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Brooks Leather handlebar tape



High quality bar tape that looks good and lasts for ever, but not the comfiest

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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Brooks' leather bar tape has appeal beyond retro builds and classic bikes, thanks to its longevity and good looks, but it's not the comfiest bar tape around, or the cheapest.

At £40 (a bit less if you shop around), you expect some quality tape and that's what you get, crafted from leather and perforated with an adhesive tape backing. There's also some nice cloth strips to replace the more usual insulating tape and some cork bar-end plugs too.

It's not the most flexible tape so it's a bit of a pain to fit but once it's there it stays put and looks lovely, acquiring that nice leathery patina over time. It does absorb a lot of water when wet, but it doesn't affect the level of grip, which is okay but not up to modern synthetic levels. Nor is the comfort level; it's quite a hard tape and if you like a lot of cushioning it's not the one for you.

The most appealing aspect of the tape is its longevity. I've had this tape on three bikes, over the course of six months now - not something you can do with most synthetic tapes which would rip. It's as good as new; better than new, in fact, because it looks nicer now than it did straight out of the box. Keep it on one steed and it should last for ever, basically. If you want reliability and a classic look, and you're prepared to spend the cash, it's an obvious choice - I really like it. Gilles Berthoud and Cinelli both make leather tape too, but you'll be paying even more for those, especially the (admittedly very classy) Cinelli Imperial which is much thicker and which has comfort very much to the fore. But if you just want good bar tape then synthetic alternatives are cheaper and comfier.


High quality bar tape that looks good and lasts for ever, but not the comfiest test report

Make and model: Brooks Leather handlebar tape

Size tested: Tan

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 has reintroduced a classic product that may force many cyclists, more familiar with modern alternatives, to reassess the material they rely on for grip and comfort. Leather, a naturally durable and breathable material, has been overtaken by a plethora of man-made fibers and materials in recent years but could be on the verge of a comeback among cycling aficionados.

Andrea Meneghelli explains: 'Some good things just never change. One of these is certainly leather, a material used since thousands of years for clothing, shoes, etc because of its unique properties. Sometimes innovation for innovation's sake sees traditional materials - which are still capable of outperforming newer ones - left behind as fashions change. Today most handlebar tapes are made of plastic, synthetic cork or micro-fibres but Brooks believes that by reintroducing leather it could become the next big thing among discerning cyclists.'

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

2 strips of adhesive perforated leather bar tape.

2 adhesive cloth strips.

2 bar end plugs made of cork and wood, featuring the Brooks logo.

Rate the product for quality of construction:

one of the ends came off one of the cork bar-end plugs, but it glued back on. other than that, perfect

Rate the product for performance:

Judged solely on performance it's good without being exceptional

Rate the product for durability:

Should last pretty much for ever

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:

Again, not the best ever in comfort terms

Rate the product for value:

£40 is a lot of money for some bar tape, but it will last

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The look and the durability

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Comfort levels

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes and no, but mostly less

Would you consider buying the product? Maybe

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes for the right application

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 38  Height: 190cm  Weight: 98kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium with SRAM Apex

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

Add new comment


aloadofpants | 12 years ago

Made in China and not uk, so £40 = bigger profit margin

ashy_2002 | 12 years ago

Charge Ubend bar tape is a great product ... fake leather but looks good on a new or retro build ... love it... have used all 3 colours on all my fleet!!! and won't use anything else... long lasting and resilient ... far better than cork and far cheaper than real leather.....  23

rjw | 12 years ago

I found it far too slippery, to the point of being unusable with the majority of my gloves. I got rid of it after a few weeks with no regrets.

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