Round Up: 6 Ways Mountain Bikers Use Tape to Keep Their Bikes (and Bodies) Fast

Mar 2, 2021 at 13:13
by Alicia Leggett  
This, but maybe classier.

While the bike industry continues to create solutions for problems like storage, bike noise, and more, few products solve as many problems at once as simple tape.

I know I’m biased because I tend toward janky solutions for situations that could probably be solved with more finesse, but as it turns out, I’m not alone. While plenty of elegantly manufactured solutions exist, sometimes simple fixes are just nice. Plus, tape is cheap enough that the humble product might deserve some recognition as the everyman's fix that it is.

Here are a few uses for different tapes that have earned approval from (at least some of the) Pinkbike editors and pro riders alike.

1. On-Bike Storage

Tape is the obvious solution for storing tubes, tire plugs, and enduro bananas. While this article shows off the countless nice storage options, I have more tape than I have Velcro straps or SWAT anything. Mike Kazimer says electrical tape storage is for heathens, but at least Martin Maes and Greg Callaghan are with me on this one.

Enduro World Series Madeira 2019 bikes
Martin Maes' EWS bike in Madeira, 2019

Greg Callaghan
Greg Callaghan's liberal use of Gorilla Tape for tool storage

Alica s Almost Dyna Plug
And then there's this photo of my own bike from a 2019 bike check

2. Grip tape

While it doesn’t matter too much if an average out-for-a-lunch-ride rider slips off their brake lever or doesn’t shift at exactly the right time, the stakes are higher for pro downhill racers, and any tiny hiccup can take the hundredths of seconds that mean winning or losing, podiuming or not podiuming, and big changes to a make-it-or-break-it career. Grip tape on shifter and brake levers is something we see on pro bikes that might trickle down as a useful tip for the rest of us.

Remi Thirion's Leogang 2019 race bike

Clear grip tape on Recce Wilson s shifter.
Reece Wilson's Andorra 2018 race bike

3. Rim tape

Tubeless is ubiquitous among pros nowadays and it simply wouldn't be possible without rim tape.

Most pros will use a branded variety but Gorilla Tape is the unofficial official rim tape among mountain bikers, according to my unscientific understanding. While plenty of companies make perfectly good rim tape, there’s something to be said about the widespread availability, ability to cut down to width, and ease of use that Gorilla Tape provides at half the price of dedicated rim tapes. RC gave an explainer 2012, in case anyone is still wondering today.

What you ll need One roll of Gorilla Tape don t substitute any other brand all you potential cheapskates a pen a box knife with a brand new blade tubeless valve stems we used American Classics your favorite wheels and a measuring device.

For the ultimate rim taping job, you need look no further than Ruaridh Cunningham's mid-race wheel re-build at the Ainsa EWS in 2018. Among the tools used to bodge that wheel to the finish were three layers of tape, 3/4 of a liter of sealant, epoxy and a pair of snips for horse hooves. The story behind this impressive, 8 pound construction can be found here.

A little extra insurance against total rim failure. A spoke was used to hold the cracked seam together.
Taken from Ruaridh Cunningham's ultimate rim rescue job.

4. The sound of silence

Velcro tape is a well-known solution for chainslap and any other annoying on-bike impact noises (cables tapping the frame, anyone?). While there are countless chainstay protectors on the market, some of them excellent, I still somehow find myself making one out of an old tube and some electrical tape for any bike that doesn’t come with a built-in protector.

Along those same lines, electrical tape can be worth its weight in gold to stop cables from rattling where they enter a frame (wrap the housing in electrical tape so it doesn't bounce around in the port) and to tie unruly cockpit cables together.

No such thing as too much velcro tape at the World Cup.
Velcro tape is the finishing touch for some World Cup race bikes.

5. Frame protection

At some point, electrical and Gorilla tapes are outgunned by other tapes, and frame protection is an example (with the exception of the homemade chainstay protectors mentioned above). Still, 3M tape (or any variation of 'racer tape,' helicopter tape, etc.) is a cost-effective alternative to pricier options like InvisiFRAME and RideWrap, and will definitely do the trick if the $7k+ you just spent on your new bike cleaned out your frame protection fund. Read the frame protection rundown to learn about the options for frame protection... all of which involve tape of some kind or another.

Racer tape
3M tape might not come pre-shaped for your bike like some of the options, but it's easy to cut to whatever sizes and shapes you need.

6. Body tape

And then there's athletic tape in all its various forms.
This is another instance when electrical and Gorilla tapes just don't quite cut it. I'd recommend keeping both medical tape (the non-stretchy kind) and kinesiology tape (the stretchy kind) around for body taping purposes.

20 Photos - 20 Stories

Having said that, every "I'm hardcore" downhill racer has a story about the time they taped their hand to the handlebar so they could still hold on while injured. The rest of us at least have taped injuries to keep the blood in and the dirt out and/or to support the pieces while we're still pretending we don't need to see a doctor. (Or is that just me?)

