Ritchey WCS Pave Bar Tape is reasonably thick at 3.5mm, and helps make a more comfortable ride on gravel and adventure bikes. It isn't the easiest to wrap around tight bends, although the silicone backing (rather than glue) means it's at least easy to keep re-doing or even reuse.
The WCS Pave is made from EVA foam, which offers good cushioning and maintains its shape well. It's only available in black or white, though, so colour co-ordination fanatics may be disappointed.
Installation is a little tricky, as it doesn't stretch much. Unlike lots of tape the Pave doesn't use glue, but instead has a layer of silicone gel that both grips well (once on) and boosts comfort.
This gel is tacky but not sticky, so tight bends need extra care and time to keep it all smooth and equal. On the upside, as it doesn't stick down you can have as many goes as you like.
After well over 1000km, both on and off-road, there's little sign of wear. The finishing tape is the only real letdown, and it took me several days and multiple goes sticking it back before it would finally stay in place. The bar end plugs are fairly standard, although it's worth noting they do need a fair bit of tape overhanging to secure in place.
Comfort is really very good, with the thick material giving a very smooth ride on roads in particular, where higher frequency vibrations are reduced. It feels really nice too, with or without gloves, and stays grippy even when wet (although it does get pretty wet).
There are cheaper tapes than the £20 WCS Pave, but they're mostly thinner basic types such as the Easton Foam Bar Tape, which is under £10. But against something gravel-specific, like the also very cushy Wolftooth Supple Bar Tape at £44, it looks like great value.
The Pave tape stacks up well on weight too, being 78g for the full set (two rolls and two end plugs). In comparison that Wolftooth tape is 213g, while 2.5mm Lizard Skin DSP – one of the lightest you can get – is 56g.
The thickness and comfort of the Ritchey WCS Pave Bar Tape make it perfect for off-road riding, with good grip in wet and dry conditions. It isn't the easiest to apply, but the silcone backing means it's easy to rework until it's just as you like it.
You might also like: