Ere research offer a range of different road and gravel bar tape options priced from €20 to €40. However the Tenaci system adds an elongated, textured and pistol gripped single piece rubber grip section for the bit of your drops below the brakes. Ere say this will “make you experience your gravel adventure as you have never done before.” and it certainly looks and feels distinctive. It requires a full control strip for complete fitting, the lower sections can work loose and the extra grip lumps are in the wrong place.
For more conventional taping options, you might like to check out our guide to the best bar tape for gravel bikes.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
The Tenaci Gravel Bar Covers are a definite game of two halves. You get a single piece section of broad (35mm wide), extended taper bar tape based on Ere’s €20 Explorator bar tape to use on the top of the bars. You also get securing tape and small silicon covers to slide over the inside edge of the tape to stop it unraveling. Then, finally a 22cm (8.8in) long textured rubber grip sleeve with a closed end and three ‘knucklehead’ lumps molded into it. This slides onto the lower half of the bars and is designed to improve grip and increase comfort over a standard taped setup. The built-in rubber ends will damage your frame less if the bars swing round in a crash and mean no tatty tucked in tape ends if you’re not a pro plugger. The ‘Terra’ grip pattern is complimented by natural black, green and sand color options too.
Fitting is definitely one of the worst bits about fitting conventional bar tape and looking at the Ere kit you’d think that it would maybe half the wrap stress. Unfortunately it’s actually more complicated to fit than normal tape. For a start if you want to use the silicon doughnuts that help hold the inner ends in place, you need to fit them to the bars before your shifters and before you’ve run and internal cables and hoses through the frame. If you’ve got entirely external brake and gear Iines then it’s not so bad, as you can unbolt cables from the mechs and/or the calipers from the frame and squeeze them through the doughnuts before refitting the shifters. If you’ve already internal controls in place though, it’s an off-putting amount of unthreading and rethreading to go through for new bar tape.
The bar tape itself is supplied in a single length that you need to cut in half yourself to cover both sides of the bar. Not a big deal, but not exactly helpful either. While the extra wide tape and extended chamfer creates a sleek flat profile between each wrap, it’s hard to fit consistently around the tighter curves of the bar and the brake body. The fact you still have to wrap around the brake (the most brain hurting bit of the process) was an unwelcome discovery on a system that looks like a major benefit is dodging that bit. It’s not very stretchy either so the chances of it looking, creased, gappy or slipping apart are high unless you’re a taping savant.
The tape section is short too. Even on a 44cm wide bar I had to start the tape higher than the instructions suggested to just about cover the taper on the bar, so the increasing trend towards wider bars is literally going to stretch the system beyond it’s comfortable overlap. That’s going to be compounded if you cut off a ‘tidying’ section to cover the almost inevitably exposed brake clamp, because Ere don’t supply a separate section for that.
Fitting the lower rubber sleeve is slightly more straightforward. Even in a household with two teenage daughters it turns out no-one had any hairspray though, so I couldn’t use my go to slip on and stick adhesive option from 90s MTB grip fits. Happily a bit of spit was enough to coerce the cover on eventually with a fair amount of twisting and then corrective throttling to get rid of wrinkles and align the three ‘knucklehead’ lumps properly. It mean I didn’t have to do the always awkward ‘vet’s thermometer’ bar wrap plug insertion dance though for which I was grateful.
Once installed, the lower sleeves give a soft and grippy contact that shrugs off wetness and a fair amount of mud for a tacky, connected feel. However, you’re ultimately only connected to the grip, not necessarily the bar, as unless you glue it on, the sleeve tends to twist and rotate slightly even in freshly fitted dry conditions. It only takes a bit of moisture seeping in to make that rotation a lot more obvious though and the grip can also start sliding off the bar entirely. The only option to guarantee security is to glue or wire the grips on motocross style, but I’ve not had to say that in about twenty years of testing. Even while it stays put the ‘knucklehead’ lumps aren’t in the right place. While Ere say they’ve “taken a good look at finger positions”, the lumps are positioned so you’ll only use all of them with your bars on the flat lower section of bars. Frankly – apart from models determined to look clueless on lifestyle bike shoots – I don’t know a single person who holds the far lower ends of their bars. That’s because you can’t reach the brakes at all from that position. That confirms the extra ‘Knucklehead’ grip is certainly not in the best place for descending or any technical sections which is when you’ll want it most.
On a more positive note, the tape across the top of the bars has a tacky feel from the 80 durometer rubber but the stretched wrap means it’s a firm, rather than cushioned ride off-road. While the flush fit taping is a neat aesthetic move, it’s going to be undone if you go to the bother of stripping your bike down to fit the fixing donuts.
We can see where Ere are coming from with their tape and grip concept and it does have some potential grip and frame protection gains. Too short tape for wider bars, slippery lower sleeves, grip lumps in the wrong place and lack of cover strips means execution is disappointing. The need for a full internal control unplug for a complete installation, plus a price almost double that of a full bar wrap in comparable Ere tape doesn’t do it any favors either.
Tech Specs: Ere Research Tenaci gravel bar covers
- PRICE: €34.95
- MATERIAL: 80 durometer bar tape and rubber grip extensions
- WEIGHT: 138g