Splash Gallery of Horror

I have harbored a deep resentment toward Splash bar tape for many years.  I don't like it on any bike, but I find it particularly offensive on vintage and classic bikes.  I think Splash is the ugliest and most inappropriate bar tape you can use on your vintage or classic bike.  It is downright undignified.  Whenever I see a vintage or classic bike (hell, any bike really) with Splash tape, I cringe.  I can only remember one bike that didn't look bad with Splash tape (you can see it below).  All others look somewhere between inelegant and ridiculous.  I have decided to finally do something about it.

I will use this page to display the horror that is Splash tape.  I will add all the Splash bikes that I see.  If anybody you know has a Splash bike or intends to use Splash on their bike, bring them here and show them how ugly their bike will look.  Then take them to any of the bikes in my gallery, and hopefully they will see how much better their bike will look with a solid color tape.

I really don't have the time for this project, but if I can stop at least one more bike from being degraded by Splash tape, it will be a noble and worthwhile effort.

You can help by sending me photos of ugly Splash bikes that you are unfortunate enough to see.

And for those of  you who think that Splash tape looks great, please send me photos of all the pretty Splash bikes you see.  I can't wait.


Thank goodness for small, poor quality pics.


A Brian Baylis with Campy 50th Anniversary gruppo, and Splash tape.  Oh, the horror.

The stem is pretty awful too, but that's a different rant.

A common mistake.

The Splash here matches the frame colors, so it should look good, right?  Well it doesn't.  It looks horrible.

The tape should be solid white or black, or possibly a solid silver/gray.

And here we have the one bike I have ever seen that doesn't look half bad with Splash tape.

The colors on this Land Shark match the Splash tape so well that I wonder if the paint job was designed with this particular Splash in mind.  In any event, whoever put the bike together judiciously used a half-wrap of Splash.  That's probably what saves this bike from being another Splash horror story.  A full wrap would have been too much, even with the perfectly matching Splash.

Back to the horror...

This bike was offered for sale looking like that.  Yes, really.

Posted September 14, 2010

Another Baylis with Splash!  OMG!

A fellow CR member who will remain anonymous (thanks for sharing L.D.) outed himself with this horror story:

 I got the Baylis built and needed bar tape.  Couldn't find anything in my parts bin, so I reused this black and white splash. Didn't last long as everyone gave me grief about it. :)

The lesson here is that we should not keep Splash tape at home, lest we be tempted to use it in an emergency.

Another fellow CR member shared this bike (thanks G.H.):

G.H. tells me that he wanted to add a little bling to the bike, so he went with the red/black Splash.  I think the bling would have been achieved better with solid red tape.  It would have been bright and colorful but still elegant.  The good news is that G.H. has moved on to solid black tape, which I'm sure looks a million times better that the red/black Splash.

Here is an interesting pair of similar Davidson frames.

The Splash tape on the bike above makes it look like a messy horror story.  A solid white tape would transform it into a uniquely colorful but still elegant bike, sort of like the one below.

These pics were submitted by CR fellow C.N. from California.  The Splash bike is his and he loves the Splash tape on it...(obviously we can't help everybody.)

Posted September 15, 2010


C.N. from California - Out and Proud!

Meet C.N. from California, real name Charles Nighbor.  Charles obviously wasn't kidding when he said he loves his Splash tape.  Here he is with his other Davidson, also set up with Splash.  Charles feels that Splash represents a celebration of life.

OK...I acknowledge that opinion.

Charles, I don't approve of your choice of bar tape lifestyle, but I respect your Splash-pride.  You go guy!

(Does he have Splash on all his bikes?  Scary visual, huh?)


Yes, he does have Splash on all his bikes!

Nah, just kidding.  It just feels that way, the way he keeps pulling out one Splash bike after another.

Here's Charles' latest contribution to the Gallery of Horror, and I have to say, it's a great contribution (if you know what I mean).

Posted September 20, 2010

Humble vintage bikes deserve respect too, but look at what happened to this one:

J.G. from the CR list contributed this bike and this story:

Saw your post on CR and thought I'd pass this along.  I pick up bikes if I see them out for the trash or in a yard sale cheap, tune them up and sell them on craigslist.  Here is one I recently sold, when redoing the bars I finally found a use for the clearance splash bar tape that had been floundering in my bar tape box for years.  I'm pretty sure the buyer was under the influence of something, but he loved the bar tape.  You'll be glad to know on my personal bikes I generally use standard cloth tape. :)

That's why I say, don't keep Splash tape at home.  And I will add this: don't buy Splash tape at any price!  No matter how cheap, even if it's free, you're better off without it.

