Apart from prettifying your bike, handlebar tape has two jobs: it should be comfortable and offer a good grip. This Exotic Carbon Look Bar Tape does neither.
There is some padding but it's dense foam with very little give in it, particularly in the tapered edges, which make up more half the overall width. You have to wrap the handlebar carefully and with plenty of overlap to get any resilience at all. Even then it's fairly unyielding.
It's more comfortable than old-school cloth tape and – this is hardly a ringing endorsement – no worse than the OEM tape I've encountered on some cheap road bikes. It's nothing like as good as cork tape.
I had some new cork tape handy as I'd just bought some from Planet X for £2.49. (RRP, if it ever goes for that, is £6.99.) The cork tape is only slightly thicker but the difference in feel is palpable. It has a springiness that the Exotic tape lacks, so it doesn't just compress under your hands. The difference in comfort is enormous.
The outer surface of the Exotic tape has a carbon-effect finish in what feels like shiny vinyl. Grip isn't great in the dry and is worse in the wet. Even cloth tape offers a better grip. Cork tape, meanwhile, is much grippier and feels nicer as well.
That just leaves prettifying. It does that well enough, and the shiny finish doesn't seem to scuff too easily. If you want to make your bike's handlebar look pimpy, this is an inexpensive way to do it. If you want it to ride nicely, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Inexpensive and smart but neither comfortable nor grippy
road.cc test report
Make and model: Exotic Carbon look bar tape
Size tested: 30 x 1900mm, 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?
The manufacturer doesn't really say anything about it, other than that it's carbon-effect bar tape.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Length: 1900mm (ea)
Weight: 98 gm (pair)
It does look kind of like carbon weave.
Grip and comfort are both poor.
It seems tough. The unyieldingly dense foam helps in this respect.
It's heavier than the cheap cork tape I had for comparison.
It's not comfortable. It's not appalling, but it's not good either.
It's cheap enough that you can just bin it if you don't like it.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's comparable to cheap OEM tape on budget road bikes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Slippery. Not comfortable.
Did you enjoy using the product? No
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
It's all style, no substance.
About the tester
I usually ride: Genesis Longitude My best bike is: Planet X Pro Carbon Track
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking