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Ergon BT Gravel Bar Tape

 90g £36.99

The Ergon BT Gravel Bar Tape (wrap, if youprefer) is a chunky bar tape aimed – the clue being in the name – at the gravel rider and other cyclists who like to rumble over forest trails and stoney tracks. Of course, it also has applications for any cyclist unfortunate enough to suffer numb-thumb syndrome. As with many thicker handlebar wraps, it is tougher to apply than lighter weight models (although I’d not want to overstate that) , but once on it has performed admirably. I like it.


Pros: comfortable, excellent damping, grippy, lengthy.


Cons: needs care to wrap, no separate cheater strips.

bar tape wrap ergon gravel box thick

Specification 4.75/5

Stuck to the outside of the box is a sample of the bar tape inside. A chunky 3.5mm at thickest promises to meet the needs of the gravel rider, or indeed the rider who likes as little vibration as they can numbing their thumbs. Although not a deal-breaker, it is a nice touch for the shopper.


Inside the box are two rolls of tape, marked “R” and “L”, two bar end plugs, two finishing strips (although Michael and I both substitute good quality electrical tape for finishing strips).


There’s also some detailed instructions and information. Amongst the instructions is one that you should get a professional to fit the tape. Likewise, that the product should not be modified in any way. The instructions are worth reading even if you know what you are doing. More of that later. However, they also point out that you can wrap it to suit your personal preference and riding positions.


Three-layer construction – waterproof outer, AirCell foam middle and adhesive base – promise comfort and durability. Each roll is 230mm long with the intention of covering wider bars or allowing plenty of overlap. There should be plenty for everyone – but remember, there are no cheater strips so you’ll need to cut a short strip off


A range of colours are available; green, black, blue, red, orange. Ours was green, with a blocked zig-zag pattern. This helps keep things in order when wrapping, as well as, in my opinion, being an attractive feature in itself.

Test Bike and Context

bike bicycle velo rad Dawes Rack Pack

Doing a lot of mixed surface riding on an old Supergalaxy tourer which is now utility bike, commuter, trailer puller, etc., this was the obvious model for lengthy testing. Despite the Kinekt Suspension Stem fitted a little while back, I felt the need for even more comfort when enjoying gravel jaunts or even just commuting along deteriorating cycle routes. Hence, the Ergon BT Gravel bar tape found its way onto the relatively narrow handlebars.

Wrapping 3.5/5

Thicker tapes are trickier to fit than old-fashioned cotton tapes or many other lighter models. Equally, one does not want to make too much of this. Get a professional to wrap for perfection, or customize the wrap to your own needs – just take a bit of time and care.


After wiping the bars clean with an alcohol wipe, begin by cutting a suitable length to cover the lever bracket. Find the “R” or “L” reel of tape and start on the appropriate bar end.

bar tape wrap end test
tape wrap bicycle cycle test review bar handlebar

Ergon clearly state the need to leave a decent overhang to fold in when shoving the bar-end plugs in. Be sure you do or the plugs, which are on the slim side, will not be secure. Wrap the tape carefully using the markings and texture to help. I was relatively sparing on the drops, but after wrapping carefully around the lever bracket, went for extra thickness around the hoods and the tops. On this occasion, I used the finishing strips to complete the job.


I’ll confess, it took me three goes, and it still was not perfect. However, it was effectively how I wanted it, and all was secure. The narrow bars are quite sporty, allowing even more length of tape to thicken up. On wider bars I would have left more bar top exposed.

Performance 5/5

A nice grippy texture gives confidence in control over rough ground, without grasping the bars too tightly. Barehanded it can feel a little sticky, although not enough to put me off. Generally, I’ve worn mitts or gloves when out and about, especially on chilly dawn commutes. I have found the leather-palmed Passport Crochet Backed Cycling Mitts the perfect partner.

