Lizard Skins DSP Handle Bar Tape: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted
Drop bars are the primary bar of choice for gravel road riders, and if your bike has drop bars of any sort- flared, not flared, or just odd, there is one thing all of them need. That would be handle bar tape. Well…..you could do something else, but why? (Okay, please don’t flood the comments with your oddball answers to that!) Anyway, most people will be wanting bar tape.
Most people will also be wanting comfort, vibration reduction, and, of course, good looks. A nicely wrapped, good looking bar tape does wonders for the look of any drop bar bike. We were sent some Lizard Skins DSP tape rolls earlier in the Summer and they did look great on my bikes. But they needed to be more than just good looking. Let’s see about that…..
What It Is: Lizard Skins has DSP bar tape in three thicknesses. We got a hold of the 2.5mm, their best selling version, and the thickest 3.2mm tape which Lizard Skins suggests is best for gravel or very rough roads. The 2.5mm thickness tape comes in solid colors,”camo” colors, or a unique “dual color” roll that is basically half one color and half a contrasting color. The 3.2mm tape comes in solid and “camo” colors only.
The DSP tape in 2.5 mm is described on the Lizard Skins site in the following way:
“Experience the best in bar tape. DSP has excellent durability, increased shock absorption and great feel in any condition. 2.5 mm thick for that extra bit of comfort and 82 inch rolls. At 56 grams per set (including plugs), DSP is the lightest bar tape. “
The 2.5mm tape has an MSRP of $41.99. Lizard Skins has this to say on their site concerning the 3.2mm tape:
The 3.2 mm DSP is our thickest tape and has a new distinct pattern. Tried and tested on the cobbles at the Paris-Roubaix course! 89 inch rolls and 78 grams per set. (including plugs)
The 3.2mm tape has an MSRP of $45.99
Lizard Skins stresses that this bar tape should not be stretched and they have a recommended way of installing it to provide the best cushioning and longevity for the product. (Watch the video here) Failure to put the tape on in the manner suggested will cause issues down the road. (No pun intended)
First Impressions: The tape was nice and kind of rubbery feeling when pulled from the box. It also had a slightly tacky feel as well. The installation was simple and by not stretching the tape during installation, it left it pretty soft feeling. Both the 3.2mm and 2.5mm were easy to install. Both looked great on the respective bikes I used the tape on.
Riding Impressions: So, with this tape I was expecting a bit of relief from vibrations, a good grip, even if my hands were drenched in sweat, and a long service life. First up- the vibration reduction. My first rides were with the 2.5mm tape (blue) and I felt that the ride feel was impacted somewhat positively. However; once I rode the 3.2mm tape, (green), I was certain I was getting some relief. By the way, both handle bars were aluminum, with the 2.5mm tape over the Spank Vibrocore™ Bar. (I’ll have somewhat to say about that bar and this tape in my final review of that bar, coming soon)
In terms of grip, I generally do not use gloves, and it was very hot in July here. So, the sweat was rolling but I was always able to get a secure grip on the DSP tape, no matter which thickness it was. Both were winners there. Finally, in regard to longevity of the tape, I have heard stories about how this brand doesn’t hold up as well over the long haul. Being a shop mechanic, I get to see thousands of drop bars a year, and I install hundreds of rolls of bar tape every year. Some people are “tape manglers”, and some people wear their tape off oddly, and then others make a roll of tape last a decade. (But please- don’t keep your bar tape on that long!!) So, I take the stories with a grain of salt. In my own experience with this tape, I haven’t noticed any degradation of the material, just a slight soiling. But when you ride in the dirt and dust, you’d expect a little of that.
At The Finish: The DSP tapes were good looking, and if you follow installation instructions, I think the tape would last a reasonable amount of time. Of course, one must take into account their typical wear patterns and lifespan for tape into account. That will vary widely based upon my experiences as a mechanic. For myself, I will say that I saw no evidence of accelerated wear. Now with that said, would I have seen more wear had I been a glove wearer, or used the bars with a heavy hand? Possibly.
The 3.2mm tape was very good at reducing vibrations, the 2.5mm tape? Meh….. Maybe. I’ve used beefy tape from other brands that feels similarly, so while the 2.5mm tape is quite nice, and has excellent grip, if it is vibration reduction you are looking for, go with the 3.2mm tape. I definitely felt a difference there.
This tape isn’t cheap, but it is about what many other “premium” tapes go for these days. If you aren’t a destroyer of bar tapes, and you install this stuff correctly, I can recommend it highly. It retains a good look over a period of time, doesn’t seem to breakdown in an untoward way at all, and it provides excellent grip characteristics even if you get the tape wet or sweaty. Get the thicker 3.2mm tape for the best comfort, but otherwise, these tapes are winners in my view.
NOTE: Lizard Skins sent over the DSP handle bar tapes to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review. We will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.