Indianapolis-based Silca continues to expand their range of bicycle accessories – from inflation, to tools, to packs, and more. Today they’re announcing a new line of bar tape, called Nastro. It features two distinct styles: 1.85mm-thick Nastro Piloti, and 2.5mm-thick Nastro Fiore. Featuring a unique laminate construction, tunable grip level, and custom fit butterfly hood clamp cover, Silca is challenging the bar tape world head-on.
Silca Nastro Piloti & Nastro Fiore road and gravel handlebar tape
Bar tape is all-new for Silca, who is better known for their work in high-end pumps. They didn’t want to sell any old bar tape, however, and sought to re-think the project from the ground up. In an e-mail from Silca CEO, Josh Poertner, we learned of their laminated construction, which allows for more exotic foam to be used. To get around trade names, they’ve dubbed the technology SILCAthane and SILCAlon.
SILCAthane is a tacky TPU (if you’re like me, you had to Google this to find out that it means thermoplastic polyurethane). We’re told this has great wet and dry performance, and is five times more durable than other tapes. SILCAlon is said to be the big story, however, and is a custom durometer of ultra high-efficiency foams used in high-end running shoes like the Nike React.
According to Josh Poertner, Silca CEO,
“My vision here is that ultra supple tires and tubes are faster AND more comfortable because they absorb lower energy on bump and return more energy on rebound… they also work better under high frequency vibration because they return to their original thickness faster than damped foams. The problem with traditional damping foams used in bar tape is that your weight compresses the foam, then under vibration, the foam can never fully recover thickness fast enough to properly absorb vibration.”
Using this theory, Silca opted to offer thinner tape options for lighter weight and better feel, with vibration damping that’s equivalent to thicker tape. Specifically, they claim that the 1.85mm Nastro Piloti has cushioning equal to competitors’ 2.5mm tape, and the 2.5mm Nastro Fiore has cushioning equal to competitors’ 3.2mm tape.
Hands On: Initial Thoughts & Impressions
Product releases don’t always happen on a perfect schedule, so we had just one afternoon to install and quickly evaluate the new Nastro bar tapes.
The packaging is as you’d expect from Silca (nice), and explains the unique features of the two tape options. I only had one bike ready for tape, and went with the thin Nastro Piloti.
This is where the two tapes start to differ. The thin Piloti has two grip patterns, and you wrap the bar accordingly to give you High grip or Max grip. I picked Max because… why not? The thicker Fiore doesn’t have the tunable grip, instead going for a single grip and floral graphic pattern.
While wrapping the tape, I noticed that you have to be very careful to avoid wrinkles. The Nastro Piloti is quite thin and doesn’t seem as stretchy as traditional tapes, so the leading edge of your wrap doesn’t always conform to the bar. Wrap it tightly and meticulously to help avoid problems. This is not the tape for first-time wrappers.
The piece of tape behind the hoods is a source of great controversy, but Silca nailed it. There is full adhesive backing on this piece, meaning that it actually sticks down where you want it.
After installing the tape and going for a quick glove-less ride, I can tell you that it is indeed very grippy and feels quite nice (though it’s impossible to tell if it lives up to the vibration and energy return claims, at least for an initial review). Both Nastro tapes are available now, with the thin Piloti selling for $40 (black, white, red), and the thicker Fiore for $44 (black w/ white floral, black w/ neon yellow floral, white / black floral).