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Two-colour bar tape has been popular for a while now, first seen on the pro bikes – and let's not forget, they have mechanics to get it wrapped just so. Now lots of brands have bicolour tapes, and UK brand Fabric has just launched its existing Hex tape in a dual colour version, with a number of combinations to suit your bike. Hex is good tape, with a great combination of grip and comfort, although my past experience with it has shown it not be the most durable out there.
I've fitted Fabric's single colour Hex to a couple of bikes previously, and it is nice stuff to work with. The silicone adhesive strip allows you to unwrap and have another go if you don't get it quite right, and it's fairly strong and with enough stretch to make it fairly easy to get it to lie flat around the drops and the shifters. That much is unchanged here, and the join between the colours was plenty strong too, so the only challenge is working out where you want the colour change to be and how to achieve that.
I was surprised that the red part was as long as it was – around half of the overall length – as when I've seen other bikes with dual colour tape it has typically transitioned in the drops, well before you get to the shifters. If you wanted, you could achieve that here provided you didn't want the whole of the tops covered, just by chopping off some of the red. In the end, I decided the simplest solution was to position the join so it took place largely concealed by the rubber hood of the shifters, figuring that this would give me slightly less of an OCD migraine about symmetry.
You don't get those short strips of bar tape to put around the back of the shifter junctions here, as you do in lots of other tapes, but there was enough to get decent coverage of my 44cm bar, if not loads left over.
There are two good, sticky sections of finishing tape and – bonus point – expanding bar end plugs, although these are plastic rather than aluminium like the fancy ones you get with pricier Supacaz tape.
If you're someone who agonises about getting their wrapping just right then I'd argue that throwing in a colour transition just makes life a bit harder than it really needs to be. If you have a bike shop take care of this sort of thing, or just fancy the challenge then it makes for a different look to your cockpit.
Out on the road, I really rate Hex tape. It's cushy and grippy, with enough squidge to help with higher frequency road buzz but not overly bulky for most tastes. I've found it to offer great grip in all conditions, with all gloves or none. My only reservation is that I've found it isn't the most hard-wearing of tapes. Looking back over previous purchases, I've typically got a couple of years out of a pack before it started wearing out. That's been the case on the two bikes I ride the most – if you ride a lot on a single bike then I reckon you could get through this in a year.
Whether you'd be happy dropping £27 annually on bar tape will determine whether you think this is acceptable value. I've bought Hex tape a couple of times myself, although the second time it wore out I decided to swap, and am currently eight months into a roll of Lizard Skins DSP tape. That's on my best bike, though, so with the winter we've just had, it's not had enough use to make a meaningful comparison in terms of lifespan yet.
It's a bit like tyres – the most deliciously supple, light and grippy tyres are rarely the ones that you can run for years and years. Fabric Hex is great bar tape, and if you don't mind replacing it every now and then, I'd certainly recommend it. For my money, one colour is enough for bar tape, and that colour is almost always black.
Grippy and comfortable bar tape that's now bi-colour, but not the most long-lasting
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Hex Duo bar 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?
Dual colour embossed bar tape
Stay in control with our foam-backed kraton rubber and signature Hex patterned bar tape. The Hex makes it super grippy and comfortable, while the silicone backing soaks up unwanted road buzz. Simple to wrap and keep clean, it's made for all weather conditions and can be used comfortably with or without gloves.
Provides exceptional isolation from road buzz
Kraton rubber paired with our signature Hex pattern combine to form a tape that's comfortable and easy to wrap and to keep clean. The Hex pattern is grippy, comfortable and provides exceptional comfort, even on the roughest roads.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2 x Tape rolls
2 x Bar ends
2 x Finishing strips
Good to see proper expanding bar end plugs – at this price point push-ins would be disappointing. Decent strips of finishing tape too.
Excellent combination of comfort and grip.
Among the bar tapes I've tried in this price point, this is not the longest lasting. I've found after a couple of years it needs replacing (could be less if you ride that bike a lot).
This is certainly not the most expensive bar tape you can get, but you may think it's a bit spendy given that it's not mega durable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Pretty well – it's among my favourite tapes in terms of the combination of comfort and grip in all conditions. I just wish it lasted a bit longer.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Re-stickable thanks to the silicone adhesive strip, comfortable, grippy.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
A bit more fiddly to fit than monochromatic tape, but at least you can rewrap if you don't get it quite right first time. Past experience with Fabric's Hex tape is that it doesn't last as long as I'd ideally want at this price.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Similar to competitors such as Lizard Skins' dual colour DSP tape, less than Supacaz and Fizik Vento colour blend tape. Cheaper brands are doing dual colour tapes too, such as Wiggle's in-house Lifeline brand which is half the price of this.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I have done previously, although I would likely opt for a single colour.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If it lasted longer, I'd probably score this a 9 as I really like riding with it. It's also nice and easy to fit (aside from getting the transition perfectly symmetrical). However, you can spend a lot less than this on bar tape, so I'd be looking for a bit more life out of it to seem like good value, and that's why I'm scoring it down.
About the tester
I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.