Handlebar tape has a similar function to grips because it provides a cushion for your hands. By absorbing some of the shock and creating a buffer between your hands and potentially hot metal handlebars, the tape helps you ride more comfortably.
What is the best thing to use as a bike handlebar tape alternative? I will share everything I know about why you don’t need dedicated bike handlebar tape and what to use instead.
The best thing to use as a bike handlebar tape alternative is Elastoplast Sports Tape because it helps to cushion the impact and jolting well. Additionally, Elastoplast offers your hands a good, non-sticky grip surface even when you sweat or get wet. This unique tape provides everything you need with a buffer, shock absorber, and durable grip.
To see all of my up-to-date recommendations for bikes and cycling gear, check out this resource that I made for you!
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What Can I Use For Handlebar Tape
There are plenty of dedicated handlebar tapes around, but you don’t need to buy them for the name. Instead, let’s take a look at the top five alternatives you can use for handlebar tape.
Any of these make great options for riders who need a quality covering for their handlebars that are durable and won’t slip and come apart at an inopportune moment.
1 – Elastoplast Sport Tape
- INSANELY STICKY - Tired of tape that doesn’t hold? Our premium adhesive tape sticks like it should. Perfect on PERFECT on bats, Lacrosse sticks, hockey sticks.
- NO GLUE ON YOUR SKIN - Our tape was made with a special formula to make sure it reels with ease. Works perfectly for weight Lifters, rock Climbers and boxing or sparring.
- TEAR WITH YOUR FINGERS - Our tape is VERY strong but there is no need for tape cutters. Just wrap, pinch, tear and enjoy your workout.
- ULTRA THICK - 100% cotton. PERFECT for bats, sticks, bars and more. Stop settling and get HAMPTON.
- 60-DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - We Believe in our product 100% so you have nothing to lose GET YOURS.
Elastoplast sport tape is made for flexibility which means it fits well around any handlebars regardless of their shape.
It is also meant to help cushion the impact from movements, so it does an admirable job as a shock absorber.
Additionally, this excellent tape offers a good, non-sticky grip surface with a pleasant texture.
Sport tape is made from natural, renewable rayon backing with a rubber zinc oxide adhesive that grips and seals well, protecting the bar from moisture and oxygen.
Best of all, there’s no real downside to using Elastoplast as your handlebar tape.
I recommend Hampton Medical Athletic Tape from Amazon, which you can find by clicking right here.
2 – Tennis Grip Tape
- 🎾Great tennis overgrips, no slips: tested and designed by pro players and coaches, ADV Tennis tape for racket grip is made from a proprietary ultra-absorbent FeltTac material to provide a dry grip when it counts; ideal for long matches in all climates, especially hot and humid.
- 🎾Exclusive feathered comfort: FeltTac tennis grips overgrip has a unique feathered PU material surface providing soft cushioning to promote a more relaxed dry hands grip allowing more confident strokes and greater feel. Oh, this also means blisters will be a thing of the past!
- 🎾These tennis racket grips last longer with high tear resistance: ADV tennis overwraps don’t rip easily due to reinforced PU compounds. Other brands are less durable so you’ll buy more often, we instead want to give you long lasting tennis accessories. Each grip is extra wide for greater coverage and includes finishing tape with a tapered end for secure wrapping. Includes a BONUS weatherproof pouch.
- 🎾Ideal for Any Weather - It’s made of ultra-absorbent FeltTac material, so it can easily absorb sweat. Our tennis wrap grip tape works well under cool or even humid conditions when your hands are the sweatiest and not to forget, they work as tennis gifts too.
- 🎾 Lifetime guarantee with a promise to do good: If, for any reason, you would like to return a tennis overgrips, we offer a tennis racket grip replacement or full refund. We are grateful for all that our customers allow us to do, such as helping nonprofits that promote youth empowerment through tennis. Our customers support us and we always promise to pay it forward.
Tennis grip tape is exactly what it sounds like. This type of grip tape is made for holding onto a tennis racket handle.
The downside to this particular option is that it often comes in pre-cut strips that may or may not fit the space you want to cover.
Plus, this covering only has adhesive on the tip, so you need to apply it carefully and use the whole roll.
The tennis grip tape has an excellent texture for keeping ahold of a surface. Moreover, it is meant for an active sport and absorbs sweat to wick it away from your hands.
This can be a significant advantage if you ride in the heat often.
My favorite is ADV FeltTac Dry Tennis Overgrips from Amazon because it offers an outstanding grip surface but also helps prevent blisters.
You can pick it up right here.
3 – Electrical Tape
- COLOR CODE FOR EASY IDENTIFICATION. Color code your cables or label other items with the six colors in our colored electrical tape pack. Be able to tell QUICKLY if you have the right wire or cable!
- PREVENT FIRES WITH HEAT-SAFE TAPE. Don't use inferior color tapes that could ignite- not even for non-electric labeling! Our electrician-approved tape is rated for up to 170 degrees F (80 degrees C).
