Brooks' Cambium Rubber Bar Tape is bar tape, made of rubber. So it's not just a clever name. It's pretty grippy and very durable, but difficult to fit and not particularly comfy. So it hasn't become a favourite. For a super-durable build it'd be a decent choice, though.
Available in natural or black, the Cambium tape has a dimpled finish that's reminiscent of synthetic tapes such as Lizard Skins DSP. It's not as stretchy as a synthetic tape, though, which means extra care is needed to get an even finish, especially round your levers.
You get matching rubber end plugs, which are good, and cloth finishing tape, which isn't: I found the adhesive came loose after a while and I swapped it for bog standard insulating tape. There was enough tape in the roll for my 44cm bar with a few centimetres to spare.
In use, the tape has plenty of grip. When it gets wet it doesn't get slippy, and it's very durable, taking knocks and scuffs in its stride. It's plenty hardy enough that it's reusable if you switch bars or you need to re-cable your shifters.
It's not particularly comfortable, though, certainly not anywhere near as forgiving as the better synthetic tapes out there. In terms of cushioning it's about on a par with a standard synthetic cork tape; you can pick that up for about a fiver, although that's certainly not as grippy or as hardwearing as this Brooks tape.
So should you buy some? Well, if you have an everyday bike that you ride in all weathers and that takes a fair bit of abuse, it has longevity and grip to recommend it. The looks – especially the natural rubber finish – would complement a classic build, though probably not as well as Brooks' own leather and fabric tapes. For racing, sportive-ing, audaxing and the like, there are better options out there, especially where comfort is concerned. My current favourite is Radial Cycles' Grippy bar tape – it's comfortable and grippy (hence the name) in all weathers, and costs a tenner. Compared with that, this Brooks tape looks pretty expensive.
Good for grip and durability, less good for comfort and value
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Brooks Cambium Rubber Bar Tape
Size tested: Black, includes Rubber Bar End Plugs
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Brooks says: "Padded rubber tape with a tough, durable surface with excellent grip in all weather conditions. Includes Brooks Rubber Bar End Plugs"
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's good at being grippy and not so good at being comfy.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Good quality, good grip in all weathers.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Not particularly comfortable, not cheap either.
Did you enjoy using the product? Not as much as some others.
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe for a super-durable build.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe for the right bike.
Use this box to explain your score
Scores well on the durability stakes and offers good grip, but not very well padded and quite expensive.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.