Just curious, do you buy a thinner stick to compensate for the added tape?
I tried tape (on hickory) when I was touring and liked the grip but didn't like the added thickness. When I was able to get thinner sticks, I didn't like the weight and fragility of the stick then.
I tried the AHEAD's as well, and wanted them for the durability and not necessarily the shock reduction, but like others found that they felt almost too flexible.......like you lost some "oomph" in your strike. To me it felt like when a stick splits along the shaft but doesn't break free. That solid feedback just wasn't there. They also seemed very slippery to me. I can see why you use grip tape.
I use AHEAD's 5B Light Rock model, which has a .595 diameter at the handle. After I apply grip tape, I'm sure it's over .600, though I do wrap the tape tightly. I have a medium hand, but I like a larger handle, as it permits me to grip the stick very loosely, enhancing my rebound-oriented technique. Smaller diameters have always felt like pencils to me.
I've never cracked or broken an AHEAD stick. I should mention that my drumming is neurotically clean. Ninety-nine percent of my stick contact involves only the tip -- unless I'm cross-sticking, which doesn't cause much wear on AHEAD sticks. The only time I use the neck or shoulder is when crashing cymbals, and I employ crashes sparingly, as I believe the crash to be the most overused component of a drum kit. A single pair of AHEAD sticks can last me close to a year, even if I'm playing five or six days a week.