I have this thing about wrapping handlebars…perhaps an obsession. When I was still a novice, I once took an hour wrapping and re-wrapping the same handlebar which led to another hour of lovers’ spat with my exasperated girlfriend. I have on occasion wrapped a bar with brand new tape, only to rip it off moments later after I decided it was “wrong for the bike.” I have also carefully transferred tape and re-applied it to three bikes over a period of two years. I have crashed on some tape repeatedly, bolstering it with electrical tape until the original wrap was barely visible. When I go to Japan, I stock up on coloured electrical tape because I think that Japanese electrical tape works best for finishing the terminal end of the handlebar wrap. One time, an ex-teammate drove an hour and half to have me work my handlebar wrap magic on his new bike.
At this point, I have a plethora of preferences for wrap.
My favourite wrap is Cinelli. The “cork” type, not the “gel.” With the exception of the Cinelli’s newly re-introduced “corky” wrap, the cork label is a little misleading, since there are but tiny bits of cork in the clearly foam-based tape. However, the “corky” wrap is almost entirely natural cork and makes your bar look like a wine cork.
Back to the regular Cinelli cork wrap: it’s been the standard since before I got into cycling. Its dense tapered foam has just the right amount of grip and cushion for me, and it’s adhesive backing means it’s much less likely to slide on the bar than the gel type. Cinelli changes the colour offerings from time to time. One of the new ones is the World Championship wrap kit with WC colours striped the whole length of the tape (seen here). Includes chromed end caps with the WC stripes again. Expect to pay about $30.
The only beef I have with Cinelli is that it’s not terribly durable. The Fizik microtex bar wrap makes a pretty good rainbike wrap. It’s a little thin on cushion, but it can be combined with Fizik’s excellent Bar Gel under-wrap padding. Fizik tends to retain its vivid colour even through a couple seasons of weather.
A lot of people love cloth wrap like Tressostar or Cateye, but I don’t really care for it except on mtb bar- ends. It’s grippy but lacks cushion utterly. I have never understood the appeal of Benotto wrap…if you are too recent to cycling to know what that is, just believe me when I say that sometimes progress is good.
What’s your favourite wrap?