Review: Bike Ribbon Eleganza Tape
(2016) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single rider in possession of a good bike must be in want of a comfortable ride. That is, splurge on bar tape and/ or gloves, research the best saddles and bibs with a strong chamois, and go top shelf regarding the shoes/ pedal combination. Naturally since a bike fit starts from the pedals up it’s easy to get retail fatigue by the time the handlebars are set up. Throw whatever tape is cheapest and quickest they might say. Although regret may set in thirty miles into any ride when the hands go numb or begin to blister. Anywhere a rider touches the bike is where the utmost consideration should given.
I had strayed from Bike Ribbon’s bar tape over the past few years. It’s not readily stocked in local stores, something I can’t understand considering the quality and comfort. I’ve tried major brands in red-and-white or black-and-yellow boxes with ho-hum excitement. Yet when Bike Ribbon is on the handlebars, the ride quality transforms into a high octane ride.
Tonight’s ride was a return to Bike Ribbon. Despite the Italian company’s lack of a full white Eleganza tape option, the black/ white combination was applied. There is a full black option. I took mental notes on the ride with hope to describe just how fantastic this bar tape is.
If gumwall tires were turned into bar tape, this is what it would feel like. The grip on the tape is extremely tacky. Want to rip the handlebars off in a sprint? Bike Ribbon’s grip can make that happen. You may just wake up from a crash with the handlebars still firmly planted in your hands and fully ripped away from the rest of the bike. The tape itself is made of high-density polyurethane, but it has the feel of real leather. The bar end plugs included are supposedly made of carbon fiber.
The wrapping itself does contain some dead spots on the handlebars, so if your bike has slim handlebars, the wrapping will continue the slender feeling to it. Also the underside cable routing (if applicable) can be felt more than on other brands of tape. The good news is that condition is changeable. Bike Ribbon makes gel pads to go under the bar tape for a more comfortable ride. This might be a good option for a longer event such as the Paris-Roubaix. Or the more likely Farm to Fork Fondo.
After running Bike Ribbon for a second time, I will say the downside to the Eleganza tape is moisture in the form of rain, water bottle spray, or heavy sweating. The grip stays put during the wet conditions. However the next day the moisture is still embedded in the grip tape and the texture has turned a bit slimy. If it’s an important event it might be worth sacrificing the tape with anticipation to purchase another box of it. I tried a hair dryer and compressed air in two separate situations with minimal luck. The tape had to dry on its own for a day and a half or so.
Bike Ribbon makes a great product. When on my bike it makes me feel part of the bike instead of merely manipulating it as a passenger. It is certainly better than any larger-named accessory company on the market. It also seems to last longer, stickiness included. In the United States most bike shops have access to Bike Ribbon to special order. It is certainly worth the wait and the price for a season of riding.
Bike Ribbon Eleganza bar tape can be found at your local bike shop typically for under $25 (USD). It can last for at about one season.