Ere’s Tenaci Gravel Bar Cover is a ‘new’ handlebar tape and grip system. It is two completely different products packaged together to offer a solution that I didn’t know I needed but I have been surprised by how much I’ve come to like it.
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The Tenaci Gravel Bar Cover set is made up of smooth padded Ere Explorator bar tape and a pair of covers (grips). Contrary to Ere's claim that this is a 'totally new product' I seem to remember long drop bar grips in the fixie market (and before), so individually not really new, maybe just packaging them with the tape is 'new.' Either way, the set also includes some neat finishing tape and a pair of black silicone collars to make a perfect end on the top section of the bar for £35.
The Tenaci Covers are supplied in a length that will need trimming for most bars but should be long enough for all gravel bars. The box includes a handy paper tape measure guide so that you can cut the grip to the right length without having to install it first.
The covers have a multi-sized polygon surface pattern called 'Terra’ around most of their diameter, but on the underside of the cover, they have what Ere has called 'knuckleheads’ for extra grip to stop your hands from sliding out of position or even off the bar completely. Looking at my clenched fist, I can see where that name comes from.
The end of the cover is closed meaning no need for a bar end which is nice, although not so good if you store anything there. As they are made of rubber you could easily cut open the end of one side of the grip for Di2 duties. Not a big issue really.
The handlebar tape is in a matching shade of off.road.cc green (thanks for that guys) and is an ‘80D durometer’ sticky handlebar tape with an EVA core. They have some cushioning and a 3M sticky back to allow for precise location on the bars, but not for easy removal. I’m not sure what other handlebar tapes are on the durometer scale, but the Ere tape is a comfortable place to hold and watch the world go by.
Ere Tenaci Handlebar Cover | Fitting
Starting with a stripped bare bar (apart from the shifters), I noticed the first issue – you cannot use the black silicone end cap unless you remove your shifters and cables. That’s not something I want to do when I re-tape my bars. So they went back in the box. Sorry Ere, I’m not removing my shifters and control cables just to fit tape. The supplied finishing tape will do fine.
Next, you fit the handlebar tape starting with an angled cut end as per the instruction sheet diagram (which is very clear) below your lever and finishing in your usual spot on the tops... (or not as it happens, as it’s not long enough, at least not on my set*). I’m using a Lauf Smoothie 44 bar – the narrowest bar of all my gravel bars, and there wasn't enough tape to do a figure 8 around the hood and end in the usual position. Not even close.
Dropping the figure 8 and stretching hard I was able to make it fit, just. To do this I had to make several passes which resulted in discovering why Ere says not to overlap by more than 5mm; the 3M sticky back strip is extremely tenacious and will happily strip off the top layer of any tape you overlap. You have been warned. Perhaps a non-sticky silicone backing strip would work better here and allow for rewrapping and adjustments.
Next up was to measure the underside of the bar to work out how much to trim off the cover. A simple process as the cover cuts easily with scissors. Sliding it up the bar was frustrating. Had I been used to fitting slide-on grips I would be armed with a can of hairspray or grip lube, but alas, my house did not own either so I had to go out and buy some. It’s been so long since I fitted anything but a lock-on grip on a mountain bike. I forgot what a pain they can be and I did split the very end of one pulling it up over the tape under the lever mount. Luckily I had enough length to trim back a section and it still fit.
The second side was much simpler once I had figured out the technique. After fitting, I gave the hairspray in the bars a few hours to dry, but they felt solid after 30 minutes. You’d get different results from different adhesives, but it’s not as quick an installation as normal handlebar tape. It would have been good if some form of grip lube or adhesive was included in the pack to save me buying a can of hairspray - just as well nobody I know saw me.
Ere Tenaci Handlebar Cover | Riding
The tape itself is comfortable on the tops, if not class-leading, and the textured pattern provides some grip but it is also staining quickly. The edge is showing white against the green. The main issue, however, is that my tape was just not long enough. By not having enough tape for a figure 8 around the brake lever where most people hold the bar, the trail surface makes itself immediately apparent thanks to the lack of shock absorption in this most critical contact area.
*This shortness of tape just didn’t seem quite right to me especially with the gravel markets increasing interest in wider bars so I contacted Ere in case something was wrong with the set I had been sent. They confirmed that the first batch on sale was produced with handlebar tape that was too short. The initial batch was supplied with 200cm of Explorator tape. The second batch has 60cm more tape, 30cm more per side, which will solve the problem I had and be enough for correct hood wrapping and hand comfort. If like me you have an early set with only 200cm of handlebar tape and you come up short, Ere tells me that they will send you a replacement set if you contact them.
As for the covers, I really rather liked them once I’d got them on. I think they could have a slightly larger diameter as they feel thinner than my normal tape in the drop position, but the polygon patterned grip and compound work well for control with bare hands or gloves.
The knuckleheads work brilliantly on tricky descents and rutted bouncy trails where you definitely do not want to lose your grip. Maybe another ‘Knucklehead’ would provide even more grip when things get sketchy and you need the controls as well as the grip. But they certainly saved me one very cold morning coming down off the Salisbury Plain on a steep rutted descent into Bratton. The more I’ve used them off-road the more I appreciated the extra security that the 'heads' provide.
I'm not aware of similar grip/tape/cover combinations but you could create your own with £30 ESI XXL Silicone grips or the £37 Redshift Drop Bar Grips setup that Matt used with the Kitchen Sink Bar which offers more comfort but not necessarily more grip options PLUS you still need tape with both, so a much more costly option. Or you could just opt for fatter sticky grippier handlebar tape and rely on good grip to hold the bars. Tape such as the £35 ENVE Handlebar Tape does the job perfectly in my opinion - I've not slipped off yet. Genetic's £28 Silicone bar tape is another good option being super easy to fit and overlapping the tape creates nice ribs to grip on the bottom of the drop bar.
If you are running 40cm bars or below you probably won’t have any issue with the first batch length, however, if you are running wider bars and cannot make it reach and/or you have a 200cm tape length contact Ere and they will sort you out.
Using Ere’s Tenaci Gravel Bar Cover system has been a bit of a mixed experience so far with the tape itself feeling soft and grippy but coming up way too short for comfort around the hoods. The longer tape will hopefully change this, and I will update the review if that is the case.
I can recommend the Tenaci Covers though. They work really well and have not slipped yet. Their patterned polygon texture and the ‘knuckleheads’ offer excellent control in all types of weather when you need it most and are comfortable to ride rougher tracks on.