So the Spooky was intended to be the bike to end all bikes. The bike to ride on the road, on gravel, on light singletrack, on exploration rides, on recovery rides, and on so much more. I spent a lot of time contemplating what parts to use for the build, and each part was hand-selected.
Touch points are one of the most critical parts of any bike–they’re the literal intersection of rider and ride. And when it comes to hand-selection, hands are critical. The handlebars were easy to pick…ENVE Compact Drop 44cm handlebars–my favorites. But that left the critical question of bar tape.
In the past, I’ve run Lizardskins DSP. After trying cork, synthetic cork, and a myriad of other bar tapes including synthetics of all types, I had thought Lizardskins were the best. And so it was my plan to use them on this build. On past gravel bikes, I had used a thin layer of Bontrager handlebar gel under the bar tape, because the bar tape needed a bit of help with vibration absorption. That was essentially my plan for this bike. But as with all components of the bike, I researched and considered my picks carefully.
I came across the Fizïk Endurance Tacky tape. It seemed to somewhat fit the bill for what I was looking for–soft, tacky, aesthetically appealing, grippy, durable. It had good reviews. It was from a company I liked. I put my hands on a box of it and liked feeling. I decided to give it a go.
Install was easy.
No, install was awful. It’s not the tape’s fault. The tape was great. I suck at installing bar tape. Really–it’s a great personal failure of mine. I can’t get it even, I can’t make it nice. All I want to do is make it nice. I eventually got it on, and in somewhat acceptable fashion. Then, I took it out for a ride.
It’s fantastic. If you look in the pic above, it’s raining. That day, it started misty, and ended full-on raining. No problems. Nice and tacky, nice and grippy. It’s some magical combination of factors and characteristics–it doesn’t stick to you when it’s hot/muggy, but it’s super tacky when the weather is bad. It doesn’t twist on the bars when you’re really tugging on them–it stays perfectly in place–but it offers impeccable grip. The tape does a fantastic job of finding the dividing line between diminishing vibration on rough surfaces and conveying good road feel. That’s a fine line, straddled perfectly by this tape.
There are 3 contact points between the body and the bike: pedals, saddle and bars. In the realm of pedals, the shoes have far more of an impact than any bike component. Saddles are certainly critical, and I’ve written about them at length. Hands–hands are unique. Hands are more sensitive than feet. Hands have to support your upper body, steer, brake, shift, and otherwise fully control the bike. Too thick, your hands go numb. To thin, your hands hurt. Too hard, you feel every crack in the road. Too soft, it tears every time you lean it against a wall. It’s got to be perfect. The needs of a road bike are different from those of a “gravel” bike…and yet this tape has been perfect for both.
In the end, I like the Fizïk better than the Lizardskins. It’s got better grip when it is wet. It doesn’t need gel under it in order to be comfortable. The matte finish looks better (to my taste). It meets my needs for road and all-road in one product. I can’t ask for more.