Review: Silca Nastro Cuscino Bar Tape
When we built up our review bike to test out SRAM RED eTap AXS, we simultaneously tested out Silca's new bar tape offering. At the time, Silca made two tapes. The thinner Nastro Piloti (Italian for "Pilot's tape") went on the Alpha One base bar, and their thicker Nastro Fiore ("flower tape") went up on our Gamma extensions.
Why the split application? Well for one, I wanted to test both tapes. But more than that, I like extra-thick tape on the extensions, since it doesn't really matter much for aero purposes if your hands are covering it up. An argument can be made that thinner tape or no tape would allow your hands to present a smaller shape to the wind, but with so much going on behind them and around them, I doubt it makes a measurable difference. Then, on the base bar, I want to use very thin tape (or no tape at all), since the area there is nearly always exposed to the wind. If you can keep things tucked behind the frontal profile of your brake grips, as seemed to be the case on that rig (we used Shimano BL-TT79 levers, our favorite mechanical levers), you may not be looking at much penalty, if any.
So, I still like Nastro Piloti on the base bar. It's grippy, cushy, and no nonsense. But for the extensions, Silca has a new game in town. The aptly-named Nastro Cuscino ("pillow tape") ups the thickness about 50% compared to the Fiore, and claims to provide comfort similar to standard tape that's double-wrapped. I certainly don't have forensic equipment to test such a claim, but I do love the tape. More than that, I really hated the flower print on the Fiore tape, but the Cuscino opts for a more subtle and pleasant graphical treatment. Not only is it pleasant, but it's functional. The angle of the linear embossments also act as cutting guides! Just cut along the lines, and you're good to wrap.
If I'm going to get into the nitty gritty (and I always do!), I'll note that the tapes I bought do have some minor flaws. For one, they were not all the same length, differing by up to 75-80mm in total length. Not that it's a huge deal, there's more than enough for proper application on a bike, but still. And the "orange" tape is very decidedly yellow in color. On the other hand, the accessories included with the tape are absolutely top-notch. The finishing tape is lovely; it boasts a soft and supple rubbery feel, with subtle Silca logos emblazoned on its surface. Of course, any standard electrical tape will do, but this tape is very nice. Same goes for the bar plugs. The plugs are a lightweight, common-sense four-part design. Much like modern headset compression plugs, just far less robust due to their far lesser task (to stay in place rather than bear load).
At the end of the day, there's just not much to say. Nastromo Cuscino is a great tape. It's very cushy, very grippy, and makes my hands happy. Silca makes a load of great stuff, and we've reviewed a fair bit of it. Check out the gallery below, and thanks for reading!