It was after carrying out a quick stock check of bicycle spares – I always like to keep a small stock of common maintenance parts, such as chains, brake pads and discs, cables, inner tubes and so on – that I realised my roll of grip tape was missing, presumed finished. Now, you may be wondering why I need grip tape on a bicycle? I use it on my pedals.
Well, grip tape, for those who are not familiar with the term is simply a roll of heavy-duty, very-sticky tape with a layer of sand-paper like material on one side. Silicon carbide is often used. It is used commonly found on skateboard decks and it’s also on the decks of my Swifty scooters.
This all started a few years ago. I was riding the Surly Pugsley along the beach at Aberlady Bay, splashing through the surf and across tidal pools out in the bay. Of course, eventually, you get wet feet, no matter what footwear you seem to be wearing at the time. I guess wellington boots would solve the problem but they’re not really suitable for cycling. I then tried wearing a pair of river sandals, open footwear used when paddling in rivers, canoeing or other similar water sports. They are designed to get wet and were almost ideal but they are not designed for cycling, the soles being too thin to be comfortable with the studs on the pedals. So, after some thought, I starting looking for flat pedals, ones without studs.
After some trial and error, I bought a pair of Speedplay Drillium flat pedals, removed the studs (with some degree of difficulty, I might add) and gave them a try. Of course, there was not enough grip with the studs removed and my feet kept slipping off the pedal. This is where the grip tape came in. A layer was applied to both sides of the pedal and the excess trimmed off.
Back out in Aberlady Bay again, they were perfect. I could even cycle barefoot if I wanted tpp and keep my footwear dry, though the grip tape is just a tad too rough for going barefoot for any length of time. However, the tape does wear down with use and gets more comfortable when barefoot. The grip tape does get damaged eventually, usually at the perforations on the pedals but is cheap and easy to renew.
Both my Surly Pugsley and the Surly Krampug are fitted with this pedal setup and I leave them fitted most of the time, other than in winter when cycling in snow, when the additional grip of studs is preferred. I would have fitted them to my Surly Ogre as well but the Speedplay Drillium pedals had gone out of production. I did find an alternative in Moto Pedals which come already fitted with grip tape but are slightly smaller in size and half the price as well.
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