The contact points on your bike (handlebar, saddle, shoes, and pedals) are critical connections. Each poses challenges and opportunities to make our rides more comfortable or end them prematurely due to discomfort. Handlebar tape is an often overlooked connection. We’re here to find the perfect handlebar tape for you, whether you like that old-school direction-connection feel or ultra-plush padding suitable for the cobbles of the Paris Roubaix or rough gravel grinding.

Related: Small bits that make a big difference — quality handlebar plugs

We've divided our list of the best handlebar tapes into three categories: traditional, extra-padded, and a third category of handlebar tape that emphasizes maximum grip for riding in wet and muddy conditions, like those often found in cyclocross racing.

Related: Best handlebar wrap jobs - post your pics

Best Handlebar Tapes: Classic gel-backed and easy to wrap

The most common bar tapes are gel-backed synthetic cork tapes. This easy-to-wrap, semi-shock-absorbing tape is what you’ll find on most new bikes coming from your local shop. The gel-back tape gained popularity because it is straightforward to wrap, plus they clean up nice and can last for multiple seasons.

Cinelli Gel Cork

If you've been around road bikes for more than a minute, you probably know the name Cinelli. Known not only for its groundbreaking designs and bold Italian flare, this legendary manufacturer has been in the bar tape game since you were on training wheels. The time in production shows through, as this tape will last you a season (with no wrecks, of course) and is, in our experience, very friendly for new bar wrappers. You may have to finesse the bar end plugs in a bit with some extra tape, but your hand and bike will thank you for the spruce up!

  • Time-tested tape that can last multiple seasons
  • Easy to install
  • Great hand feel
  • The slender bar plugs can fall out on some super-thin carbon bars (wrap with electrical tape for a secure fit)
Price: $25.00 (Some colors on sale!)

Bontrager Gel Cork Tape

There’s something to be said about a no-frills product that delivers every time—priced reasonably, matches your gear, and easy to work with. That's Bontrager Gel Cork tape in a nutshell. This tape comes in a vast array of colors, not only matching Trek's bike and clothing, but most of other brand's as well. It wraps well and dampens road vibrations nicely. We like that it's affordable and Trek retailers almost always have it in stock.

  • Very easy to wrap on different bar types
  • The gel backing makes a great vibration dampening companion
  • It comes in a vast collection of colors and designs
  • Only available through Trek and REI
Price: $20.00

Salsa Gel Handlebar Tape

If you’re looking for that camping and bikepacking vibe, but don’t want to wrap your bars with hockey tape, the tape is the answer. Salsa's Gel tape is a staple, and there is a good reason for it. The tape is consistent, and the product is reliable every time you open the box. The gel backing is similar to the other options, but what separates the Salsa tape is that little bit of flair. Year after year, the tape gets updated with new colors that can take you to ride to the next level. The tape is easy to wrap and comes in a ton of imaginative colors. The only hard part is finding the right one for your ride.

  • Wide range of color options
  • Easy to wrap and stretch over levers and bar-end shifters
  • Keeps its integrity in the rain and adverse riding conditions
  • Branding on the tape won't suit everyone
Price: $20.00

Best Handlebar Tapes: Super padded handlebar tapes for maximum comfort


Drop bar bikes are venturing off-road more and more these days, which is a fantastic thing. Ripping through all the roots, rocks, and cobbles can rattle the glasses off your face and fillings from your teeth if you're not properly prepared. Thicker handlebar tapes dampen vibrations, keeps your hands fresh, and can prevent numbness and fatigue. This style of handlebar tape comes in various thicknesses (up to 5mm of padding!) So give your hands a break and check these out.

Specialized S-Wrap Roubaix Tape

If you’ve watched, or have been lucky enough to see the cobble of Roubaix first hand, you understand why some racers opt for double-wrapped bar tape. Now, manufacturers like Specialized have developed gel-backed tape that can handle the cobbles of Flanders and the streets of your daily commute. The Roubaix S-Wrap bar tape uses an EVA vibration dampening foam and a suede finish to keep hands happy and won’t slip if you hit a bump rolling 40KPH. We dig the feathered edges and gel backing for a super easy wrap job. The edges blend easily over any style lever and somehow make the padding look less bulky. The S-Works Roubaix tape is a perfect setup if you take your bike off-road but still like that Euro-pro clean look for the café.

  • Excellent padding and vibration dampening
  • Classic look and finish
  • Very easy to wrap, despite the additional bulk
  • The suede texture might feel out of place to traditionalists
Price: $24.99

Silca Nastro Cuscino Bar Tape

If you like the feel of Silca's Nastro Piloti, but want some more padding this is the tape for you. The Cuscino has 3.75mm of cushioning and excellent durability. The construction is similar to the Piloti tape, but the graphics and venting are a bit different. Overall, the tape is easier to work with than the Piloti but could still be a hard wrap for beginners due to its bulk.

  • Excellent durability and aesthetics
  • Plush 3.75mm of padding
  • It comes with alloy expanding bar end plugs that can live on long after the tape
  • Price - this is some primo bar tape with a price to match
  • It could be challenging for some beginners to wrap
  • Limited colorways
Price: $50.00

ESI RCT Silicone Bar Tape

If you’re also a mountain biker, you're probably familiar with ESI's line of foam grips. They are the company behind the lightest grips on the cross-country circuit. The silicone grips are all the rage, but not just because of the weight, these silicone grips are super-soft to the hand and kind to the upper body. The same goes for the ESI RCT bar tape, but you can dial in how much padding you want with the bar tape. It’s simple - for more padding, wrap tighter, and for less, you can space out the wrap. Either way, this tape offers serious vibration reduction. Plus, this silicone construction makes the tape super simple and easy to clean and wash.