Horror from Holland: a former pro-team bike with Splash.

F.F. in Holland has this horror story to share:

I bought this bike somewhere in Belgium from a guy who didn't know what it was. And actually I didn't know too, until I did some research. The moment it came into my house I took the Splash tape off, and washed the whole bike several times. The bike was so smelly, it was unbearable. When I came into the house of the seller, the stench just took my breath away: cigarette smoke, the smell of french fries that were apparently prepared there day in and day out, and a general unclean appearance of everyone and everything...how a rarity like this 1989 ADR-Bottecchia team bike ended up there, is a mystery.  I discovered that besides the really unpleasant aesthetic aspect of Splash tape, there is this uncanny ability to hold smell...

F.F. is a hero for rescuing this bike from Splash and a stinky existence...but he still asked to remain anonymous.

When you want your bike to be unappealing to thiefs...Splash!

K.K. in Germany explains:

This is my commuter. In this case the Splash tape is meant to "complement" the paintjob and also work as a theft deterrent. It has done it's job up to now, ...

K.K. knows the Splash is ugly and he's using it for that reason...I guess K.K gets a pass on this one.

This is what I'm talking about...

S.K. from Illinois has this to say:

I don't think I've been quite as offended by Splash tape as you.  Heck, back in those days, there were a lot more offensive fashion items in the cycling world, primarily the color schemes and graphics styles. But, just as a lesson to the youngsters to be cautious about fashion lest it come back to bite them in the backside, let me submit my beloved Borthwick bike, circa 1990:  I can't decide if the dirty tape hurts the looks of the bike, or if it helps by minimizing the Splash effect.  :-)

Well S.K., we all did crazy stuff in the 80s and early 90s...the important thing is, you know the Splash tape was wrong.

Thanks for sharing S.K., and please send me a current pic.  I'd really like to see this lovely classic the way it's supposed to look.

(P.S. - Yes, in this case, the dirt was your friend.)

A recent exchange on the CR list:

Question:  Honestly, what is so bad about Splash tape?

Response:  Except for those few machines on which it looks good, it takes so much away from the simple elegance of vintage paint schemes by drowning it out in business. It just screams for attention, distracts the eye, and dissolves the "unity" of the visual experience into a fragmented laboratory-type slide view of some infectious disease. Other than that, nothing's wrong with it. Nothing at all.

D.R from California - A Case Study

D.R. is a typical C.R. guy who loves classic road bikes.  He has a stable of great looking steel bikes, including these:



Three very nice bikes, all properly and tastefully set up, right? Right.  D.R. obviously knows what he is doing.  And he's cool with making fun of Splash tape too.  He contributed the following excellent Splash horror photo:

D.R. added this comment to the horror photo:  It's hard to say, though, if the tape detracts from the aesthetics of the bike. And I like Zunows.

See what I mean?  D.R. is one of us.  He gets it.

So...how do we explain this aberration:

D.R. submitted his Zunow as an example of "Splash done right." Of course I told him there is no such thing.  I told him his very cool and elegant Zunow (downright sedate, by Zunow standards) desperately needed a solid white Bike Ribbon tape.  He wrote back:

I use Splash sparely, and am usually fond of solid colors (cloth or cork, sometimes leather). But the red+yellow Zunow matched the Splash (that I just happened to have in a box of tape picked up at a swap meet or something - don't really remember) so closely I couldn't resist. Chalk up another testimonial for "don't keep Splash at home" I guess.

I think it's self-evident by now: exposure to Splash tape can affect our better judgment. So let's be careful out there, alright?

D.R., thanks for sharing.  Please fix the Zunow and send in a pic so we'll know you're Splash free.

Posted September 16, 2010

From bad to worse

This Fuso was involved in a crash.  Fortunately the Splash tape survived and the owner was able to use it on his replacement bike:

I call this going from bad to worse, because the Fuso was a simple and elegant frame, while the replacement frame, the Recherche, with its traditional white panel graphics, has a pronounced vintage look to it.  So, while the Fuso looked bad with Splash, the Recherche looks even worse.  (In case you are wondering, yes, these are DaMo's personal bikes and he set them up himself, including the Splash.)

