GENETIC FLARE SILICONE BAR TAPE
12 months 4000 miles £19.99 104g
Genetic flare silicone bar tape is an innovative and surprisingly hard wearing alternative to cork. Although showing signs of localised wear; 3000 mixed terrain miles served on my rough stuff tourer and it’s still a long way from retirement.
Clue’s in the title; it’s made from a high density silicone foam rubber reckoned comfortable with, or without gloves. At 1.8 metres per pack, there’s enough for the most voluptuous of drops - one set (two rolls) covered my Univega’s moustache and my Holdsworth’s pursuit bars with generous overlap - both oversized.
The material’s sticky properties means there’s no need for adhesive backing, so it can be unravelled or corrected during the fitting phase and effortlessly reclaimed following cable or bar swaps.
I’ve replaced three brake cables and unwound ours six times all told. Despite four season’s hell n’ high water service, the Univega’s is only just beginning to perish where it enters the bar ends.
Pretty impressive compared with adhesive backed tapes that can be unwound, two or possibly three times - tops - and that’s assuming they haven’t weathered.
Doubling up is key to achieving customised damping and the relatively low density avoids a chunky look. Dress bars using a firm, even pressure; less than cork. Why? Well, it won’t tear but results in a faded effect with stretch marks. These have become more pronounced with time and exposure to UV light, grimy hands and periodic soft-brush sprucing.
Otherwise; even the matt red is pretty easy to live with and scrubs up pretty convincingly. Grimy patinas have required more effort to dismiss as its aged but these relent when blasted with more concentrated bike wash; worked into a lathery state using a medium/soft brush and tepid water.
Aggressive 10 mile sprints on the Holdsworth and long, steady outings on tubby tourer in some pretty wild weather confirmed the silicone’s water repellent qualities, the wetter conditions became, the tackier it becomes; perfect for hammering home when fatigue’s nagging at your legs and compromising concentration.
Damping is excellent, ironing out rippled tarmac and intrusive trail buzz. My hands have felt markedly fresher compared with gel impregnated corks over similar distances. However, while numbness/tingling have been moot points; thinly padded mitts/gloves are a must for anything longer than quick ten-mile blasts/commutes.
That tenacious persona also comes in handy stops when leaning bikes up against slippery street furniture but I’ve always engaged my makeshift parking brake when lugging a trailer load. Despite regular brushes with coarse brickwork/render and trees, the fabric shows no sign of grazing/similar calling cards.
Ultimately, I’ve really enjoyed using this and would recommend it to racers, tourists and audax aficionados. £19.99 isn’t particularly cheap but by no means outlandish, especially since it can be re-used several times without losing its lustre.
Verdict: 4/5 Unconventional but extremely comfortable, confidence inspiring and long-lived bar wrap.
Colours: Black, White, Red, Blue or Pink
PUBLISHED JUNE 2016