- LIFETIME 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE! We stand behind all of our products. If you’re not 100% COMPLETELY SATISFIED, just send us an email, and we promise to make it right!
- COOL FOR DECORATING TOO! Use that neat idea on Pinterest to jazz up a boring piece of home décor without paying craft store prices for fancy decorative electrical tape! Create a 6-color masterpiece!
- DON'T SETTLE FOR SKINNY MINI ROLLS! Our high-quality, pro-grade PVC vinyl tape is full-width 3/4" on 60 ft rolls. Don't be disappointed by buying tiny rolls of cheap, junky tape that won't stick.
Electrical tape is a common ‘cop-out’ solution for people who want a fast, waterproof cover for their bicycle handles.
There is some appeal in a well-wrapped, sleek black electrical tape finish.
However, the downside to this option is that it heats up fast in summer and doesn’t absorb shocks very well.
I’ve included electrical tape on this list primarily because it’s popular and widely available. Most people have a roll or two at home.
Even if you don’t, it is inexpensive, and you can find it at any grocery, craft, or hardware store in a few minutes.
I like Phyxology Supply’s Weather-Resistant Colored Electrical Tape because it comes in large colorful rolls.
You can get them here.
4 – Cotton Tape and Shellac
Riders who want good shock absorption, a massive variety of colors, and a more permanent solution may wish to use cotton tape.
You may have seen bikes with shiny handlebars that look taped. This is a result of combining a basic, colorful cotton tape and several layers of shellac is still a common practice.
The shellac makes the tape semi-permanent and gives it a glossy appearance, while the cloth-backed tape offers a decent amount of shock absorption.
5 – Self Adhesive Tape
Unlike the other options on this list, self-adhesive tape won’t leave your handlebars sticky because they don’t attach to smooth metal well.
This tape is made to stick to itself instead of other surfaces. There are two main types of self-adhesive tape, and either one can work as a bike tape alternative.
The first self-adhesive tape is used in medicine and sports. This tape has a rough surface that makes for an excellent gripping surface, though it can stick to gloves if you wear them.
The second type of self-adhesive tape is sometimes called vinyl tape, and it is smooth, gripping to its own surface through tension and friction rather than ‘sticking’ in the attached way glue or velcro might.
Either of these types of self-adhesive tape makes an excellent temporary solution.
However, the medicine and sports tape can be difficult to remove without cutting. Meanwhile, the vinyl style may come undone if it stays wet for too long.
Helpful Tips To Know About Bike Handlebar Tape Alternatives
Choosing the best bike handlebar tape alternative is a matter of preference. You can find plenty of variety in the colors, textures, widths, and styles of various tapes to match any aesthetic and riding style.
Here are a few more helpful tips to know about bike handlebar tape alternatives.
- Maintaining your handlebar tape is essential. According to Cycling Tips, “Ignoring the tape for an extended period of time will allow oxidation to take place unchecked, creating a potentially disastrous situation if the bar fails unexpectedly. It’s better to replace the tape at least twice a year to limit the damage and keep an eye on any oxidation that has occurred.” The salt and moisture from your sweat are corrosive to metal, so replacing the tape every six months and checking for damage will help keep your handlebars in good shape.
- Proper application of tape on your handlebars will protect the metal tubing underneath as well as your hands. Clean and dry the surface of your handlebars before applying anything to the surface. Then, always make a pattern that overlaps. Doing this leaves no gaps for rain, sweat, and other potential oxidizers to get through to the bar below.
- Removing most bike tape can leave you in a sticky situation. The adhesive may cling to your handlebars. There are different types of glue requiring various substances to clean them off. Fortunately, there are several easy solutions available. Dawn dish soap and warm water may do the trick. A spray-on degreaser is another good option. Simple Green also works for getting some types of glue to come off smooth metal surfaces. Finally, butane will remove most stubborn adhesives, but always use it in a well-ventilated area with gloves and a mask and clean the residue off afterward with soap and water.
- Taping and grips are entirely optional. Foam, silicone, and rubber grips are always an option, but they don’t provide the sleek look of taped bars. Moreover, the ideal bike is as aerodynamic as possible for racing and fast endurance riding, and regular grips have a higher profile than tape. Though the difference is slight, adding weight or bulk affects the silhouette and how air moves over you. Another thing you can use in place of handlebar tape is a good high-quality pair of cycling gloves. Look for a set with a good grippy texture that holds well on your bare bars.
Choosing the best alternative to bike grip tape is mostly about what feels suitable for you.
I encourage you to try out several different types of tape to find the one that offers your hands the right amount of traction, shock absorption, and buffer. Get creative with colors and wrap patterns.
After all, it’s just tape. You can easily and inexpensively replace it as often as you like to find your ideal handlebar covering.
Plus, removing it is satisfying and quick once you know the tricks for removing excess glue on your bars.