If you must use Splash, please don't use it on vintage (or vintage-looking) frames.  It's just wrong.

My thanks to Anonymous for snitching on DaMo ;)

Posted September 18, 2010

As seen on eBay

Even if the yellow on the Splash matched the yellow on the frame (which it doesn't), wouldn't this Gotti look better with white Bike Ribbon tape?

Wouldn't it be likely to fetch a better price?

I guess if you're not the kind of seller who would bother to find a solid colored wall to use as a backdrop, you're not likely to rewrap your bar with a solid colored tape either...

 Posted September 18, 2010

Introducing the Splash Scale O'Horror

From 0 to 10, with 0 being a bike with no Splash, 1 being a bike that looks great with Splash, and 10 being a Splash bike that makes you say "the horror, oh the horror," outloud.

Let's try it out on the following bikes, culled from the "show us your rides" thread on the Road Bike Review forum.


This Sabatini is one of the less offensive Splashes I've seen (it's still ugly, but relatively speaking, you know...).  I'd say it's a 4.

This Marinoni looks silly - I give it a 6.

This sad Concorde could look better - but not that much better - without Splash, so I only give it a 7.

This Raleigh is a classic bike that would look beautiful if not for the horribly misguided choice of bar tape.  I find the use of Splash tape on bikes like this most offensive.  I think it deserves a 9 on the SSOH.

From now on I will grade all new entries to the gallery according to the Splash Scale O'Horror (SSOH hereinafter).  Let me know what if you disagree with my grades.

My thanks to top horror contributor J."O."W. for finding and submitting all four of these beauties.

 Posted September 20, 2010

One good thing about Splash...

...it makes it possible to find a genuine 70's  Masi GC for dirt cheap, like Dan Artley from Maryland did.  He paid $200 for this bike, at some beach in Florida!  I am not keeping Dan anonymous because he's got nothing to hide - the first thing he did after he bought the bike was to take off the Splash.

Well done Dan.  Now please send me a current pic so we can be sure you took off the Splash.  (It's not you - it's the Splash I don't trust.)


By the way, the act of Splashing such an iconic vintage bike is so heinous in itself, that regardless of appearance, any bike like this gets an automatic 9 out of 10 in the SSOH.

Posted October 6, 2010

No, fixies do not get a Splash pass.

Especially not when you do the fixie-butcher-job to a vintage bike.  First you chop off the hanger and the brazeons, and then you add Splash?  Talk about adding insult to injury.

D.R. of Connecticut owns this bike.  If you happen to be his buddy, talk to him , tell him to do the right thing.

 Posted October 6, 2010

Spotted in the wild...streets of Portland.

Built by the well-known and respected Jim Merz, this bike is out there, clearly earning its keep, and yet suffering the indignity of Splash.  Please, if any of you Portlandians see it, commit an act of kindness and rip off the Splash.  Just do it and run away.  If you get caught, tell the judge it's not vandalism if you actually make the thing better.  Do it for Merzy's sake (sorry, sorry).

My thanks to Erik Reese of Portland who spotted this Merz with Splash and recognized it as "the ultimate sin" (his words, not mine - good man).


SSOH grade:  I think high quality and hard-working bikes like this one deserve respect, so I'm gonna give it an 8.5.

 Posted October 6, 2010.



Jim Merz wrote to say:

That brown Merz on your photo site was made for Terry Dodge. I have not heard from him in ages. That was a very special frame. Terry wanted me to use Columbus PS tubing. You can't see in the photo you have, but the fork has round tubes and a hand made sloping crown.

Posted October 18, 2010


Top horror spotter J."O."W. submitted this one, with the following comment:

In the design business you call this an "inspiration piece".  Disgusting paint scheme? Lets accentuate it!  I call it more of a bad thing.

I agree that the paint scheme is ugly, so this bike is already ugly with or without Splash.  Therefore I give this one only a 6 in the SSOH.

Posted October 7, 2010

Look honey, won't this tape look great on the tandem?

No, honey, no!  As J.O.W. said of the Merckx above, the Splash here is just more of a bad thing.  In order to make this paint scheme something you can live with every day, you need to keep the rest of the bike simple (read, white or black Bike Ribbon).

SSOH grade: same as the Merckx above - on the strength of its paint job, a solid 6.

Posted October 7, 2010

The Germans love Hasselhoff.

