When one’s thoughts drift to a versatile tape, those thoughts always drift to duct tape (it’s not duck tape). Part of this, of course, is comedic gold. The rest is the reality that duct tape is some truly wonderful stuff.
This infatuation with duct tape ends at home improvement, though (or lack thereof, as the case often tends to be when one resorts to duct tape).
For we avid enthusiast cyclists, our “tape of all trades” is electrical tape. And not just any electrical tape, either. I’m talking about the good stuff.
Anyone can pick up some cheap, brittle electrical tape at the local hardware store that will either fail because of the crap adhesive or crack because of the cheap material, but for those of us who demand excellence in operative use, we go for the Scotch Super 33 or Super 88 (7 mil for the 33 and 8.5 mil for the 88):
The working temperature range on the Scotch electrical tape is phenomenal and will, if you’re using it on a bicycle, work in temperatures beyond those that can be comfortably cycled in… so it won’t fail like the cheap stuff as soon as temperatures dip below freezing.
I like to add four or five extra wraps at my bar tape so that, should the need arise (and it has), I’ve always got an extra foot. In fact, just at the beginning of fall, a few friends of mine and I were out for a ride when one of them had their bar tape unravel from the bottom (the plug had popped out at some point). Before long he was trailing a foot-long piece of bar tape from his drop. He tried to hold onto it for a bit, but when he complained about it at our next stop, I just pulled off a few inches of my extra tape, ripped it off so the end would be at the underside of the bar where you couldn’t see it, and handed him the piece.
He wrapped his bar back up, secured it with the tape and we rolled on for the rest of the ride (20 or 30 miles if memory serves) without an issue. Electrical tape also makes an excellent frame protector, especially for black bikes. Helicopter tape is great, but electrical tape works better and won’t leave an impossible-to-remove layer of glue on your frame when you peel it off.
Brake a shifter cable? No problem. Take some of that extra tape and secure it to the frame so you can ride home. Brake a bottle cage? BAM, electricians tape will hold that broke piece of plastic or carbon fiber together till you can get home. Split a tire on a piece of road debris? A couple layers of well placed electrical tape will hold your tube in (or hold a dollar bill in place) till you can get home to fix it.
I’m sure I could come up with a few more uses, but you get the idea. The humble bumble electrical tape is a cyclist’s best friend. Long live electrical tape!