Grepp Gripper Handle Bar Tape is a thin woven style tape made from beech trees with absolutely no harmful chemicals used in its production. It’s removable, reusable, and washable at 40degrees, but it is thin and gives a very direct feel to the bars, which is not to all tastes.
- Spank Flare bar tape, gel pad and plug kit review
- Bikepacking the West Kernow Way
- Best Gravel shoes for Winter and Summer use
Grepp's Gripper Handle Bar Tape is lightly padded by todays' standards at 1.6mm, and boy does it feel it coming down from the high 3's and 4+mm options that I have been using for the last few years. I fitted it to a PNW Coast 48cm bar, and there was plenty of material to go all the way to the central bulge and still have some spare. I rewrapped the bars several times to try and overlap as much as possible as the bar felt, well, just very skinny in my hands. It's not that easy to wrap around the hoods compared to most other options as the cloth doesn't stretch much, but you can really pull it tight, which helps - it won't snap!
It is also much harder to trim at the ends, and it sticks to the tape and frays if you use your finishing tape in the traditional way. However, Jan from Grepp told me to wrap it the other way, which might seem mad, but it will not fray the cut end when you eventually unwind it. Another useful trick from Jan is to use super glue to seal the cut ends to get a neat finish.
The Gripper's woven construction gives a well, er, grippy surface in most conditions. It is washable at 40˚C, which is a great idea on paper and just as well as the texture of the weave means it will collect dirt more easily. In reality, the process of removing the dirty tape, washing it, and then re-wrapping it is at odds with its eco-credentials. After each ride, the simplicity of just wiping down silicone-wrapped bars is much more environmentally friendly than a machine wash - even if that wash is only once a season. But wash it, I did, and it looked great afterwards and was very slightly softer in feel, but if you are not careful, it frays again, and you could end up with shorter and shorter tape. Following Jan's tip with super glue should prevent this.
But Grepp should definitely be applauded for trying something different and using a sustainable manufacturing process. The tape is made in Sweden from Tencal Modal fabric, produced from beech tree pulp, which is harvested in Austria and woven in Sweden. The tape also carries an OEKO-TEX® certification which means it has been tested for harmful substances and is harmless for human health. Not something I have come across or considered before with regard to handlebar tape, but there are many people and brands in the cycle trade starting to think and make noises about the ‘not so environmentally healthy’ production of bikes, parts and their subsequent shipping halfway around the world to get to us.
Does this matter to you? Only you will know that, but you can bet we will see more brands making more effort to make their products locally using sustainable manufacturing processes with ‘green’ materials as we try to clean up some of the dirty areas of the trade.
I’m going to give Grepp an A+ or a full 10 for their effort in this area, and that is not to be scoffed at – it’s not something we normally measure, but perhaps we should start to it is important after all.
I really want to like this tape, but it's a tricky one. As a major comfort contact point on the bike, it has a very direct skinny feel, like stepping back to my old Raleigh bike I had in the '80s. It's just not as comfortable as modern tapes due to the lack of padding and shock absorbency that we have grown used to. You can feel everything through these bars, every little imperfection and detail on the surface you are riding on. Some will love this feeling; I'm sorry to say that I found it just too slim for my hands and really missed the padding my normal tape offers.
You could, of course, use gel padding or old inner tubes as the Pro's do on Paris Roubaix to relieve pressure points, but that applies to all handlebar tape, and it's an additional cost. I will be trying this through the winter and coming back to you as it might make enough of a difference for me. Also, it will be interesting to know just how many times you can wash it - or if it makes no difference.
It's not particularly cheap at £25, but then all that environmentally conscientious label waving isn't going to be, and it's a long way from the expensive options. When did anything green cost less than the rival brand in the supermarket? It's a choice thing. Grepp is offering you a choice; it's up to whether you take it.
If you like thinly wrapped grippy bars and have no issue with no shock absorption, and like the feel of the woven material under your mitts, then this tape is for you. If you like fat tape and comfort and get numb hands, it certainly isn’t. Without the comfort, we have grown accustomed to its a marmite choice, I’m afraid. If Grepp can make this tape with more padding and keep the eco tag, then they might well be onto a winner. I’d like to try that for sure.