VELO ORANGE RUBBERY BAR TAPE
147g (uncut including plugs) $25 (£18.20 at time of writing)
The Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape is, as the name implies, made from a textured rubbery compound and is long enough for the biggest flared drops. Generous length is only rivalled by its 3.5mm density, which lends itself perfectly, not only to gravel but drop bar mountain bike conversions, rough stuff touring lorries and frankly, anyone else who wants the best of grip and damping. Being fussy, a chestnut brown choice would’ve been nice but when everything’s considered, I’m struggling to find fault.
Pros: Generous length , grippy, shock absorbing, rugged, easy to wrap and care for
Cons: Not a con, but a fourth colour choice would be nice.
As I said in my opening paragraph, what we have here a rubber compound. Two rolls, (100cm apiece), should cater for the biggest, most voluptuous flared drops on the market. No polymer, or similarly high tech, though often delicate coatings. Look closely and you’ll notice a dimpled texture, which is designed for grip and the tape also features a tapered edge, for smooth overlap so it can sit flat, or easily doubled up at key points for tailored comfort.
Ours was black (at my request) since it followed Ursula’s cream/black theme, and lower maintenance given the old girl is a four season’s working bike.
Finishing kit is also unusually good. Nicely executed aluminium alloy, rather than cheap plastic end plugs and rubbery finishing strips that stretch and stay put.
Application/Ease of Fitting 4/5
Given the density, I feared it would fight back (as some otherwise brilliant bar wraps of similar thickness have). However, I was stunned by just how supple and compliant the Rubbery tape was-dressed these Soma Fabrications Condor 2 Shallow Drop Bars in 20 minutes, flat. (Despite interruptions from a spirited rescue collie cross!) There’s no need for cheater strips either, just weave around the bars with a firm, consistent pressure.
The adhesive is tacky, though tenacious, offering reliable purchase, yet easily corrected. I’ve had to do this a couple of times at the tops, to counter a slight loss of tension but didn’t unravel-introducing those rubbery finishing strips just before the final turns cured this. There was a fair bit of surplus tape too, saving a few grams and I’d toyed with the idea of fashioning some into a DIY chain stay protector. However, I decided the offcuts were better deployed elsewhere. In this instance, these mini tri-bars.
I was expecting wonderful things from the rubbery, dimpled texture and it didn’t leave me wanting. I like silicones but not everyone likes their slightly squidgy feel. Though compliant, the rubbery material ensures leach like connection to the bars, wet, or dry-no white-knuckle stuff when haring round a single track, s- bend lane at 25mph. This was consistent across the board, regardless of gloves, palm material and thus far, temperature.
I’ve also done a few 10 mile lops bare handed to replicate commutes and utility rides when you’ve left the house in a hurry. Yes, purchase is still better in gloved hands, but I’ve always felt in full control, even with trailer and 20 kilos trundling behind. Reassuring, especially when mental and physical fatigue are beginning to creep in, following a day’s riding.
Now, I’d be the first to admit that Ursula’s cro-moly frameset, Kinekt 2.1 suspension postand 26x2.0 rubber promise a magic carpet ride. Nonetheless, the thick rubbery texture isolated intrusive low-level buzz from washboard tarmac better than any tape I’ve used before, even some of the polymer types, which I still have a soft spot for.
Glove palm choice obviously helps in this respect, but a morning and 35 mixed terrain miles never induced tingling, or discomfort. I’d defaulted to my Passport Crochet Backed Cycling Mitts . The Teenage Dream, though never harsh gives a far more direct ride. Dressing the Cinelli Sub 8 mini tri-bars allowed me to default to them, which was particularly welcome on breezy autumn mornings, allowing me to achieve a sub-30-minute ten-mile time.
Those looking for the last word in comfort, without the cost, comfort and weight penalty of a suspension stem, could always run a gel kit beneath - there's acres of tape, after all. Oh, while I’d err on a makeshift parking brake when stopping with laden trailer/tagalong, the rubbery texture means bikes shouldn’t roll away, leaned against smooth rendering, railings and street furniture.
Commenting on long-term durability is a little tricky. A week in, and the finishing strips began to lift - easily addressed with some electrical tape. Nonetheless, 500miles hence and there’s no sign of scuffing, fading, or similar deterioration. While I’d wrap an old towel on the wrap when parking up in the garage/outbuildings, I’ve leant the tubby tourer against trees, brickwork and rough rendered walls with no ill impression on the tape. When it has gotten a bit scuzzy, you can laugh and attack it with a moderately stiff brush dipped in the sudsy prep of your choice. Great news if you’ve gone the tan, or white routes.
Given the specification, the Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape represents particularly good value. £18.06 at current exchange is cheaper than Kranx Stretta Primo Higfh Grip Anti Shock Handlebar Tape is £19.99 and has a weight advantage but, though good, doesn’t offer the same standards of shock absorption and is trickier to fit. T-One Mr Fantastic Handlebar Tape comes in at £23.95 and is slightly heavier at 187g complete). Damping qualities and grip are impressive but does require a more delicate touch and more frequent cleaning. Lizard Skins DSP V2 is available in several colours and densities, including 4.2mm. The 3.2mm version retails at £38.00 and has impressed me with its blend of weight, grip and damping. That said; the polymer coating can be accidentally stripped, so requires more care when cleaning.
I’ve been mightily impressed by the Velo Orange Rubbery Bar Tape. It is incredibly comfortable, grippy and easy to live with. Better still, it’s at a similarly attractive price point. I would like a fourth colour choice, but the present range should complement or contrast most tastes.