Bar tape revisit: LizardSkins DSP v2

If you’ve been a cyclist for a while, chances are you’ve heard of LizardSkins and their handlebar grips and bar tape. Before other players like Supacaz and Fizik came onto the scene, LizardSkins was the company most prominent for introducing bar tape that was tackier and thicker than the cork-based stuff that Cinelli popularized.

Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try it on Hyro five years ago. It didn’t go so well.

For some reason, the white roll of DSP (DuraSoft Polymer) 2.5 mm bar tape I got back then disintegrated shortly after I had wrapped it around my handlebars. It came apart in layers, the textured top layer tending to say “goodbye” after just a month. To add insult to injury, the supplied bar end plugs simply refused to stay put, and kept ejecting themselves out of place. Since then, LizardSkins has left a bad taste in my mouth, and I thought it was simply down to the product not being compatible with tropical conditions. I reverted to my old reliable – Fizik’s leathery but thick 3 mm bar tape.

Five years later, I decided to give LizardSkins another chance.

LizardSkins call this stuff their “DSP v2” bar tape. The compact box certainly looks different from the large figure-eight plastic blister pack of the original.

As before, the company explicitly states not to stretch these bar tapes while installing. As I found out, this is actually rather misleading. Like most bar tape, the DSP v2 bar tape needs a fair bit of tension put into it for best results, as it helps keep it wrapped around the handlebar without unraveling. LizardSkins missed a trick here by not updating the inside of the bar tape with a silicone adhesive, too. All you get is a strip of double-sided tape half the width of my finger.

I usually forego the supplied clamp cover strips and wrap bar tape around my STI levers in the figure-eight style instead. This was easy to do with the DSP v2 tape. One drawback of the figure-eight wrapping style is the potential for bulk around the STI lever clamp band area, but the 2.5 mm thickness is a good middle ground for ease of wrapping and comfort.

The screwed-in bar end plugs are a welcome improvement over the old push-fit jobs. These have started to become a staple among many bar tape manufacturers, and for good reason. They just work.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the DSP v2 bar tape, and I can say my experience has been as good as the original DSP bar tape was terrible. I ride with gloves, even when training indoors, so the tackiness of the tape has mainly been felt via my fingertips, and it’s certainly grippier than the old Fizik 3 mm bar tape I liked. It passed muster on my outdoor rides, too. Whether grinding away in the pain cave, or out and about under the hot summer sun, the v2 bar tape has held up very well without shedding away its layers.

This has led me to wonder about that roll of DSP bar tape from 2016. Could it be that I had simply bought some very old stock of the stuff back then? I’ll never know for sure, but I guess it doesn’t matter as the v2 tape rectifies all its wrongs.

And yes, LizardSkins’ finishing strips are still a minor work of genius. On most other bar tape, they are merely glorified electrical tape. Here, they act as a usable extension of the bar tape and increase its effective area, as it’s made of the same cover material.

Perhaps the only stumbling block is its value offering relative to its competition. I’m not aware of local shops that sell LizardSkins bar tape currently (at least not this DSP v2 variant), and this tangerine orange roll set me back about US$35 (PhP1,700) on Amazon. At that price point, its most obvious competition is Supacaz, which is a much newer player that has carved out a premium niche for itself and retails for roughly the same price. I haven’t tried Supacaz bar tape myself, but I’ve heard nothing but great things. Other competitors are my budget pick Fabric; Fizik, which has since blown its bar tape lineup into frankly ridiculous levels of variety; and the Taiwan-based outfit Ciclovation, whose popular pointillism-color-fade bar tape offers similarly cushy feel for slightly less money.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.