What's it like to ride NALAC tapes?

riding NALAC tapes.

Rider - Haden Stevens  

There’s been a huge boom of recent in the bar tape market. Originally just leather straps to give you some extra purchase on the bars, these days there’s no end to the range of comfort and designs on offer. A huge fan of supporting local, I jumped at the chance to work with Brisbane-based outfit NALAC and see how their two best selling tapes- the Squadra v2 and Peloton v2- handle bad weather, big km’s and a whole lotta rough and tumble.

I had the pleasure of using the Squadra v2 Tape for 5 weeks: in total about 100hrs of dirt, mud, snow, rain and all the other wonderful stuff winter in Melbourne normally entails. Strapped to my trusty gravel bike (a titanium Curve GXR), they’ve seen everything from casual commuting around town and bunch rides to weekend bikepacking trips that usually involve spending 12hrs+ in the saddle. Needless to say they’ve gone through the ringer.

After first installing the Squadra, I was concerned the tape wasn’t going to perform as intended. Being so tough and rigid, it had to be stretched pretty tight to get enough coverage on my flared 44cm bars- the end result being a tape that felt about 2-2.5mm thick. I’m confident you’d have no issues on standard road bars, but to get a little extra coverage it needs some encouragement.

Despite being a tad thinner, I’ve had zero complaints with the comfort of the tape. For the record, I have standard Giant 2mm tape on my road bike and I definitely get aching hands after an hour or two, so it’s not like I’ve got tough hands or anything. Having spent (literally) all night hanging on to those bad boys, the high-density core in the Squadra is a real winner and upon removing the tape (a sad moment) I’ve seen only minor compression and deformity.

As for grip, well suffice to say when you’re charging down bumpy singletrack... in the rain... with no suspension...with gloves on, your hands tend to want to move around. I swear the Squadra’s made of super glue. A very similar feeling to Lizardskin’s famous tackiness (is that a word?), the circular design reminds me of industrial non-slip matting and goddamn do your hands stay in place. They’re not going to be everyone’s favourite because of this, but for winter riders and those of the gravel and cyclocross persuasions, they’re a blessing. 

In search of something softer and more friendly for round-town, I swapped to NALAC’s Peloton v2 tape. They’ve still seen the full range of use and, curious to see how grippy they are, I’ve been sure to put them through plenty of rain and mud. Although claiming to be the same 3mm thickness, fresh out of packet the tape came out to just under 2mm. It could have been due to the compression of being packed down, but thankfully after 2 weeks and 40-odd hours I haven’t found any padding issues with them. Maybe not quite as comfortable as the Squadra but in saying that I haven’t had any discomfort with them yet.

With a subtle wave pattern through it, the Peloton lives up to its name as a great all-round road tape that certainly wouldn’t look out of place on a high end aero bike. Being softer, I feel that my hands can relax better on the bars and can move to different positions with ease. This luxury does come at a price however; due to some slight movement my hands have to hang on tighter when pushing hard up steep hills. Not to say I was falling off the bars, but there’s a stark contrast between the rock solid grip of the Squadra and the plush cushioning of the Peloton.

Between the two models, I’m confident you could kit out any bike you’ll ever own in NALAC: your gravel/winter thrasher in the Squadra and your weekend racer in the Peloton. Tough, durable and more than comfortable enough for 99% of riding you’re likely to encounter.

It’s awesome seeing new components and accessories brands popping up these days- all of them either delivering fresh new design or functionality that better meets riders needs. Nalac delivers on both fronts and I’m really looking forward to seeing them grow and refine their offering for years to come!

 

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