Anyone use gel tape on your bars?

by bikeboy76   March 22, 2014  

Simple question; anyone use gel tape on your bars?

Now here is the bit were I tell you about my personal experience that might not be very germane to the question:
I have three spacers on my front fork. When I bought my bike about 4 years ago the bars were on top of the top spacer. As I was riding further I found I was getting pain in my lower back. I sniffed around the internet and started to adjust the seat and bars. Slowly I have raise the seat and moved the bars down one spacer at a time to put me in a more flat racing position rather than a seated mountain bike position. It has done the job and I now have less pain (at least I am in pain all over when I get past 80km.)
The thing is this is putting a lot more pressure through my hands, they are getting painful instead. I have developed new callouses on the outside/bottom of my index fingers (to go with my writing callous, raquet callous and paddling callouses)
Then I see this linky in one of my shop emailamebobs:

Recommendations? Worth a punt for the money?

8 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Gel tape is great and I love it but I think it sounds like you need to get yourself a proper bike fit if you haven't already?

posted by hammond83 [30 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 14:51


Gel tape / padded gloves will only go so far. Work on them glutes, and go to work on the core. Yoga makes my life easier. It helps me spend more time in the drops.

posted by jackdawmagpie [8 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 15:35


I use fizik gel pads underneath the bar tape. Here's a blog post I did a while ago on Hand numbness and long distance riding It looks at possible ways of stopping this problem

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [291 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 19:34


Well the callouses are a good start but the fact that your hands are hurting will naturally make you try to relieve the pressure on them, which you will have to do with your lower back, it's a vicious cycle (see what I did there?) Getting the balance right is a big thing, maybe you have gone too low with the stem. I can't see gel tape hurting matters, I use two layers of tape on my everyday and touring bikes. A bike fit would probably help but rather than pay silly money just ask an experienced friend to help fit you on a turbo, bike fit is easy and you will get better results by starting this way then trying minor adjustments, helps if you have a box of stems of course.

posted by drfabulous0 [391 posts]
22nd March 2014 - 20:14

1 Like

It might not be a bad idea to take another look at your bike fit. I'm assuming you raised your seat and dropped your bar height to facilitate extension/arch in your lower back and alleviate lumbar pain? I rode a Kestrel Talon tri bike for 5 years and it had a very aero cockpit with a low and forward placement of the bar and with a 31 1/2 inch inseam, my seat height was pretty high with a seat tube angle of 75 degrees (most race bikes are 73). I had some problems with wrist pain and median nerve compression (numbness and tingling of the thumb to part of middle finger progressing to burning pain with rides beyond 60 miles/100K). Having a steep seat to handlebar angle puts more of your weight on your arms and hands which sounds like what you're experiencing. I think the gel tape won't hurt but IMO the cause of the problem/too much weight on your arms still needs to be addressed.

Eventually the guys at my LBS added a couple spacers to my headset and switched out my stem to one with a more positive angle which fixed things but I didn't have competing lower back issues. If you know someone who's good with fitting so you can tweak your cycling position with them or if you would prefer to get a professional fit since balancing the needs of your back and newly developed issues with your hands will be rather difficult to adjust on it your own. Eventually I switched out to a new bike, Pinarello Marvel so still race geometry but with a less aggressive cockpit than tri bikes, which is so comfortable that I can go on longer rides and have been able to increase my speed and endurance.

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs

movingtarget's picture

posted by movingtarget [135 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 18:47

1 Like

I use Spesh Roubaix tape with Fizik gel simply for Flanders and Roubaix next month. They just take the sting out and will not relieve pressure points. Take a look at the gloves you have, look at the angle of the bars or the hoods. I've found that a flat smooth transition from flats to hoods and slight down pointing drop eased pressure points. Failing these a bike fit would help hugely.

Muscle pain is acceptable, back pain and joint pain is not!

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [298 posts]
23rd March 2014 - 18:52

1 Like

I have the Specialized Roubaix tape on my Roubaix and it is great on long rides, longest so far is 8 hours and no pain. I put some on my turbo bike which had thin tape before and my hands used to numb out after a couple of hours. The Roubaix tape added loads of comfort it was very noticeable. As a number have already said the tape might be a sticking plaster to fix an underlying problem but in my experience it makes a big difference if you are riding for a long time.

posted by paulrbarnard [136 posts]
24th March 2014 - 0:43

1 Like

+1 for a bike fit - you shouldn't have much weight through your hands - longer stem maybe. Or if the fit is right then it may be down to the way you are sitting or lack of core stability. More likely a combination of all three - fit - sit - core.

Still - worth getting an assessment and fit - always sounds expensive but well worth the money.

Oh - by the way - avoid the "straight leg on pedal and plumb line brigade"!
You get what you pay for and all that!!! If you are near Newbury I'd recommend "The Bike Whisperer" not cheap but five hours of dedication from the cleats up.

posted by lbuch [14 posts]
24th March 2014 - 10:48