My partner currently has a Surly Crosscheck and has leather handlebar tape on the handlebars. Although durable, the problem is the leather is so thin and lacks cushion that when he rides long distances, his hands get extremely sore and tired. Using gel gloves helps but only provides relief for so long. He's going to be doing a bike tour and wants to replace the handlebar tape prior to his journey. He's looking at two different kinds:
I keep a small, long towel on my bars. I use it for additional padding on long rides, as a sweat towel, and wrapped around my head if it gets cold (riding up the mountains it can easily drop 20~30 degrees).
Suggest that bar tape may be a secondary concern. Was the frame size and fit determined by a professional fitting session? Has the rider had a medical examination to evaluate hand / wrist conditions?
Bar tape can lessen some road vibration, but if there are already issues while wearing padded gloves then more likely too much weight is being put on the wrists or there is a medical condition that makes them overly sensitive.
A higher riding position up front would be more effective than adding another layer of padding. That could mean raising the bars, going to a shorter stem or changing the bars altogether. And that assumes that the frame size itself is correct.
Who knows if some upper body workouts, especially for the forearms like holding 30 pound weights and walk with them. Bike position is very important to distribute weight accordingly and this way minimize the hand/ wrist pain.
If upper body workouts, push-ups, bike fitting, handle bar tape, gel gloves (which dont do crap), nothing helps then consult your doctor as you may have some hidden symptoms. Who knows maybe a visit to the chiro will do...
I fitted a half set of grab on dense foam sleeves, then cotton taped over the rubber,
to keep it from sun, drying and shredding.
Its possible to glue Leather onto those sleeves then install them.
but Aero cable routing makes that rather difficult.
that was the 80's. Now I double wrap my trekking bars,
I reuse the older tape as the 1st layer..
Drop bars being gripped mostly on the top, a double pack of padded tape , and use i roll cut in half
you can wrap the upper portion 1st, put some of those Gel pillows on top of that,
then wrap the whole bar with the 2nd pack ..