Every Wednesday morning, the workers from the Selle Royal factory are released for an espresso & sweets break. They rush down to Pozzoleone’s premiere pasticcerie, to procure parcels of fresh bombolini. Steaming bombolini in hand, they cycle to the nearby cafe, drink espresso out of impossibly adorable tiny cups while gesticulating wildly, no doubt arguing over the previous night’s football game or the perfect texture of a good crema. As one should. After an extremely long coffee break, they pedal back to work.
At the Fizik bar gel mold machine, Giovanni and Giuseppina squeeze the leftover bombolini into the mixer. The bubbling pastry boils and pops as it is reduced to a clear, essential goo. Giuseppini pulls the lever, which bears a passing resemblance to a magic wand, and the sweet Italian essence is pressed, ripping hot, into thin flat forms and left to cool in the gelato freezer.
The next day, the cooled strips are dry cured in the Parma ham building at the back of the lot. After aging the filling for 2 years (no less, no more), the goo has hardened to a semi liquid form. This is sliced to shape and placed on a bit of non stick baking tray liner. The final product is boxed up and shipped out to discerning bike shops everywhere.*
This Fizik gel isn’t the same gel 'they' put in cheap Walmart saddles, padded shorts, Dr. Shoals foot beds, or in those swirly gel pens. It’s not the same gel I put in my hair at age 13. That was L.A. Looks. Can’t remember if I used the green bottle or the blue bottle. Never you mind. It’s not a non-crystalline non-glassy. Nor is it a thermo-reversible solid-material composed of a liquid-organic-phase entrapped in a three-dimensionally cross-linked network (aka an Organogel).
Actually, maybe it is. I have no idea what that means, so it’s hard saying. But my point here is, this gel is different. I spent my career in normal bike shops waging war against gel saddles, gel gloves, gel’d hair, gel tape and the like. That’s because all of those gels are bad! They are either total BS (gel tape has no gel insert, it’s just a gel material that is used for the adhesive backing), or they are really bad for you. Gel saddles, for instance, can destabilize your hips as you pedal, in the same way a too high saddle height can do. But Fizik’s handlebar gel is different. For one, it’s pretty firm. Firm enough that when you press down on it with a finger, you only compress it about half way. That’s good, it means you won’t compress all the way through it to the handlebar. It also means that it won’t act like a water bed and push up (ie cause pressure) right next to the area that it is relieving pressure from.
It’s well made, it will eventually break down and become bombolini filling again, but that can take years. I’ve seen still serviceable Fizik gel thats 5 years old. It gets yellow, from your sweat, which, never mind, the reason sweat is yellow is really gross. Let’s not talk about it.
You can use the gel again and again. When you switch bar tape, keep the gel in place.
Trim the gel with sharp scissors before you pull the backing material off. Hold it up to the bar, and lay it where you think you will want it. It’ll wander a bit, but not much while you wrap the tape. Just sorta wiggle it back into place as you go. You don’t have to tape it down first, in fact doing so will compromise the comfort of the gel, like putting a corset on it.
Basically, every set of drop bars out there should have Fizik Gel. I can't think of a single instance where this tape is not applicable, except, I guess, for museum bikes and restorations. At Analog, we put this gel under cloth tape (looks fine, don’t wince), Brooks tape (also made by Fizik) and our customers dig it. If you ride a bike with one side of the bars done up with gel and the other without, you will pick the side with the gel as the more comfortable side. We do this for doubters. They always sign up.
*If you think this is true, you should consider joining Sun Ra and his band on the outer rings of Saturn.