Widget Components' Premium Silicone Wrap, with a diamond texture and screw-in bar end plugs, is an innovative covering that promises remarkable comfort and control in all conditions. So far it's living up to the hype and proving fairly easy to live with.
Two generous rolls are ample for dressing the widest, deepest drops (even with shock absorbing underlay) and shun adhesive backing. There's no need, since the rubberised material hugs the bars, so doesn't unravel at the crucial moment, is easily corrected and can be re-used following cable replacements or bar swaps.
Achieving a crisp effect is remarkably easy so long as gentle, consistent pressure is applied, and the generous length ensures easy customisation at key points. Not that you'd rip it, but the sort of pressure tolerated by corks will result in tell-tale fading and faint stretch marks.
Expandable wedge plugs secured with 3mm Allen bolts are another definite plus, although the finishing strips weren't much cop, so make sure you have some decent electrical tape handy.
Available in black, white, orange, yellow and, of course, green, it has a dimpled diamond patina reminiscent of some space age polymer tapes. The slightly gummy texture is something of an acquired taste, but fans of polymer types will feel immediately at home. The green seems to change according to the light – grassy on clear days and fluoro when it's murky, a boon for winter. However, that dimpled patina harbours ingrained dirt; two weeks of greasy roads with the odd puncture for good measure left ours looking quite jaded in places.
Mercifully, this lifts pretty convincingly when given a blanket of bike wash and tickled with a soft to medium bristle brush. I've even subjected ours to a 30-degree machine cycle, restoring the original lustre without shrinkage or similar side-effect.
Speaking of wet, grotty stuff... water tends to bead up and roll away, and the texture becomes all the more leach-like, leaving you to concentrate on the ride, whether screaming along at 35mph plus, honking up long, tortuous climbs, or powering through the concrete jungle at rush hour.
Damping is similarly impressive, absorbing that low-level buzz that can be very intrusive over longer distances, although double-wrapping at key, personalised points certainly helps. I'd recommend it for cyclo-cross/adventure bikes (but probably in black).
Comfort in dual-purpose cool weather/liner type gloves is excellent too – no numbness or tingling even after 50 road miles. Riding bare handed for any distance is always asking for trouble in my book, but 20-mile blasts were passable, although by the end I was beginning to feel some tingling and soreness around my palms.
It's debatable whether nigh-on £30 is outlandish for bar wrap, but compared with other silicone/polymer coverings it's extremely competitive, and save for a major spill, should last a good while.
Impressive bar tape that's proving durable and easy to live with, albeit quite pricey
road.cc test report
Make and model: Widget Components Premium Silicone Wrap
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Widget Components says: "Widget Premium Silicone Wrap is our top of the range textured performance handlebar tape.
"It is a highly elastic tape which allows the density to be changed for a custom cushioning fit.
"This hard wearing tape has superior shock absorption and a low compression memory. This means that once any pressure is removed the tape returns to its original density very rapidly.
"Anti-slip in all conditions and very easy to clean, silicone wrap can be re-wrapped easily due to its naturally adhesive qualities.
"The screw-in bar end plug has a design etched into black anodized aluminium alloy plus a stainless steel bolt so they will stay corrosion free and give a professional and secure finish."
Pricey, but living up to the hype thus far.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2 x rolls of Silicone Wrap
2 x Widget Black etched screw-in bar end plugs
Good quality and thoughtful detailing.
Fitting and cleaning requires a more gentle technique than corks and other traditional coverings but seems pretty hardwearing to date.
Expensive but high quality and seemingly hardwearing.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been seriously impressed by this bar wrap on pretty much every level: it looks great, is easy to apply/refit and offers excellent purchase, comfort and control in all contexts. An obvious choice for long distance road riding. That said, while it's much lower maintenance than polymer types, £30 is hardly small change.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Pretty much everything.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Finishing strips were disappointing for this price point.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Premium Silicone Wrap is easy to fit, damps vibration well and gives a comfortable purchase for your hands over long distances, plus it can be re-used. It's a little expensive maybe but it's very good.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)