Saturday, January 25, 2014

No More Cheap Crummy Tape

Acts of desperation: twine and shellac

It turns out that if you use cheap crummy tape for finishing handlebar wraps, the results turn out looking cheap and performing crummy. Huh. I bought ten-for-a-dollar black tape at some discount store, and the results were poor. On hot days in Phoenix, the adhesive on the tape would let go, making a sticky, slowly unwrapping mess.

My first instinct was to blame the tape, not the particular cheap tape I had bought, but rather the whole concept of using electrical tape to finish handlebar wraps. The strips supplied with the handlebar wrap tape seemed too short, and the ones I tried also tended to not work great once it got really hot here. So, seeking alternatives to black electrical tape, I tried the Rivbike twine and shellac method. It solved the immediate problem of tape that peels off in the heat, definitely. I kind of like the results and will continue to use it on some bikes. It produces a quirky, distinct look, which is growing on me.

The initial alternatives I tried

But I also continued to wonder if I wasn't overlooking something in the tape space. Let's say for bike situations where I don't want the quirky, distinct look going on. Eventually, it occurred to me that decent, non-cheap, non-crummy tape might be engineered better, such that the adhesive doesn't let loose in hotter temperatures. Lo, behold, that is exactly the case.

Decent, well-designed, temperature-certified tape on the left. Crappy, going into the trash tape on the right.

As it turned out, the good stuff is made in the USA, while the crappy stuff is made in a country known for sometimes making cheap crappy stuff. Good job, American company making good stuff; bad job, overseas company selling crappy stuff. I'll buy the tape that holds on in the summer heat from now on.

I'm confident that 194°F should exceed my handlebar needs


  1. If you want to return to the quirky look,try a 'Turk's head' knot with some colourful nylon yacht rope.I use 1.5 ~ 2mm diameter x 1.5m long. (you waste about 90% of the rope but you need the length to attack the knot. There's a ton of diagrams on the net about Turk's heads and they can almost do your head in, but the result is well worth the effort. A purple knot on a black leather wrap looks super 'classy'.(or should I say 'quirky?)

    1. Nice, I did find several videos on that know, thanks! It looks like a distinctive, unique way to finish a bar (looking for a better word than "quirky").

  2. 120 temps might get the tape over 150

    1. As long as the bar stays below 194 it looks like the good stuff should hold.

  3. 3M Scotch Super 88 Heavy-Duty might be even better. The five rolls of the tape in the post will probably last for a while before I try the Super 88, though. If I use four feet per handlebar job, and do one set of bars every three months, I have about 2.5 years worth of tape to use up.


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