And the Dutch seem to love Splash.  Peter Lammertsma of Holland wrote to tell me that he feels the same way I do about Splash, but:

...but of course it did not stop me from buying this classic Nuovo Mexico a short while ago.  The pic shows how I bought it, of course the tape has been removed (I didn't even do a test ride with the stuff still in place) and it will be replaced by either white or black Bike Ribbon (although I have to admit to have a weak spot for Benotto thin tape from the 70's ).  The bike is being cleaned at the moment, the aero levers will also be replaced with conventional Campy ones.

Now that man knows how to deal with Splash.  He wouldn't even test ride it!  Well done Peter.  I salute you!


SSOH grade: classic bikes like this one automatically get an 8.  On this bike, if the Splash had been other than B&W, it would have gone up to 8.5.

Posted October 7, 2010

Splash by any other name...

This is Silva cork tape, so technically it is not Splash...but it is still butt-Splash-ugly.  And the criss-cross hemp twine wrapped over it, makes the whole thing uniquely weird.  Without a doubt this is a deserving entry in the Splash Gallery of Horror.

This beautiful Frejus is owned by M.T. of Santa Monica, CA.  The bike used to belong to his dad, and M.T. did an amazing restoration job.  I have seen the "before" pics, and believe me, he brought this bike back from the dead.  Unfortunately, M.T.'s insistence on using natural cork tape made him drop the ball right before the end zone.  Oh so close - and yet, so far!

A laminate of natural cork (or cork graphics?) and Peptobismol pink foam.  Would you put this tape on that Frejus?


M.T. is fearless, he actually sent me this close-up of his cork tape!

Actually he is a really nice guy.  He and I have discussed this "situation" at length.  He knows this tape doesn't look right, and is willing to change it to black tape, but it must be a natural cork tape.  The closest he could find was this Silva cork tape.  I suggested black Cinelli cork tape, but among other reasons, he rejects it as too modern looking (!).

If you know of a source for natural cork tape, please let me know.  Maybe we can help M.T. finish his dad's bike (right now, as far as I'm concerned, it's not finished).


I am going to give this bike a 9.5 on the SSOH.  The highest horror score yet.


M.T. wrote to say that the cork is real (not just a cork graphic); that it's spectacular in the hands (a Seinfeld reference); and that the color is not Pepto-pink but rather brick.  He also said that he is working on it, so hopefully one day soon I'll be receiving an updated pic of the Frejus, without the offending tape.

Posted October 17, 2010

I'm sure this looked good at the time...

...but it looks like a mistake now, doesn't it?  This classic American frame by Romic was offered to the CR list and on Craigslist.  I hope it found a good home where it was cleaned up and dressed in a more dignified way.  Red Bike Ribbon or Benotto tape would probably be a cool way to go here (see, I don't always go with white or black).

My thanks to horror spotter L.D. from Orlando, Florida (he of Baylis with Splash #2 fame, above).


SSOH score:  a solid 8.5.  This bike needs very little to look great, and the tape is a small but critically important factor.

Posted October 17, 2010


This Romic is on eBay right now with no takers at $800 Buy It Now (thanks to fellow Splash-hater J.P. for spotting it).  It has gone unsold on eBay at least once before (as well as Craigslist and the CR list before eBay).  I am convinced that Splash is the main culprit.  If the seller (1) re-wraps with white tape, (2) cleans the dirty white brake hoods (Simple Green will do a good job), and (3) reshoots the bike around noon (the seller takes good photos but they'll be much better when the sun isn't behind him, throwing those distracting shadows), then this bike will look so much better that it might just sell.  Hopefully the seller will read this and take my advice, and I will be able to post a happy update very soon.

Posted December 5, 2010

As seen on the streets of Lyon, France...

The Peugeot above is ugly, but the poor Peugeot below is more than that.  It is a sad sight.

These are humble but respectable Peugeot bikes, and they deserve better treatment by their owners (especially the second one, poor thing).  I score them high on the SSOH:  an 8 for the first one and a 9 for the second one (those upturned Splash bars take horror to a new dimension).

These bikes were photographed by D.R. of Connecticut (yes, he of Schwinn-Traveler-turned-fixie-with-Splash fame, above).  My thanks to him for posting the pics on his Flickr page.

Posted October 17, 2010



That's all the horror I have for now.  Please keep sending me your contributions.

And remember: friends don't let friends use Splash tape on their bikes.






Created September 10, 2010