The pickings have been slim for rides lately, since I have a bunch of other things to take care of, and the rainy weather isn’t helping things. Consequently I haven’t had much time to dedicate to writing. Still, I mount Hyro on the turbo trainer and keep logging my miles that way…and I still make enough sweat to overwhelm my current cheap cork bar tape.
When I dropped by La Course Velo to return my demo pair of Northwaves, I picked up some bar tape they had in stock. One of their options is a brand new player to me called Ciclovation, based in Taichung City, Taiwan, in close proximity to many a bicycle manufacturing concern. Looking to make things look a smidge more interesting but without veering too far from Hyro’s color scheme, I went with orange.
As per the box, this is their “Advanced Bar Tape with Leather Touch,” and it retails for about PhP1400. Among synthetic bar tapes, it’s more expensive than Fizik and Fabric, but not quite as pricey as Supacaz.
Inside the box is your standard two rolls of bar tape, two bar end plugs, and two strips of finishing tape, laid out neatly in a separate cardboard tray. Notably, no extra strip is supplied for covering the brake lever clamp band, which makes Ciclovation’s bar tape decidedly for figure-of-eight wrap enthusiasts.
The tape itself is a nice hybrid of bar tapes from Selle Italia, Fabric, and Fizik. There is a pronounced taper toward either side of the bar tape, which means that, despite the rather thick 3 mm polyurethane material, this bar tape has minimal bunching or rippling on the overlaps. The backing uses a tacky silicone instead of the adhesive double-sided tape on most cheaper tape, rendering this bar tape reusable. Finally, the finish of the material is perforated and very pleasant to the touch.
Like the Fabric Knurl bar tape I had before, Ciclovation uses reusable plastic bar-end plugs, with a 3 mm hex bolt driving an expanding wedge. These are a little fussier to use, though. When I tried to wedge them into the ends of my drop handlebars, they kept on yanking the initial lap of bar tape with such purchase that it unraveled and ruined my wrapping job. I ended up having to repeat the wrap a couple times per side. Best to install the bar-end plugs and deal with their potential drama early on, before you wrap more than three laps worth of bar tape.
When you do get to the end, I suggest at least trying out the supplied finishing tape. Usually I throw this in the garbage because vinyl electrical tape just does a better job. However, Ciclovation’s finishing tape is made of this satiny, rubbery material that has some stretch, and retains good adhesion even if you’ve taken it on and off a few times. Perfect for those of us with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, then, such as making sure the logos match a certain way, or that the finishing tape ends at the bottom of the bar where it won’t be disturbed by bored fingers.
I have yet to test this bar tape out on the road, but from prior experience with Fabric and Fizik I suspect this will act in a similarly satisfying manner. Overly aggressive bar end plugs aside, I think this is legitimately good stuff.