The Oxford Performance bar tape offers plenty of comfort and, thanks to a tacky finish, loads of grip too. It isn't quite as simple to fit as some of the others on the market but it is half the price.
- Pros: Plenty of grip whatever the conditions, comfortable
- Cons: Not supposed to be stretched, which can make it slow to fit; length might be tight on wide gravel bars
The sticky feel provides grip in the wet and dry, whether your hands are bare or you're using gloves, so slippage is near-impossible, which is great when moving between the drops and hoods with sweaty palms.
It's only 2mm thick but feels much more padded. I liked the overall feel. I'm not a massive fan of thickly padded bars and this was a nice balance of road buzz damping and feedback through the handlebar.
The only downside to the light colours we were sent for testing is that they get dirty very quickly, although it can be wiped clean with a cloth without too much hassle. The colours available are blue, aqua, fluoro yellow, red, pink, black and white.
On the side of the box there is one instruction, 'Do not stretch', which makes it a bit slower to fit than most other tapes, especially around the tight bends of the hoods. Getting a snug fit without leaving any gaps between each wrap while not pulling the bar tight is quite the balancing act.
Without much stretch, the metre-long length of each roll comes up quite short if you aren't careful; that's okay for narrow road bars but wider flared gravel bars might be a different story.
Take your time, though, and with a bit of patience you can get a good finish.
The Supacaz tape I mentioned above is much quicker and easier to fit than the Oxford stuff, but when all said and done the overall result is pretty much the same, and as both the Fizik and Supacaz tapes cost over 30 quid, I'm happy to allow for a bit of faff for the £16.99 rrp of this stuff.
Overall, I really like the finished product. I can forgive a few foibles for the low cost, and thanks to what looks like decent durability I won't be changing it anytime soon.
A bit of a faff to fit but the grip and comfort are worth the extra time taken, especially considering the price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Oxford Performance Handlebar Tape
Size tested: 2 rolls of 30 x 1000 x 2mm
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?
It's designed for extra comfort, for day rides and audax events to multi-day tours.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
2mm comfort cushioning
Super tacky finish for improved grip and control
Tape, plugs and end tape included
2 rolls of 300 x 1000 x 2mm grip tape
2 pieces of end tape
2 end plugs
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Once fitted it's a very nice tape to use.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Excellent grip and comfort levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Gets dirty really quickly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Similar products like the two I've mentioned in the review are double the price.
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
A few niggles, but compare the performance to those twice the price and the Oxford Performance tape shows itself to be a decent product.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
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, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!