Selle Italia Smootape Gran Fondo review
Selle Italia’s bar tape is comfortable, but tricky to wrap without overlaps or gaps
Selle Italia Smootape provides a complete kit to rewrap your bars. It’s comfortably padded and without adhesive backing you can reposition it as you wrap and potentially remove and reuse it. But taping without overlaps, as Selle Italia suggests you do, is tricky and I found this impossible over the bends and the levers.
Comfortable, thick tape
Good grip wet or dry
Washable and reusable
Tricky to wrap while avoiding gaps and overlaps
Despite Selle Italia’s claims, you do need to overlap the tape on the bends and levers
Selle Italia Smootape is made of squishy foam with tapered edges. It’s designed so that you can wrap your bars without overlapping the tape, leading to a smoother finish – hence the name. Selle Italia has patented the design.
In practice, you can’t really tape round the bends in the bars, or the levers, without ending up either with gaps or with overlaps. But on the tops and the ends of the drops, there’s enough stretch and compressibility in the tape to allow you to press adjacent wraps close to each other for a smoother look.
The tape is backed with a silicone strip, rather than being adhesive. This makes placing the tape on the bars a bit easier as you can unwind and rewrap if you haven’t got the positioning quite right. It also means that you can potentially transfer it to another bike if you want to. There’s still plenty of grip to make sure that the tape doesn’t slip around once you’ve wrapped your bars.
Selle Italia Smootape comes in a pack with two 1.8m rolls, bar end plugs, extra tape pieces for the underside of the brake levers and finishing tape for the tops. So it’s a complete kit to cover your bars and the 1.8m length, along with the non-overlapped wrapping, means that, unlike some other brands, Selle Italia gives you plenty of tape to cover your bars without needing to stretch the tape too much.
>>> The best handlebar tape and how to wrap it
Selle Italia Smootape is 3.5mm wide and 2.5mm thick at the centre. The Gran Fondo design is embossed with a random zigzag pattern that adds grip in the wet. The tape’s thickness means that there’s plenty of padding. I found this provided enough hand comfort even for longer, hotter summer rides, when sweaty hands can become sore or uncomfortable.
Selle Italia Smootape Gran Fondo comes in ten different colours, from the classic black and white options, to purple and two different shades of pink.
As well as the Gran Fondo version of its Smootape, Selle Italia also makes the cheaper Smootape Corsa (£14.99) and the pricier Smootape Controllo (£21.99). For ultimate luxury or to finish off a fixie or retro bike, there’s Smootape Classica, made of leather in four colours and priced at £41.99.
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Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.
He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.
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