  • Excellent vibration dampening
  • Cleans up to look brand new with minimal effort
  • It comes in tons of colors to match any bike design
  • It offers a non-traditional feel that some purists might now love
  • Heavier than other tapes
  • Not a commonly stocked item at most shops
Price: $34.00

Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape 3.2mm

The "Lizard King" of soft and supple bar tape is Lizard Skins. If you like padding and a nice amount of soft tactile feeling of the bars. this is your tape. Though it’s a bit more pricey than some, this tape has the pedigree to go the long haul. The construction is top-notch, and the colorways are more than I care to name. They offer not just the primary colors but tons of super cool colors that pop off the bike. The lock on Bar End plugs is the icing on the cake for this superstar of bar tape.

  • Fantastic tactile feel with second to none softness
  • Super cool color choices that will make your bike pop
  • 3.2mm of padding is just the right mix of cush and natural bar feel
  • Price - premium products with the price to match
  • Some grippy gloves can cause the tape to wear prematurely
Price: $43.00

Wolf Tooth Supple 5mm Bar Tape

The big dog of the bunch—this is the tape you reach for when you need the most padding possible. The Wolf Tooth Supple 5mm tape is just that, super-supple to the touch and offers a suspension-like feel. The tape is similar to silicone styles but has a different hand feel and is slightly tacky. The tape itself is wider than traditional tapes and is easier than most to wrap. Great for gravel, monster cross, or any style of ride that could use the extra padding.

  • It has a tremendous tacky yet soft feel to hand, even with gloves on
  • Easy to wrap and reusable if you’re careful about unwrapping
  • 5mm is a lot of padding and feels fantastic on the bumpy gravel track
  • Not something that most bike shops stock
  • The bar plug could be better for the price
Price: $40.00

Best Handlebar Tapes:
Non-slip, grippy, tactile feel handlebar tape

If the gel handlebar tape is too cushy and doesn’t quite offer the grip you’re after, good news - the bar tape gods have you covered. This tacky and grippy style of tape provides excellent bar control, even in the worst riding conditions. The extra grip helps inspire confidence and can reduce arm pump in off-road adventures. Beyond all the above, this tape-style cleans up quickly without a need to brush or powerwash at the team bus.

Silca Nastro Piloti Bar Tape

If you’re looking for something with grip and a little padding underneath, the Piloti Bar tape from Silca is your best bet. This sticky yet super comfortable tape wraps nicely but is best left for the bike shop professionals if you want the job done correctly. If you know Silca, you know they have a unique classic cool to them, and this tape matches. The patterns are timeless and match up no matter how you finish the job. A favorite feature is the Supercaz Barend plugs that are not only cool looking - they will stay in place on any terrain, cobbles, and all.

  • Classic styling that makes any ride look great
  • Sticky surface but with some padding for extra comfort
  • Bar End plugs are worth the purchase price alone - well, almost
  • This tape is stiffer and can be harder to wrap, so best to get someone who knows their way around bar tape
Price: $42.00

Full Speed Ahead Powertouch Bar Tape

FSA fly under the radar for most on the bar tape front, but more professional teams use this than you’d think. The FSA Powertouch bar tape is a blend of cushion and luxury grip. The gel padding on the interior offers excellent compression when riding over gravel or rough roads, and the polyurethane topcoat grips and can take a beating. It won’t take a beating on the environment, as the FSA Powertouch tape is made from eco-friendly biodegradable polyurethane. The Powertouch also comes with the cool FSA stickers you see on the World Tour riders bars - so you can round out that uber-pro look.

  • Excellent feel and product longevity
  • Poly topcoat on tape can take crashes and not rip
  • Not bulky but offers lots of compressions and feels great on long rides
  • Very easy to wrap
  • Not a staple in most bike shops
  • Plain color choices
Price: $31.00

S-Wrap HD Handlebar Tape

If you’re looking for style and some flare beyond the classic sense, the HD S-Works wrap is worth the look. The diamond texture will have you praising the grip, and the gel center will cover all the bumps that come up. This bar tape takes the common question “Can I reuse this tape?” and unabashedly answers “Totally!” The incredibly tough tape comes in a crazy amount of color combinations and patterns. Plus, with tape this burly - you know it comes with lock-on bar ends to make sure you keep the tape inside, and if you reuse it - it will look as good as new.

  • Incredibly strong yet soft to the hand
  • It comes in very cool color combinations and patterns
  • Able to install more than once and transfer from bar to bar
  • It could be hard for some newcomers to wrap
  • Only available at Specialized dealers
  • Almost too many color/design options to choose from
Price: $35.00

Fi'zi:k Tempo Microtex Bondcush Classic Bar Tape

The kings of the microtex tape - Fi'zi:k. These guys know matte and textured finish tape and how to make it look like a million bucks. The secret is the slight dimpling in the face of the tape. Some holes go through the outer fabric layer, and some just slightly to give grip. This texture gives an unmistakable Fi'zi:k tape ride. The temp bondcush offers the same look like the ultra thing microtex tape but with added cushion - 3mm of cushion, to be exact. The ride is sticky but not so thin that you can feel every point in the bar. Great tape that will send your bike into the classiest among the crowd - and yes, they do offer Celeste.

  • Professional, clean look
  • Many cool color options
  • Tape offers a great mix of fabric construction and gel padding for a smooth ride

  • It can be challenging to wrap if it’s your first time with Fi'zi:k
Price: $20.00

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