- 5 / 5 Bee's Knees -
PRO, the Shimano accessory and select component brand, is possibly a lesser known name among riders though it seems it has recently been drawing more attention. Though the name isn’t yet the first to come to mind, PRO offers some great products that come from a family with pedigree. Now, for a short but sweet review, the PRO Smart Silicone Digital Carbon Handlebar Tape.
To begin with, bar tape varies greatly in quality but also in material preferences. Some like it tacky, some sticky, some dry…yes we’re still talking about bar tape here. Personally, I favor a bar tape that finds a happy medium between the overly dry or almost chalky foam tape and the most tacky rubber tape such as the offerings from Lizard Skins. With this preference in mind, the Digital Carbon model hits the nail on the head. This polyurethane tape has the padding depth of foam, the compliance or cushion of rubber with a grip level that falls in between the two. Neither slick nor sticky, this tape responds well to rain, perspiration or dry conditions maintaining a relatively consistent feel. Padding is generous but not bulky. Additionally, the material allows for differences in padding by wrapping the tape tighter or looser. A grid pattern, marketed as Digital Carbon, is very subtle and is pleasing both esthetically and with its tactile feel.
Adding more to love, the Smart Silicone adhesive backing dishes out many benefits. For one, the backing claims to assist in unwrapping, aka, less tearing and mess upon removal. Because the tape has been so durable and easy to clean, I have not had the opportunity to test this, but it does seem to have the necessary properties to hold itself together. Second, the silicone band has some depth to it which again adds comfort in the form of cushion and vibration absorption without any bulk. Similar to the first note, taping a bar up is also made easier as the adhesive releases easily enough if you need to unwrap/rewrap a short portion.
Preferences in bar tape, or any accessory for that matter, is highly subjective. For cyclists who seek what I’ve described, (a balanced level of grip and a moderate level of padding) the Smart Silicone Digital Carbon tape is absolutely spot-on perfect. There are other good tapes on the market and I’ll continue to try new ones, but this tape is my current favorite and it will likely remain a go-to tape when my trials of new tape leaves me disappointed.