OXFORD PERFORMANCE BAR TAPE
80g White (as tested) £16.99
Aimed at the road rider, Oxford’s Performance Handlebar Tape has a lot going in its favour, not least a very reasonable price. Once fitted, it has offered a smart finish, but a functional one, too. You can buy more shock absorption, and you can go much cheaper for daily hacking, but for moderate distances and a good look, I have found it spot-on.
Pros: functional, reasonable price, handsome.
Cons: no cheater strips, advised not to stretch
Silicone tapes offer good all-round performance, and need less care than cork or leather. Oxford’s Performance tape is aimed at the road rider. There’s 2mm thickness at the centre strip – a little above average for many roadies, though still a little thin for some real mile munching Audax riders. Having said that, give it a squeeze and you can feel a comfortable level of give.
Colour choices are; blue, aqua, fluo (a sort of pale green), red, black, white, and pink. So pretty decent.
The lightly textured surface is patterned and described as “super tacky.”
As you’d expect there are two rolls of tape, two bar-end plugs, and two pieces of end tape. The box tells you that you have 1000mm length per roll, but I was pleased to find that ours were a little over that. Cheater strip is provided by a cut off the roll.
Strip the bars and scrub off the remnants of adhesive, cut the tape to fit, and it’s time to get wrapping. Note Oxford’s instruction not to stretch the tape.
White tape seemed perfect to adorn my mystery-mongrel machine with its just post-war Gerry Burgess GB bars. Their relatively narrow – 43.5cm spread – meant I could be generous. More contemporary set-ups, say the 45cm on my wife’s road bike or the 47.5cm on my tourer should be easily catered for, too.
Removing blemishes took time. Silicone’s natural adhesion allows removal and re-wrap, promising long life.
The finishing tape is fine, but I opted for colourful electrical tape. Likewise, the bar-end plugs. Nothing wrong with those provided – although the hard plastic feels a touch brittle – I just preferred the originals.
White tape is a triumph of vanity over common sense for someone who prefers riding to cleaning. Inevitably things will get dirty, even on a minimalist single-speed using a clean, waxy chain lube, in this case Boeshield T-9. Carry a pack of Crankalicious K-wipes has helped, too.
Light grime’s sent packing by warm, soapy water. Smudging with the residue from reseating a chain for a fellow cyclist in distress, required a spray with Oxford’s Mint Bike Wash and a good rub with a brush.
Mind you, keeping hands and gloves clean may prevent the worst soiling.
Shock Absorption 4/5
Bashing along country lanes at fifteen to twenty mph – faster downhill – has not caused any discomfort, despite some degraded surfaces. Having said that, forty miles in I reflected on old-style double-wrapping. Re-wrapped over a basic cloth tape, the next ride took in over fifty miles in luxury.
Shock absorption isn’t purely a function of bar tape. Pairing with leather-palmed Passport's Crochet mitts, took comfort up a notch or two..
Equally, the twenty-eight by one and a quarter inch tyres may offer a bit more give than higher pressure 700x23/25.
No problems here. That textured non-tacky stuff works well, mitts on or bare handed.
Cheaper than Genetic’s Flare Silicone Bar Wrap and Acros Silicone Bar Wrap whilst sharing some of their qualities, Oxford Performance Road Tape probably won’t suit those doing big mileage as well. However, it should offer more than EVA types, like the much cheaper Easton Pinline Foam bar tape, especially in wet weather. Having said that, I’d think before shelling out most of £17 if cables are likely to be changed frequently.
A good value tape for moderate distance road riding and fast blasts. Audax and lovers of mixed, multiple surface long miles may look for a bit more cushioning. I’ve tested it out on a bike with external cabling, used for moderate distances, and meant to look smart. It’s done the job well.