SOMA THICK & ZESTY BAR TAPE
60g 2.5mm thick $11.59 (approx £9.09 at time of writing) Apple Green (Chartreuse) (as tested)
Smooth and bright, Thick and Zesty Bar Tape by Soma is aimed at those who like a thicker tape and a flambouyant choice of colours. Of course, it needs to do a job, too. So, I’ve been out and about on road and trail, and can report that it seems to fulfill its purpose pretty well.
Pros: loads of colours, genuinely water repellent, decent price
Cons: a little stiff when fitting, no separate cheater strips.
With similar properties to PVC (and more eco-friendly), the main constituent of Soma’s Thick and Zesty Bar Tape is an EVA/resin mix. Whilst there’s more to it than that, according to Soma, this fundamentally emphasises vibration absorbing properties, along with sound grip. Soma also point out that it will resist water without getting slippery.
Personal preference often reaches its zenith when discussiing contact points, but there’s little doubt that the range of colours should satisfy the most colour-coordinated cyclist and that it comes at a decent price.
A “striated” version is available for those who want something more obviously grippy.
2.5mm at its thickest - in the centre of the strip, as you’d expect - is a discussion point. Opinions differ, with some gravel and enduro riders preferring something a little fatter, around the 3.1mm mark. 2.5 seems to offer a decent compromise with the roadie’s prefered 1.8, or thereabouts.
Usual prep should be undertaken. Once done, Soma suggest cutting short strip from each roll of tape to cover clamps. Being conservative with this proved to be agood move. Generally erring on the side of a more generous overlap when binding the bars, I like plenty of tape - even on compact bars. In that sense, on the standard drops on the old Supergalaxy, I had to eke out the last few inches of tape. Don’t get me wrong, there’s enough of the stuff, but, more luxuriant wrappers would prefer cheater strips to be included in the pack.
A mix of tension and tenderness is, as usual required. The thick and Zesty does not feel strongly adhesive - a plus point for the ham-fisted, such as I - so an additional attempt or two did not cause sticky entanglements. Once in place, it stayed put happily enough.
The bar-end plugs required a decent few millimetres of overlap to fold and form a secure grip. Experimenting, some old bar tape wrapped around the plug kept things in place and added the extra few mills to the visible end of the tape.
Soma’s Thick and Zesty is nicely tactile. Whilst it looks suspiciously slippery, grip is actually pretty good. If you want greater security, try the striated version. Wet weather has caused no panic,, even over rougher forest roads. There’s no obvious absorption of water, so things remain comfortable. In fact, standing out in a three hour downpour left no dampness on the tape, once a few droplets had been brushed of.
Shock absorption is decent rather than great - in my humble opinion. Daily driving, no problem, but longer rides and lengthy rough-stuff might beg for greater damping prowess. On the same note, contact with canal bridges, undergrowth, brick walls, and othe potential scuffing hazards, makes the Soma’s price tag tempting for commuting and utilty trips aound town.
Cleaning is simple. A few suds of washing-up liquid and a damp cloth have disposed of light dirt, whilst a gentle bike cleaner has dealt with greasier stains. A bit of elbow grease needs to be thrown into the equation, but the colour has come back, pretty much as new, in a couple of minutes.
Overall, my impression is that Soma’s Thick and Zesty is a decent bar tape at an attractive price, primarily with daily driver, commuter, utility use in mind. My main gripe is the absence of cheater strips, but I’d certainly consider it, esecially for compact or narrow bar bearing steeds in my stable.