What about the damping. So, you’d expect this to be pretty effective given the construction and the price point. I’ve not been disappointed one little bit. True, a suspension stem helps, but even with that you get some pretty sharp jolts when bashing over broken ground, old asphalt lifted by tree roots, and such like. Frankly, I’ve noticed no vibration – even less than when I added the new suspension stem. Moreover, when the clunks and clatters do come along, there’s very little direct impact on the hands. Even with the suspension stem I suffered occasional ‘numb thumb’ – fingers, too – but the Ergon BT Gravel Bar Tape has brought about its demise.


I managed to remove the tape and get it wrapped around some old GB bars from the late nineteen-forties. Lovely bars in many ways, but pretty unforgiving when wrapped in retro cotton bar tape. This confirmed the strong damping on offer. Really nice ride with very little vibration when away from silky smooth surfaces.

gravel bike forest track

I’d say, overall, to this date, the Ergon BT Gravel is my favourite damping bar wrap for mixed surface riding, even over the Fizik Bondcush 3mm tape that wraps my tourers bars. Vanity and preference for its style on that bike will keep the latter in situ.

Durability/care 4/5

Well, it looks and feels durable. Inevitably, given the various surfaces the bike gets leant against, there will be opportunities to scuff sleek new bar tape, but there’s nothing to notice after twenty commutes plus ventures over gravel.


Care is very easy. Firstly – and I know this should not be necessary, but I am trying to test this stuff – it is adhesive and malleable enough to re-wrap when you find that you have not got things quite as perfect as you first thought. So, an additional strip and re-wrap just for the fun of it adds up to four goes so far.


Secondly, it responds nicely to both spray and bucket washes. I’ve subjected it to Pure Bike Wash – a spray – and Crankalicious Mud Honey Foaming Bucket Wash. Both have brought it up nicely and that pretty pattern is still showing up nicely. Michael has even stuck his in the washing machine – embossed patterns can get more deeply ingrained with dirt – and reckons it comes out looking lovely with no sign of any ill-effects. Of course, regular cleaning may obviate the need for stripping  and washing.

gravel bar tape wrap

In the past, on occasions, thicker bar tapes have, in my experience, been prone to splitting along the edges after prolonged use. There’s no sign of this at all, so far- after four hundred plus miles (true, not prolonged use). Time will tell, but its nice mix of suppleness and thickness make me think that it is less likely to suffer than, say, some thick cork tapes, for example. There's not been any scuffing from inevitable contact with brickwork or other surfaces - so far - so, given care and attention, it should stay looking smart long into the future.

Value 3.75/5

The Fizik tape referred to above is a bit cheaper, but is half a millimetre thinner. Frankly, it will be down to personal preference whether half a mill makes a difference to you.


Acros Silicone Bar Wrap is around the same price, and, although a bit shorter, it comprises three millimetres of grippy silicone thickness. Maybe a good bet for those with narrower bars or who like to leave a little more polished handlebar on view, or prefer plainer designs.


A closer comparator is the 3.5mm thick Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape. With a similar spec and intended audience to the Ergon, it can be got a little cheaper. The bar end plugs probably edge it, too. However, the choice of colours may not suit everyone and is more limited than the Ergon’s range. Although plenty long enough for “today’s wider bars”, it is 30mm shorter than the Ergon and does not come with cheater strips.


Other comparable wraps are Wolf Tooth Supple Bar tape 5mm thick (yes, 5!) and made from 100% silicone compound, which bodes well but interestingly much shorter at 152cm per roll and it's also £45.  Supercaz Super Sticky Kush comes in a wealth of colours/effects, including camouflage, and retails at £37.99. It's made from  PU, 220cm long, 30mm wide and 3.2 thick.


This is a superbly grippy, comfortable, damping bar tape that offers an excellent mix of control and luxury. I struggle to find fault and look forward to many, many miles with it adorning my bars. It is ideal for gravel, touring, and general riding over gravel and other rough surfaces or if, as part of a range of measures, you are combatting arthritic knuckles!

Verdict 4.75/5 Excellent bar tape for mixed surface fun, even if pricier than many.


Steve Dyster





Ryton On Dunsmore

Coventry  CV8 3FH


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