The Fizik Vento Solocush Tacky tape is a high quality and very effective bar tape aimed primarily at racing audiences and/or lightweight builds, and it's certainly lived up to the hype. Even cleaning it has proved much easier than I was expecting.
- Pros: Superb all-round performance, generous length
- Cons: Less flexible than some so takes longer to fit
It's a laminated polymer tape, designed to offer excellent damping without being overly bulky, and a water-cheating lacquer coat ensures superior purchase whatever the conditions.
At 2.7mm thick it's slightly thicker than Lizard Skins' DSP and is available in a wealth of classic and contemporary colours, so something for every taste/colour scheme (listed below). Fluoro colours aren't everyone's thing but I've been pleasantly surprised by how the yellow has stood out on dull, overcast days.
I'm told that all the latest tapes are at least 20cm longer, to cater for oversized aero section bars and big flared drops. Fitting is straightforward, although it requires a firmer approach than many laminated tapes. It's less supple than cork, or indeed old school bike ribbon, and I needed to bind tight and maintain a quick rhythm to achieve a consistent, even effect. I also found that the plugs required a definite tap from a rubber 'engineers' mallet to drive them securely home.
As I'd expect from this price point, the adhesive backing is very tolerant of being unwound, if corrections are needed. The end plugs are similarly sturdy, and the finishing strips are better than most, though I used electrical tape to seal the deal.
Purchase and control proved a notch higher than the DSP, which I remain very fond of. As the miles racked up, I wasn't completely surprised to discover it was uniformly good, dry or wet – reassuring when tired and tackling some very long, winding descents, peppered with potholes and similar imperfections, or when snaking though town, as well as when the wintry rains came.
Generous length allowed equally generous overlap, even allowing for the bar's wide, voluptuous profiles, so I wasn't surprised by the levels of comfort regardless of glove choice, thin liner or winter duvet-like, although gel type palms proved the most luxurious combination.
My 'cross-inspired fixed gear winter trainer is often shod with 42/38mm rubber, so I can mix things up a bit, taking in less technical forest tracks and bridleways. A Redshift Sports Shockstop stem undoubtedly helps, and while I didn't have any qualms with Lizard Skins' DSP in these contexts and this same setup, the Vento has a slight edge, the deep cushioning keeping my palms and digits happy.
In terms of durability it's faring well. Leaning it up against rendered walls and similarly abrasive surfaces hasn't made any obvious impressions. However, in common with the Lizard Skins and other textured/dimpled coverings, dirt and oily finger marks transfer effortlessly. Purging isn't too tricky, though, organic matter sliding away with a warm sponge, and more ingrained/petrochemical gunk lifting with a very mild detergent. Duck Smart The Black Stuff Chain Cleaner seems particularly effective when applied via an old flannel.
The Vento tape lives up to the hype and is certainly on a par with several similarly priced competitors. Some will baulk at £33 for bar wrap, but this is a high quality tape that offers superb comfort and is well worth considering.
Premium grade bar tape that delivers in every context
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fizik Vento Solocush Tacky Tape
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?
"FIZIK VENTO SOLOCUSH TACKY TAPE
Vento – Aimed at the racers, looking for control with more connection to the bike and reducing weight.
Solocush – streamlined cushioning contruction. A single-layer that provides cushioning through texture but also offering a lightweight benefit. 2.7mm thick.
Tacky – finish gives a sticky, nonslip surface with a raised texture for grip in all conditions."
It's grippy and extremely comfortable bar wrap with an equally competitive weight.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Colour options – Black, White, Blue, Green, Red, Pink, Yellow, Fluro Orange, Fluro Pink, Fluro Yellow, Fluro Lilac or Celeste
Proving very durable and easy to care for. Easier than I was expecting and in comparison with those employing space age polymers.
Performs consistently well, in all conditions.
Appears very rugged. Easy to reapply, and though it picks up grime and dirt very easily, it's much easier to clean than other polymer types.
Certainly not cheap, but competitive alongside those promising (and delivering) similar qualities/levels of performance.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Does what it promises: regardless of temperature, or how wet conditions become, tenure and control are excellent. Damping qualities offer enviable defence against low-level and more intense vibration. I was a little perturbed by how readily the fibres collected dirty/oily handprints, but even oily spatter is dismissed easily with a damp cloth.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Superlative comfort and control, in all conditions.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Comparable with other brands' polymer types, including Lizard Skins DSP, though I have used some tapes costing £15 and delivering excellent performance in similar settings. Though not quite comparable, they might prove a better choice for winter/trainers and daily drivers.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were looking towards polymer types, definitely.
Use this box to explain your overall score
Great tape in terms of performance and relative to similar competition and earns its 9 despite the price, which some may baulk at.
About the tester
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)