UK brand Kinesis already does an extra tacky 4-Season tape for wet and cold grip, but this tape takes things an extra level by actually adding a tire-style tread to your best gravel handlebars. That makes it great for maximum control in the slippiest cyclocross and gravel conditions. Super stretch construction and expander bar plugs make it easy to fit and refit too.
Design and performance
The EU and US patented Grip tape uses the same tacky polyurethane tape and Vex Gel cushioned backing as the proven 4-Season tape from Kinesis. That gives it a slightly rubbery but easily stretched nature that makes it easy to wrap onto the bars, even ones with a slightly awkward profile or ergo kinks. The central tread and plain border make alignment easy too, although they’ll also punish you aesthetically if your taping isn’t on point. While the backing doesn’t slip in use, it peels off easily and cleanly too and we’ve had no problem re-applying the tape after bar swaps. The metal end plugs have an expander wedge built in so again you can slide them in and out easily but they’re totally solid once you’ve wound up the center bolt. There’s plenty of length to play with too, even if you’re covering a wide bar from stem to tip. It only comes in one color though.
The only thing you need to remember is to cut a short length off the tape to make a gap wrap section for behind the brake levers as Kinesis doesn’t give you a separate one (or learn how to wrap without needing one). The ‘finishing tape’ for the stem end is as useless and fast to lift and peel off as most of its brethren are too, so either wrap from the stem out or have some electrical tape ready.
Once on, the micro grip adds even more tenacious traction to the already tacky base tape and I really appreciated that when there was mud splatter everywhere or I’d hand planted in mud or grabbed a particularly slimy gate and turned my gloves slick. Being able to keep control anchored without strangling the bars makes a real difference to how loose and relaxed you can keep your arms - and therefore general stress and control levels - on descents even in less grim conditions too. There’s still a reasonable amount of padding and shock absorption when things dry out, so the only downside is that the tape and potentially your gloves are likely to wear a little faster than normal. It washes well though and mine is still looking fresh after a few months' riding.
The Kinesis Grip tape is definitely niche and will be overkill for roadies and fair weather riders. It literally goes hand in hand with any moments where you’re looking at your tires and thinking ‘I need more tread’, and for cyclocross riders or regular drop-bar mud pluggers it’s a very effective and economical performance hop-up. Easy re-wrapping, washing and stress-free bar plugs are a bonus too, so apart from typically useless ‘finishing tape’ it’s a winner for us. Or to put it another way, I wrapped my Salsa Stormchaser test bike with a different tape on the other side but it’s the Kinesis Grip wrap that I’ll be replacing that with once I’ve written it up.
Tech Specs: Kinesis Grip Tape bar tape
- Price: $TBC / £20
- Color: Black