I’m Digging the ESI RCT Bar Tape Nov 24, 2014


ESI has been making grips in the good ol’ US of A since 1999. Their silicone grips are my absolute favorite for a MTB bar – easy on, easy off with a four to six month lifespan. They’re tacky in the rain and offer plenty of grip through sweaty hands or gloves. While just about everyone will have nothing but positive things to say about the ESI grips, I’d never heard of their RCT Bar Tape before.

Dubbed RCT for “road, cross, triathlon”, this bar tape is re-usable since silicon is tacky enough without the use of adhesive. You can pull it hard and get it a bit thinner than it’s shown here, but I actually like the thickness, especially on a cross bike that gets ridden on trails. It’s easy to clean and doesn’t crawl around on the bars like other tapes do.

So far, I’ve had it for a few weeks and it’s taken its share of spills without showing any wear or tear. Time will tell how long it’ll last, or if it will replace my other favorite bar tapes – Fizik and Lizard Skin – but for now, I’m excited to have ESI products on my MTB and cross bikes.

You can see just how thick this stuff is by looking at the photos below. Head over to ESI for more information!





  • Any comments as to how it compares to the DSP? That’s been my favourite for a few years now (especially the extra-thick version for touring).

    • mywynne

      Also curious, as I swear by the DSP.

    • It would be like a 3.7 DSP.

  • barry mcwilliams

    I’ve never found a glove that fit me well, fatty fingers, so I’m a big fan of thick tape. Will give this a shot next time I retape.

  • D0rk

    I’ll give this stuff a try next time I need tape, but I just recently built up an SS hardtail and decided to try ESI Chunkys and have not been super happy. Not only are they already chewed apart at the bar ends from trees after only a few rides, to the point where my carbon handlebar is exposed, but they were an absolute pain to install even with copious aerosol glass cleaner.

    • dontcoast

      I found that an air compressor and rubbing alcohol almost a must for ESI grip installation.

      And yes, the bar end caps suck. Upgrade them.

      But everytime i ride a different grip without my super wicking gloves, i remember why I love ESI’s.

    • Raoul Morley

      Ah not just me then, I’m back on ODI Attack’s which actually seem to last think I did a set of ESI grips in a fortnight, of summer riding, the ends were just shredded exposing bar!

    • I install them with hand sanitizer and they go on easy. Love my ESI chunky grips!

  • Brian Sims

    Nice finishing technique with the little rolled edge. Has a nice clean feel to it.

    Is the finishing tape edge just rolled over and stuck to itself or wrapped around the edge of the bar tape?

    • poiuytman

      I’ve done this with electrical tape by carefully overlapping the bar tape by a few millimeters and stretching it hard enough that it curls over the edge.

    • btdubs

      ENVE bars have a built-in little rubber “hood” that folds over and covers the end of the bar tape, eliminating the need for bar plugs.

  • Adam

    I haven’t tested it personally, but the ESI tape is 100% silicone with no adhesive, so it is one of the few options for people with a latex allergy.

  • Scott

    I have some rolls of this stuff waiting to go on a bicycle that I’m currently building. Cannot add any comments about how it works in the field but out of the box it sure feel nice. Feels neither rubbery, nor foamy. Quite a nice texture/consistency.

  • John Jones

    I can’t think of using anything but arundel. So far still using my first rolls six years later. I have it on all seven whips.

    • I used to think that too, then I tried DSP and now I’m diggin the ESI…

  • Aaron Beasley

    As a mechanic, this is by far my favorite tape to wrap bars with. the finishing tape is super nice too.

  • Palla

    I love the esi mtb grips, tape is great for comfort but gets very slippery when wet, IMO not suitable for cx.

  • Tom Galbraith

    John, are you still using ESI wrap tape on a road bike bar? I am thinking about trying them out but cannot find any long term feedback I trust.