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ESI grips RCT Wrap bar tape



Comfortably cushioned bar tape that is easy to fit and lasts well

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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ESI grips RCT Wrap is unusual silicone rubber bar tape that you can reuse. Clever, but probably not worth the premium being asked over conventional tape.

Spring is a wonderful time of year, and it's the ideal time to treat your bicycle to some fresh new bar tape. Especially if you've been riding your bike all through the winter and the tape on the handlebars is looking a bit tatty. There's nothing much worse than dirty worn out bar tape.

ESI isn't the most familiar brand in road cycling circles but they have made a good name for themselves with excellent mountain bike grips, and they're bringing that expertise to their first road bar tape.

They use the same soft silicone foam as the mountain bike grips in a reversible bar tape, which is useful because one of the claims of this bar tape is that it can be rewrapped. You could after several months whip it off and wrap it the other way up. That's not possible with most bar tape that needs to go in the bin after removal.

Fitting the bar tape was straight forward enough. It's very stretchy, and that makes it easy to get the tension just right. Chamfered edges help line up the tape on the bars so you can ensure it's neatly wrapped.

Loop a figure of eight around the hoods and there's just enough length to reach the centre of the handlebars. Here it gets a little tricky. The tape is so stretchy that if you let go to cut a sliver of electrical tape, it will unravel in the blink of an eye. The trick is to ensure you've got that bit of tape ready so you can finish the bar tape off before it uncoils. A pair of branded bar plugs finishes the handlebar ends.

The tape has a very odd, and quite a pungent smell, when you first take it out of the packaging, and it stays some time after you've fitted it to the bike. After a ride and a wash though it disappears, which is a good thing because it's not a very nice smell if you keep your bike in the house.

A month of solid use and the bar tape is holding up well, with no sign of wear. The tape provides a decent amount of padding, it's nicely sprung, and provides good comfort on longer rides. The extra comfort is noticeable on the rougher surfaces compared to the PRO bar tape that it replaced, so that's a good thing if you're looking for a tape offering a bit more cushioning, without resorting to gel inserts. The tape is also comfortable if you ride without gloves.

My only reservation is that at £34.99 it's on the expensive side, you can get just as good tape for much less from the likes of Lizard Skins (/content/review/34988-lizard-skins-dsp-race-bar-tape) and Arundel (/content/review/50906-arundel-gecko-grip-bar-tape). The ESI tape is very good though, but I'm just not sure it's worth the premium they're charging, especially if you frequently change bar tape.


Comfortably cushioned bar tape that is easy to fit and lasts well

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Make and model: ESI grips RCT Wrap

Size tested: 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?

This complete kit comes with two rolls of reversible wrap (for the left and right, naturally), Adhesive tape and bar-end plugs. The great thing about this bar tape is that it is amazingly stretchy, allowing you to control just how dense you want the bar tape to be in different areas of your bars by controlling how tightly you wrap this tape on.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?


Custom Fit


Custom Density

Shock absorbing


Easy to install

Super Tack

No adhesives

Long Lasting

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Works very well.

Rate the product for performance:

Great cushioning and comfort in the hands, with or without gloves.

Rate the product for durability:

Very good wear rate, and it can be refitted the other way up so prolonging its life.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Great level of cushioning.

Rate the product for value:

Hard to justify the price when there is cheaper bar tape that does the job just as well.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The cushioning.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Bit smelly when you first fit it.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe not.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,


David worked on the tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

Add new comment


Nick T | 9 years ago

Cheers David.

Nick T | 9 years ago

What other colours are there?

David Arthur @d... replied to Nick T | 9 years ago
Nick T wrote:

What other colours are there?

Loads, check them out on their website

bikebot | 9 years ago

Some people have more money than sense. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're not sensible, just that they have an awful lot of money!

Charlie The Bik... | 9 years ago

"Why spend £35... Ridiculous." Etc... Because it's silicon tape and has vibe absorption qualities beyond normal tape. This is popular with the gravelers. It's a different material, somewhat unique, so will have different costs and therefore a different price.

Judging a product on cost alone is shortsighted.

I would happily spend £35 for a performance upgrade, especially when its one of the contact points. How much does a campag record cassette cost now?

Flying Scot | 9 years ago

It doesn't even say Cinelli on it, no thanks.

crikey | 9 years ago

Sweet Lord...

The prices of some of the kit reviewed on here are simply stupid. Even white bar tape, used through the winter, costing £8 or so can be taken off, washed in the sink or washing machine and reused.

£35 for bar tape is ridiculous.

surly_by_name | 9 years ago

I do not understand why you would spend £35 on "pungent" scented bar tape based on the promise that you can reverse it when you want to spruce up the appearance of your handlebars. My preferred brand of bartape goes for somewhere between £7.99 (online) and £13.99 (in the shops). Even at the upper end of that range I can get two lots (equivalent to reversing the ESI grip tape) and still have change over the ESI grips. And all without worrying about whether my bars smell odd. Or put another way: £35 for stinky bartape I can use twice; or £26 for two rolls of new, not smelly tape.

Charlie The Bik... | 9 years ago

Biased view here, as I sell this tape in my shop. But I don't think the price is a problem... What is £35 when your bikes cost £1500+.... It's of no real consequence, just buy one less Chinese takeaway, or leave the car at home for one journey this month. Ignore the extra tenner, and the funny smell, and its happy hands time.

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