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The Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar Tape is available in a wealth of colours perfect for complementing, or indeed contrasting, your bike's. Gravel and cyclo-cross enthusiasts are the target market and justly so, given its shock absorbing, easy care qualities. Qualities likely to be appreciated by pretty much everyone else running drops – assuming, of course, you're happy to part with £35.
It's an embossed silicone, 3mm thick and 185mm long, enough for dressing the biggest flared drops, with generous overlap. I'm told it's UV and heat resistant, can be machine washed at 30 degrees if you feel so inclined. As well as orange, it's available in black, white, yellow and pink.
Silicone is naturally tenacious, rendering adhesive redundant. However, being 3mm thick, achieving a graceful, flowing effect requires patience. This is particularly apparent if you're doubling up at key points, for increased protection.
It tolerates a surprising amount of pressure. Unlike thinner wraps, there seems little risk of inducing unsightly fade/'stretch' marks. Speaking of marks, ensure your hands are clean and dry before you start; though no worse than several other, light coloured polymer types, oily residue transfers quite easily.
Be ready with scissors and electrical tape once you've reached the tops, and hold the tape tense once you've pruned it otherwise it'll unravel, right back to the hoods. I found tacking it 'provisionally', checking uniformity, and THEN binding the finishing strips best practice.
In keeping with most brands, the finishing strips feel like an afterthought. They do the job but are no substitute for good quality electrical tape.
Silicones are renowned for being grippy, and from the off I wasn't surprised by the tacky, tenacious feel and this proved uniformly good, wet, dry and regardless of glove type.
This reinforced the bond between rider and machine. Less concentration was needed to keep everything on track and under control, even when I was weary and flagging. This, coupled with other recent tweaks to the test bike (including shorter cranks and a narrower, stiffer bar), encouraged me to really push things a bit harder, whether hustling along the back doubles, grinding up the climbs, or snaking through the concrete jungle.
Swerving around holes, pedestrians and a cheeky slalom session round some cones all brought a big grin to my face. Even a determinedly confused rabbit and loose terrier couldn't raise a sweat, let alone white knuckles.
I've done a few 20-mile commutes bare-handed too – further than most of us would, perhaps, but performance didn't dip.
As I'd expect, the 3mm density does a brilliant job of insulating against low-level vibration. The sort associated with long sections of washboard tarmac and unmade roads. Numbness and tingling have been conspicuous by their absence. Admittedly, my winter trainer's Shock Stop Suspension Stem and bigger section tyres certainly help.
Modern wraps, whether silicone, or polymer based have become increasingly hardy, taking the usual, everyday accidental carelessness in their stride. Ours has been leaned against rendered brickwork and other rough surfaces, with no scuff marks or similar abrasion. It's also stopped a heavily laden tourer creeping forward and falling over, when I've forgotten its parking brake.
Given a few weeks' use, wet roads, road/trailside mechanicals and oily finger marks became quite apparent. Calling Acros' bluff, I popped ours in the machine wash at 30 degrees and, true enough, it emerged pristine.
It also spruces up nicely with a medium stiff brush, such as the Oxford Tyre Scrub dipped in a warm sudsy bucket.
On paper, £35 is pretty much premium territory for silicones. It's a little cheaper than Esi Grips RCT Wrap bar tape at £39.99 and Supacaz Super Sticky Kush at £37.95, but Widget Components' Premium Silicone Wrap is £29.99.
Subjectively, I think the Acros’s additional refinement and overall performance trumps the otherwise very likeable Widget Wrap.
That being said, there’s a horses-for-courses calculation too. For example, a bike’s value, the distances and nature of riding done. Gun to my head… for a bespoke touring or audax build I’d reach for the Acros. A winter trainer/daily driver it’d be Guee's Silicone (£25.99) or Genetic's Silicone (£22.99).
Bad spills allowing, the ability to rewind and reinstate means it could prove economical in the long run. I've reapplied it three times without any loss of lustre.
I'd expect a bar wrap commanding £35 to live up to its hype, and the Acros Silicone Bar Wrap certainly has, in every respect. However, there are a wealth of very good options commanding considerably less cash.
Refined and seemingly rugged bar wrap, though pricey
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Acros Silicone Wrap Handlebar Tape
Size tested: 3mm deep
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?
Acros says: "The innovative, durable, and eco-friendly alternative to traditional bar tapes; The ACROS SILICONE WRAP comes without an adhesive strip, so you can re-adjust the wrap again and again without leaving marks. The tape is UV and heat resistant and can be washed off, so the ACROS SILICONE WRAP looks fresh for a longer time. It is an excellent choice for cyclocrossers and gravel pilots! Thanks to a particular frothing process in the production."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
DIMENSIONS 31 mm (width)/ 3 mm (thickness)/1850 mm (length)
COLORS black, white, red, yellow, blue, Pink, Orange
CONTENT 2 rolls with 2 plugs and finishing tape
More rugged than most silicones I've used to date, with little evidence of stretch marks/similar degeneration thus far.
Delivered in every respect.
I still have some Widget bar wrap serving me well, a few years down the line. The Acros seems very rugged thus far, but will be interesting to see how it fares, longer term.
Heavier than some but then it's also thicker than some.
Impressive damping, purchase and control, rain or shine.
Very much at the upper end of the price bracket and there are several cheaper options. However, it may work out very economical in the longer term.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, I've been delighted with its damping properties, reducing hand fatigue over longer distances. I've also a set on my rough stuff tourer and can report its similarly capable in more challenging off-road contexts too. Purchase is what I'd expect from silicone, tenacious in the dry, more so when it's raining dogs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Comfort, refinement, superior grip. I also like the colour.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Pricey compared with other silicone wraps.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Very much at the upper end of bar tapes, save for leather. There are very capable silicone tapes £10 or so cheaper.
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 overall score
Refined bar wrap with enormous charm but no less than I'd expect from this price point.
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)