Silca Nastro Piloti Bar Tape: Quick Review – by Grannygear
Bar tape has come a long way since the thin, fragile cork-type tapes of days past. Now it is even high tech. The colors and thicknesses are quite varied and you can pretty much have it your way. It is also a disposable item, so it is not unusual to go through a set of bar tape each season. And with the cost of premium tape at near 50 bucks a pop, its not a trifle.
Established brands like Lizard Skins, Fizik, etc, grab most of the market share but I have used tape from Ritchey, FSA, and others, like OE tapes from Cannondale and pretty much found them to be all pretty good. My favorite at the moment is Lizard Skins, but my wife is a real Fizik fan, not liking the ‘feel’ of Lizard Skins tape. I have some new FSA tape that I have not tried yet, but that also looks promising.
So when Silca sent me a box of the new Silca Nastro Piloti tape, it was right when I was testing some handlebars on the road bike. Silca makes some interesting claims about the Nastro Piloti, so let’s have a look at that from the Silca website. https://silca.cc/collections/bar-tape-1/products/nastro-piloti
” Inspired by advancements in running shoe foam and F1 tires as well as our own research into rolling efficiency, impedance and damping, we realized that materials technology could allow for a significant improvement in bar tape. Using a laminate of SILCAthane, SILCAlon and 3M Visco-elastic adhesive instead of a single foam extrusion, the tape can be optimized across a range of desired features. The resulting tape has a softer, more comfortable feel, higher wet and dry grip, better vibration isolation, and 3-5x the durability of existing tape materials. Since the actual wrap of the tape can be as important as the tape itself, we’ve also developed a full adhesive backed ‘butterfly’ to better cover the back of the lever clamp area without adding bulk, a high grip finishing tape and expanding aluminum/composite end plugs to ensure every detail is perfect. “
- Ultra Performance 1.85mm thick Tri-Laminate design delivers equivalent cushioning to 2.5mm tapes
- Racecar inspired Dual-Tread deboss allows tape to be wrapped for High Grip or Max Grip depending on wrap direction
- Aluminum expanding bar-end plug
- PU finishing tape
- Butterfly shaped brake clamp cover
SILCAthane and SILCAlon not withstanding, what I found most interesting were two things: The ability to tune the ‘grip’ level of the tape and the claim about this being thinner than, but equivalent to a 2.5mm tape in cushioning.
Opening the package showed enough tape for a handlebar, a pretty cool set of metal end caps rather than the typical plastic push-in plugs I typically see in a bar tape package, a butterfly shaped piece intended to wrap the brifter and hide the offending plastic body of the controls, and a finishing piece to secure the tape at the bar tops rather than using electrical tape, etc.
Very nice actually, all this. I have to say that Silca, even when I am not big fan of a certain product for whatever reason, always does a very classy job of things for the end user. Kudos.
Bar tape is certainly one of those things we, who come from mountain biking, have to get used to. MTBers do not tape…we grip. So when I began to ride road bikes many years ago, I had to figure out how to wrap this snake of material around my bars and controls and end up with something that I would not be ashamed of. It was a journey and I only just recently have done it enough to get pretty good at it…pretty good. Not great.
So Nastro Piloti in hand, I went to work. First I applied the butterfly patches onto the controls and was pretty pleased with that. That was quite a bit better than the typical section of bar tape that most kits come with. Very nice and very sticky and stretchy. So far so good.
The tape feels more rubbery than something like Lizard Skins does, and I did not see any instructions on the level of tension applied to the tape when wrapping, so I tried a rather loose but firm tension at first. I was immediately struggling with uneven gaps as the tape spiraled up the bar. OK. Unwrap a bit, more tension. Better, but boy is this tape picky. Now I had decided to wrap the tape in the high-grip direction just to see how that was. The best I can tell, it relates to what section of the tape is most in contact with your hands and how it is exposed. I am not so sure if really is all that different, but I did not try wrapping it any other direction, so I cannot say.
But I really struggled with getting the tape to lay down smoothly. I am sure there is a knack to it…maybe less angle in the wrap or more tension or something. Maybe I just need to be better at this. In any case, I got it done and ended with the nice and very stretchy final finishing tape piece.
On the road I was impressed by two things: The level of grip and the ability to cushion more than the thickness of the tape would suggest. The rubbery tackiness was good at holding my gloves in check and although I did notice the decreased diameter of the 1.85mm tape, especially in the drops, I got used to it. I still was unhappy with the lumpiness of the wrap, but since I was getting ready to swap to another bar, I figured I could do better next time. That was when things got a bit pear shaped.
First of all, the finishing tape piece was a bit of a ‘one and done’ deal. I don’t think I could have reused it. OK, back to electrical tape. As I unwrapped the Nastro Piloti tape, I noticed that I had pulled off some of the surface material with the tapes’ own adhesive. Bother.
So I slowed down and unwrapped a bit more cautiously. No matter…still more lifting of the SILCAthane or SILCAlon or whatever the top layer is. When I went to re-wrap the tape onto the other bar, I still could not get it to lay down well and finally just unwrapped it and tossed it aside. Enough.
Now to see if I had lost all my bar wrapping skills, I grabbed a set of Lizard Skins 2.5mm tape and set to work. No issues…eezy-peezy. The Lizard Skins does not have quite as much grip to it, but it is fine (note that I do not ride in wet conditions hardly ever) and the absorption is just as good. I happen to like the increased diameter.
In the end I lost patience with the Nastro Piloti. Maybe it requires a Masters level degree in bar wrapping but across about 6 different brands of tape I have used, this was the only one I could not get to behave. And I simply cannot put up with the way it tore itself apart when removing it. Who wants to buy new tape just because you need to unwrap them for a bar change or a cable change or whatever. Yes, you may also need new tape too, but maybe not. Just recently I was moving some bars around with the Lizard Skins tape and it went on and off with no damage to itself…laid down nicely. And Mrs. Grannygear was learning how to wrap bars and had to redo a section of Fizik tape over and over as she learned…no issues with delamination.
Which is a shame because I do think the Nastro Piloti does do what it says in the tactile related areas: grip and cushion. I just cannot live with the rest of it.
Suggested retail for the Nastro Piloti is $40.00.
Note- Silca sent the Nastro Piloti handle bar tape to Riding Gravel for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we strive to always give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.