The joys of bar tape, part 2: Fizik vs LizardSkins

The last time I demonstrated a handlebar wrapping job, I used LizardSkins’ famous DSP bar tape in the 2.5 mm thickness. I had no prior experience with using it, but I took a chance on it as the tape with the tacky material was well reviewed.

Unfortunately, not all reviews hold up to real-life scrutiny.

I always found it slightly odd that LizardSkins explicitly stated not to pull their bar tape. From a wrapping perspective, this is very counter-intuitive: The most significant thing holding most bar tape in place fast to the handlebars is the tension you apply to it while wrapping. Even with the adhesive gone, the tension is usually enough to avoid the tape unraveling from handlebar.

Well, as it turns out, LizardSkins’ tape really doesn’t like tension.

That span of bare handlebar was the result of the tape walking up and down from where it was supposed to have been wrapped…even with fresh adhesive.

And while I wholly expected white bar tape to get dirty just by my looking at it the wrong angle (yes, it’s that inevitable), I wasn’t prepared to see the tacky, textured DSP tape material flaking and peeling off its base in this rather ridiculous fashion. Not this quickly, either.

Adding insult to injury are the bar end plugs that absolutely refuse to stay seated.

What gives?

Apparently LizardSkins’ DSP handlebar tape isn’t really ideal for hot, humid countries like the Philippines. The stuff just delaminates and falls apart. Initially I thought this was just down to having an old roll. However, my friend Mario had cautioned me about it, and sure enough, all the expected negatives happened.

Oh well. Back to an old favorite, then.

Fizik’s 3 mm “Performance” handlebar tape is what my bars were wrapped with when I rode last year’s Subic-Masinloc-Subic 200 km randonnee. It’s made of a leathery microfiber material, and they offer it in a number of finishes and levels of tackiness.

The key to this tape is the layer of dense foam underneath, which seems to always be blue regardless of what color your actual bar tape is. This will add to the girth of your handlebar, making it a little beefier and more substantial to hold.

Even Fizik’s bar end plugs are very good. I have a few of them left over, and I sometimes use them with other brands of bar tape because they just do a great job of keeping their position. You may have to resort to a few thwacks of a rubber mallet to get them to swallow the Fizik 3 mm tape though.

Finally, it doesn’t require rocket science to wrap this around your handlebars. The tape works best with a fair bit of tension along its length, which means it’s not rocket science to wrap. Even if you do get it wrong, undoing and correcting any odd pockets is straightforward.

If it isn’t obvious by now: I highly recommend this particular bar tape. It’s a bit pricey, but unless you rip through the tape or scuff it very badly, it will last you many months of daily riding. By far, a better-value deal than LizardSkins anything, in my honest opinion.

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