You'd better believe I taped that sucker. (Then added a wrap later to try to keep the swelling down.)

But that's not to say Gorilla tape is out of the question. Ask Adrien Dailly. It might even help a person win EWS races.

Adrien Dailly your fastest man of the day. Speed nipple tape has to be a factor.
Adrien Dailly at the EWS Pietra Ligure 2020... which he won.

What else do you use tape for on your bike? Why or why not should we all keep some tape in our riding packs and in our garages? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
737 articles

  • 282 5
 I think we’ve reached peak pandemic content barrel scraping.
  • 23 2
 It’s becoming more and more apparent every day.
  • 22 3
 We’ve been there for a bit, PB is mostly product placement pretending to be rider videos, interspersed with racing news.

If it was a subscription service I would be here, so I guess I can’t really complain.
  • 5 0
 Ill race you to the next proper PB post. Shit, Ill race you anywhere at this point.
  • 18 0
 They could make an article about the over-centralization of bike production in Taiwan and how it's partly (massively ?) responsible for the stupid situation we are in ? Or the fact that no one else worldwide seem to be able to cast some magnesium lowers with the same quality ?
  • 6 2
 @Will-narayan: everybody wants domestic production autonomy and economic stability, and yet everytime some sort of tariff or trade sanction is placed to that end people cry foul and "racism" and stomp their feet at their favorite luxuries becoming more expensive. irritating really.
  • 4 0
 So, tape sticks to things, and can also cover or hold things? Thanks! Perhaps next we can have an article on the obvious uses of zip ties?
  • 82 1
 Free the nips
  • 1 0
 Always free the nips!!
  • 4 0
 @brandaneisma: That's gonna sting a bit....
  • 39 3
 Scotch 8896 is basically Stans tape, and is way better than Gorilla Tape. You can buy huge rolls of it for cheap on Amazon that will last you forever (instead of the few wheels that the Stans roll will do).

Also, mastic tape can be picked up at any hardware store and is amazing for silencing bikes (better than Velcro because it doesn’t collect grease/dirt) or taking care of cable run spots.
  • 1 0
  • 19 0
 F*CK Gorilla tape. A good wheel builder could build you a new wheel faster than it takes to clean off a rim after gorilla tape has been on there so you can properly tape it next time.

This Scotch 8896 stuff looks good, and also good quality Kapton tape works as well and loads better than gorilla.
  • 3 0
 @NorCalNomad: Kapton tape is what american classic used and in my experience works better than stand tape
  • 2 0
 @bikeryder85: kapton tape is my go to rim tape. Comes in a variety of widths, is super strong and light (even with two layers), and sticks to my carbon rims much better than Stan’s.
  • 4 5
 @NorCalNomad: Why clean it off? The residue is adhesive and keeps the next layer on.
  • 7 0
 @gafoto: not when it's contaminated with sealant
  • 2 0
 have switched over to clear gorilla tape, it's flexible and doesn't leave any nasty residue
  • 3 0
 Tesa 4298 is indistinguishable from Stan's tape.
  • 2 2
 @NorCalNomad: it’s not that hard to clean off
  • 4 0
 @travieso429: multiple personal and 2nds hand experiences refute that
  • 6 0
 Gorilla Tape SUCKS as rim tape. Can confirm. Porous, residue is terrible, and it comes up too easily when you change tires.

Give 8896/Kapton/etc a try. Way better.
  • 1 0
 @eh-cee: Is kapton tape stronger than stans? I switched to gorilla because a broken spoke punched thru stans tape. Not that I break spokes very often, but it's annoying to have to put a tube in just because of a broken spoke to ride out.
  • 2 3
 @NorCalNomad: just use rubbing alcohol super liberally and a proper cloth not shop towels and its not that hard to get off
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: I don’t think any kind of tape can stop a spoke from going through it. It’s thinner than stans but for whatever reason has a better adhesion to my carbon rims. With two full layers it’s still thinner than a single layer of Stan’s and feels more robust. A roll of this stuff is so cheap you should give it a try, and will last you for dozens of wheels.
  • 24 0
 Gorilla glue is making helmets these days. super light, arrow, and buckle less.
  • 11 0
 *must be surgically removed
  • 7 0
 Helmet hair?
  • 23 0
 "3/4 of a litre of tape"

That's a lot of tape.
  • 13 0
 Pour me another glass of tape, would you?
  • 20 5
 Slow day at the office??
  • 4 2
 Ha! Totally. Tape! Let’s talk tape! Enquiring minds want to know.
  • 1 0
 Seems like that!
  • 7 0
 I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the content.

