KRANX STRETTA PRIMO HIGH GRIP ANTI-SHOCK HANDLEBAR TAPE
107g complete £19.99
The KranX Stretta Primo-High Grip Anti-Shock Handlebar Tape is a grippy, shock absorbing model that offers decent protection nagging low-level vibration, without adding unwelcome bulk, or indeed breaking the bank. It also seems very low maintenance, so with the other properties, a good bet for winter/working and cross bikes.
Pros: grippy, generous length, reasonable damping properties, easy to care for.
Cons: Trickier to fit than some, no cheater strips.
This is a two-layer, 2.3mm thick design employing Silicone and PU. The exterior sports a grippy, water repelling texture, and a cushioned sub layer provides the insulation. Inside the box there are two generous rolls of tape, finishing strips and end plugs. I went for the black/green effect. Blue, orange and red are the alternatives, although there’s plain black-something for most folks and their fleet by my reckoning.
I chose black/green, which seems closer to fluro/yellow, but I think the contrast works. Two metres of tape is becoming increasingly standard these days and means there’s no problem dressing big, wide, swoopy drops, such as these Salsa Bell Lap and Soma Condor. In fact, there was enough surplus to dress the bike’s Cinelli sub 8 mini tri bars, although the existing Ritchey is still in good shape, so I’ve stored the off cuts for when that starts looking weary.
Alternatively, you could reclaim some excess as “cheater-strips" since these aren’t supplied. Generous black finishing strips with a slightly rubbery texture and some basic, but perfectly serviceable end plugs complete the package.
A light adhesive backing has definite pros and cons. Fabulous, should you need to correct, or later down the line, replace a cable or even bars. However, a pain during the fitting phase, given the tape needs a very firm and similarly consistent pressure. Otherwise, it will unravel with frustrating speed. It took me four attempts to be at one with its characteristics and achieve neat, flowing effect. Even with generous overlap, it doesn’t produce an unsightly chunky aesthetic (which might be particularly abhorrent on a road bike with pencil thin tubing).
The dimpled texture is quite unique, but I’m pleased to report grip is reassuringly good in all conditions. Unlike silicones (which typically become more leach like, the wetter things get), the texture seems to repel water and very similar to this now discontinued wrap that has adorned my Univega’s bars for several thousand miles now.
Palm type had some bearing here. Gloves/mitts festooned with silicone dots/patterns being the best marriage, but old school leather palmed retro mitts, such as these Passport Crochet Cycling Mitts weren’t far behind-wet, or dry. At thirty-odd mph on wet rides, an embossed silicone, such as the Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar has an edge. However, I’ve never felt any urge to death grip the bars, which helps when you’ve been belting along for several hours and tiredness is setting in.
Any component, although contact points in particular feel different to start with, which is why we err on 400miles before coming to any firm conclusions. Coming from thick, squidgy silicones, including the Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar Tape I was more attune to low-level “buzz” from washboard tarmac but the Stretta Primo kept things in check, while accentuating the test bike’s pacy persona and sharp handling.
Easily on par with common or garden cork wraps and a good notch higher than I’ve experienced with more basic PU types, The generous lengths also mean you can double up at key points (and to some extent revise at a later stage, assuming you’ve left a little spare) or pair with under bar gel kits.
No obvious weak spots these past few weeks. Ours has shrugged at the usual, everyday carelessness-being leant against roughly rendered brick/stonework, trees etc. Some trace transfer was easily dismissed, and the tape has responded very well to cleaning. Much as I expected, KranX advise against anything harsher than a bike wash/concentrate.
A warm sudsy bucket and medium stiff brush tickling has purged coffee splashes and indeed, bird spatter without trace. Oxford Tyre Scrub is perfect for this job. Oily/waxy finger marks benefitted from a quick pre-wash agitation using a drop of agitated degreaser stock, but this bodes well for training bikes and daily drivers subjected to winter’s corrosive witches’ brew. In terms of re-wrapping, say in case of cable replacement/bar swaps, there has been some subtle stretching of the tape, meaning it’s been slightly easier to re-wrap.
I had been a little sceptical of the tame adhesive but with firm pressure and substituting the finishing strips for decent quality electrical tape, so far, so good. There is an argument its affordable enough to be replaced every season, or so. You pays your money, you makes your choice.
£19.99 is arguably wallet-friendly but there is still some capable competition that could give it a good run for your hard earned. BBB BHT14 Flexribbon Gel Bar Tape comes in at £14.99 is available in several colours and very durable. Oxford Performance Bar Tape is £16.99 for the 2mm version, tested by Steve (£19.99 for the thicker, 3mm counterpart). Lizard Skin DSP has a slight edge on the grip front, due the tape’s gummy nature. However, it’s a bit steeper and while the black hides dirt and grime handsomely, care is needed to avoid stripping the high-tech coating.
There’s no escaping the old saying “You gets what you pays for”. Funds allowing, I’d point gravel enthusiasts towards something 3mm thick and fitting requires a calm, methodical persistence. Nonetheless, the KranX Stretta Primo Bar Wrap delivers a good balance of grip, damping while being low maintenance. Qualities that lend it particularly well for general road riding and, maybe, some cyclo=cross racing, too.
Verdict: 3.5/5 Sensibly priced, low maintenance, grippy dependable bar tape for general road riding.
PUBLISHED JUNE 2021