect and probably explains why I didn’t feel fatigued, in these areas. Mirroring Steve’s experience with the Soma Thick 'n’ Zesty Bar Tape, it's very good, in the everyday, road biased sense.
Some thinner EVA foam sleeves can still leave the bars feeling remote. Especially during winter and wearing full-finger “duvet” type gloves. This was particularly apparent (and welcomed) when sweeping around ruts, holes and ahem, road cones at speed. Though I’d be happy to race cyclo-cross, 35-mile mixed terrain (50, road) rides had me quietly pining for Lizard Skins DSP.
Purchase and control proved consistently good, wet, or dry, regardless of glove choice. I’ve alternated between Oxford Bright gloves 4.0, their 3.0 siblings and, when it’s turned bitterly cold/wet, Gore Tex mittens.
Corks are great for damping and grip is pretty good, in the wet, too. However, I’ve found purchase a notch higher. Other factors, such as gloves with silicone peppered palms certainly helped. Talking of wet weather, the Easton EVA becomes damp but to date, hasn’t saturated, and dries reasonably quickly. On a wet, blustery day, I was surprised to discover the tape, wicked dry, within 15 minutes.
I’ve never felt any need to death grip the bars, whether sweeping through single track, scorching along my favourite 1in7 at 35mph or just keeping pace with rush hour traffic.
Calling their bluff, I’ve done a few ten-mile (round trip) commutes bare-handed and was pleasantly surprised, by standards of comfort and control. Unlike the old school foam sleeves, dye doesn’t leach out, transferring to hands and face.
500 mixed terrain miles in, ours still looks very fresh. I’ve regularly rested the tape against rendered brickwork, and rough sawn wood, with no hint of bobbling/similar signs of distress.
It also grips these surfaces very well, a boon when heavily laden and when I’d forgotten my rubber “parking brake”. Black is brilliant, for hiding dirt. However, I’ve gently tickled ours, using Green Oil Bicycle Brush as part of the bike’s weekly, sudsy bucket freshen-up.
Overall, given the asking price, the Easton EVA bar tape represents excellent value. An obvious choice for winter/trainers/daily drivers and indeed, cyclo cross. Contexts where distances are less intense and tape, cables/other consumables, are more frequently replaced. Cost conscious Audax aficionados and other endurance riders may find BBB BHT 14 Flexribbon is a better bet.