I recently decided to bring my Salsa Fargo out of retirement, the poor babe has been hanging on the basement wall for over a year with no rides. It needed a tune, some cleaning, was getting some new-to-it wheels from the Warbird (which was getting sold), and it definitely needed new bar tape. I had been running the same orange Lizard Skinz 2.5 tape on the Ragley Luxy bars since the bike was built up brand new, and it was pretty ratty looking after a lot of gravel miles logged back in the day. I run Lizard Skins on all of my drop bar bikes, it’s has a lot of strengths, but it is time for a change.
When building up the Mukluk last year, there was a bit of a grip conundrum. What grips would work best on Jones H-bars while running a Rohloff Grip Shift setup? After some intense research the ESI Super Chunky silicone grips seemed to be the best for the application at hand. After a few hundred fat biking miles, they have proven to be tough, comfortable, and look just a good as they did on day one. They also come in crazy colors, and ESI will even put together custom color combinations. Did I mention that all of their grips are also made in the USA? Big bonus.
So… when it came time to choose new bar wraps for the Fargo, taking into consideration the needs of a rough-service bike packing setup, I thought it was time to give ESI’s RCT (Road, Cyclocross, Triathlon) bar wraps a try. They are 100% silicone, reversible, and are available in the same selection of colors as ESI’s MTB grips. I have high hopes for the RCT.
Wrapping the bars with RCT is a breeze, since they are reversible there is no “tape side” paper to test your sanity (my messy shop floor is also thankful for this), and you can stretch or not stretch the wrap to fit the thickness needed at each hand position/bar bend (LS advises against stretching their tape, regular cork can slide around when not stretched enough). The bevel in the tape gives you a close-to-exact guide for wrapping also, so it’s even easier to get a nice, even look.
The kit comes with two strips of ESI’s self sealing Silicone Tape (seen here also being used as wrap for the aero bars) to finish off the wrap job. It’s a nice touch, as most companies give you that weak ass branded adhesive strip that usually ends up on my shop floor in favor of the old classic electrical tape. I’ve used this silicone tape to secure dyno hub wiring, wrap parts of frames to guard against chipping/damage, shimming light mounts, I would strongly recommend keeping a roll or two around your home shop, it’s as invaluable as electrical tape without all the tape residue.
First Impressions Bullet Point List of TL,DR:
- RCT has a slightly thicker, more comfortable feel than other wrap. After the first 200 miles of mixed surface use, it has kept my hands happier than before.
- It retains all of its grip in rain. Last week I purposely rode through torrential downpour conditions to test, and RCT more than passed the…uh…test. Part of the rain test was over some very sketch paved trail to dirt construction zone to trail to dirt, and maintaining control through these abrupt and wet/muddy changes was no problem at all.
- I personally dig the matte finish of the wrap. It blends in more readily to the hoods of the shifters. It’s also real stealthy, which is extremely important.
- RCT is reversible, so you can conceivably cause wear to one side (or dirty up the brighter colors in the line), then rewrap the bars leaving them looking fresh AF.
- Silicone Tape instead of usual crappy strip of branded tape to finish off the bar wrap job. A very nice touch.
- Price is in line with other premium brands.
- The supplied bar end plugs actually stay in the bar ends. Mind blown, really.
- EASY TO INSTALL
- MADE IN THE USA
- Did I mention that it’s comfortable? Settling in to the bars for the first time was like a true “baby bear’s bed” moment. I didn’t expect the comfort level to be that high.
I’m looking forward to tearing these up for many hundreds of miles to come, I’ll let you know how things go!
Disclaimer: CNB purchased this product for personal use and testing, and has in no way been compensated for any writing regarding this product*.
*Disclaimer Disclaimer: The preceding disclaimer was in no way CNB fishing for free stuff, or any other type of compensation. Wink.