Thanks Alicia !
  • 11 0
 Those plugs are sticky right? Don't they get covered in dust and lose some effectiveness if they exposed like that?
  • 12 0
 Getting pumped for the op ed on zip ties. When is that dropping? ????
  • 1 0
 They still need to tighten that one up a click..
  • 8 1
 I will never use Gorilla tape as a tubeless rim tape again. Used it on 3 bikes and all where leaking after some months, and it's a pain to get the glue of the rims. But it is very good for other purposes. I always carry a little roll of this tape for longer mtb missions, bikepacking, camping and split boarding.
  • 10 0
 But what tape is best for your nipples?

...asking for a friend
  • 4 0
 From my days of riding moto with a roost protector on... I can confidently say electrical tape hahaha
  • 3 0
  • 4 0
 @RonSauce: dammit, ive been using grip tape
  • 2 0
 Is your friend “Drax the Destroyer”, perchance? Wink
  • 7 0
 Seriously! Add being a sweaty hairy bastard... any tape that can withstand the sweat and stick for a whole ride comes with a mandatory waxing afterward. But, gentlemen, if you have any sense of self-preservation, do NOT complain about this minor cycling inconvenience in front of your very over-tired breast feeding partner.
  • 1 0

Yep, you're definitely still at the time of not being able to do ANYTHING right.
  • 4 0
 @enis: My wife hasn't breast fed for 8yrs... and I still don't do anything right
  • 2 0
 Plus, for the sagging Boomer riders, Tape can be used to " lift and separate", like the Seinfeld episode about the "Manzierre"............
  • 3 0
 To answer this seriously, I wear a one size smaller than normal compression shirt (which is form fitting as is) as my base layer for any lengthy or choppy ride. Doesn't really add much for heat as it wicks and breathes. It works amazing under my chest protector for moto. And it even holds in my gut a little bit. I don't know why more people don't wear them.
  • 1 0

I choose the " Bro"
  • 5 0
 I once fixed Yoann's rear wheel 5 minutes before his race run with a hammer and a roll of duct-tape. It help up the entire race run too!
  • 1 0
  • 4 0
 24h racers were taping tools and tubes to their bikes way before the Enduro scene came to fruition. Deffo a +1 for slow Saturday at PB HQ.
  • 4 0
 Old boss says you can fix anything with a roll of tape and bailing wire. I guess he never owned a Command Post.

But will you cover bailing wire next?
  • 1 0

Safety wire?

  • 4 0
 Just some days ago i put the gorilla tape roll that was lying in my garage over the shifter of my car. Nothing can stop me now.
  • 4 0
 That tubeless plug needle is just waiting it's opportunity to stick on your leg.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, not super safe looking
  • 1 0
 I have tape wrapped around the part of my dropper that sticks out of the frame, I use it as bandages and to tape parts back on to my bike that are trying to get away. Bonus its flame duct tape so it looks like my two stroke spitting flames.
  • 4 1
 Would taping up your whole body in duct tape still count as a skin suit as per UCI rules?
  • 2 0
 Only one way to find out! Lets hope you're hairless.
  • 1 0
 @z-man: I didn't I was doing it haha.
  • 1 0
 @z-man: Or will be hairless soon enough......
  • 1 0
 My saddle keeps going by applying a fresh layer of duct tape every couple of months. Two minutes work and it saves me a lot of money. A possible downside is looking like a cheapskate, but i don't mind.
  • 1 0
 I use grip tape on the code brake levers my DH bike because over time I had smoothed out/polished the metal from use and was losing grip on the lever.
  • 2 0
 I sand my code levers then apply tool dip.
  • 2 0
 @bradn104 Plasti-dip - also insulates from the cold and prevents the hydro-line tingle.
  • 3 0
  • 3 0
  • 3 0
 An Evil on Pinkbike?
  • 2 0
 This was the least exciting episode of "Pinkbike - Inside the Tape", yet.
  • 1 0
 You missed Gee's velcro gloves and when greg minaar taped his hand to the handlebars racing Downtown Lisbon in 200?
  • 1 0
 Ah, thought this was going to mention RockTape, the Physical Therapy tape used heavily by racers and PTs in sports medicine.
  • 2 0
 I have some dirty tapes in my garage. Let's not forget that kind
  • 1 0
 Fascinating and informative! A deep dive into multiple bike-related uses for different kinds of tape.
  • 2 0
 Hate Tape.
  • 2 0
 Too sticky for you?
  • 2 0
 @extratalldirtrider: He's too sticky for the tape.
  • 4 7
 From my experience I would not recommend Gorilla Tape. I used to use it a lot but the tire can get stuck to the side of the tape becoming impossible to remove. I once had to cut the tire in half all the way around to then be able to pull the tire off the bead. If I had to remove the tire trailside it would have been hopeless.
  • 7 0
 You're cutting it too wide.
  • 3 0
 I found a trick recently where you put your foot on the tire close to the bead as the tire is laying down, then pull up on the rim near your foot to pop the tire off. Seems to work for my gorilla-taped wheels.
  • 2 0
 Slow news day...
  • 1 0
 Many of the Moto dudes tape their nips too.
  • 1 1
 And ode to tape... why though?

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