Genetic's Flare Silicone Bar Tape offers an innovative alternative for covering your bar, especially if it proves long-lasting.
The tape is available in five colours and is made from a high density silicone foam rubber that Genetic say is designed to be comfortable with or without gloves.
At 1.8 metres per roll, there's ample for dressing the widest, deepest drops - even oversized versions. I managed to dress both my Univega's moustache bar and my Holdsworth's pursuit bars using the two rolls supplied in the pack. There's no adhesive backing or a right/wrong side either, it relies on the material's natural tenacity and won't unravel should the phone go at a crucial moment while you're putting in the bars. This also means a broken control cable or bar swap doesn't automatically spell bin fodder.
Achieving crisp effects is remarkably easy but requires a similar technique to cork - firm, consistent pressure. Slight heavy handedness won't give rise to the dreaded rip, but look closely at the photos and you'll notice some tell-tale fading/stretch marks.
This seems purely cosmetic and, to my eye, quite a fetching quirk, but might not be so alluring in black. Surprisingly enough, it hasn't tainted despite being held with my grimy hands following roadside mechanicals, though several months' use may say different.
The slightly rubbery texture is an acquired taste but quickly grew on me - upkeep aside, I'm fond of space age polymer tapes but the Genetic trumps these and classic cork whatever the heavens hurl (and there's been plenty of rain and hail during the testing period).
Water tends to bead up and roll away rather than penetrate the surface, leaving you with leach-like tenacity even when it's teeming down and you're hurtling along or cutting through traffic, flicking round pot holes and car doors being swung open.
Damping is similarly impressive on and off road, absorbing intrusive buzz, although double wrapping at key points is key. Thanks to the tape's relatively low density, doing so doesn't result in unflattering, chunky aesthetics.
I'm not so sure about riding bare handed for any distance though. Fifteen-mile commutes were fine and yes, the material's properties are very apparent, but 30-odd and fatigue was beginning to creep in around my palms/ulnar region.
So far, I'm certainly impressed and would recommend it to anyone running big mileages and seeking low maintenance alternatives to cork. Whether it ages so gracefully remains unclear.
Innovative cork alternative for general riding - be interesting to see how it stands up to the elements long term.
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Make and model: Genetic Flare Silicone bar tape
Size tested: Red/Black
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?
"High silicone foam rubber handlebar tape.
Superb quality, comfortable high density foam handlebar tape. Use with or without gloves.
Naturally grippy double sided and stretchable allowing you to custom tune and re-tune your handlebar tape fit and feel."
No quibble here... so far
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Naturally grippy material.
Reusable without adhesives.
Reversible, profiled section can be fitted 2 ways.
Stretchable for custom fit density.
Shock absorbing comfort.
Durable, weather resistant natural finish.
2x1.8m per side (un-stretched).
2 plugs, finishing tape and lever clip covers.
Weight: 225g (set)
Colours: Black, White, Red, Blue or Pink
Seems very durable but I will be interested to see how (and indeed, if) it's affected by UV light, dirt and other contaminants in the longer term.
Looking favourable so far.
Expensive compared to cork and other, more traditional leatherette types, but not outlandish and is much easier to re-use.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been seriously impressed by its grippy, shock absorbing qualities but I'm not completely sold on riding long distances without gloves/mitts. Getting the best from it demands custom wrapping at the key points and a consistent, even pressure - much like cork.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Ease of fitting, damping and tenacious all-weather purchase - with or without gloves.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Nothing as yet.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 41 Height: 1m 81 Weight: 70 kilos
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb 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)