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  1. #1
    Member midnightsimon's Avatar
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    Cloth over Cork tape

    Hey tourers, a couple of quick questions.
    I'm in the process of putting the finishing touches on my ride which I'll be taking with me to Europe for a 5 month tour. For the bars, I'm planning on laying down a layer of cork tape (for padding), and then topping it with a layer of cloth tape to handle wear. Has anyone done this? Have you found trouble with bumps or uncomfortable crossings where the two layers overlapped?

    I'm also considering shellacking the cloth tape in order to make it... well, look really classy:
    My concern with this, however, is that shellacking over the cloth would render the cloth tape brittle, and eliminate all of the benefit of having padded cork underneath. Does anyone here have experience with shellacked tape? what does it feel like?

    Finally, I've had a friend reccomend laying down gel packs under cloth tape rather than cork tape for a base layer. Any experiences in this department?

    Thanks for your time, all.
    Daily ride - 52 cm Steve Bauer Scirroco fixed gear conversion
    Tourer - 54 cm 1960 French proto-cross bike of unknown make
    Live in/ visiting the Vancouver area? Get your ass to the midnight mass! Http://midnight-mass.blogspot.com.
    Follow my European Tour: http://midnightmiles.blogspot.com/

  2. #2
    Senior Member velo2000's Avatar
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    I've used the Fizik bar gel and bar tape on my road bike the past year and I've been really happy with it. The gloves I use on that bike aren't even padded but I haven't had any problems with my hands. I just installed the same kind of Fizik gel and tape on my touring bike (with trekking bars) and I like it so far as well. The tape is like a fake leather and can be pulled very tightly without fear of breaking. They even have some pretty colors you can choose from: http://www.fizik.it/products_accessories.aspx

  3. #3
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    My current set up has shellacked cloth tape over unshellacked cork. Prior to that, I rode with shellacked cloth tape only. No problems with any weird overlaps...the cloth tape went on over the cork smoothly and aesthetically everything looks good. And the shellacked cloth is not brittle over the cork. That said, I don't feel like the cork tape provides any additional cushioning under the cloth, however the bars do have a bigger diameter, which you may or may not like.

    Personally, next time I rewrap my bars, I'm going back to just shellacked cloth without the cork. I don't find it uncomfortable, and I prefer the smaller diameter that comes with only one layer of bar tape.

  4. #4
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Kind of along the same lines, does anyone know where you can still purchase the longer black dense foam tubes or cylinders that you pull over the bars? I would like to try that padding again on a set of trekking bars vs tape or cork.

  5. #5
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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  6. #6
    Always wanna ride
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    I have the standard gel tape, which is not really very padded. I found some nice squishy pipe insulation and then wrapped it in duct tape (Black duct tape at least!). It looks like hell, but it sure does ride nicely.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    I have the Fizik bar gel and tape and it is fabulous. Very cushy. Where my handlebar grips are next to the brakes, the regular rubber things, is far less padded -- and far less comfortable -- than the parts of the bar with the Fizik gel and tape.

  8. #8
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I used the black foam for years. ("Grab-Ons"?) I liked it. I'd have to replace it every year or so, because it would break down and the cushioning was reduced. I could always feel the metal through the black foam, so I don't know how much cushioning it was really doing.

    In spite of the foam, I was having hand problems - soreness and numbness, especially after a 2-week tour. It took weeks after I got home for the numbness to go away. That scared me. I decided to try a different solution.

    I saw some new foam by Aztec in my local bike shop. It looked promising. Instead of just wrapping the bar evenly, the foam was shaped to make the top of the bar flatter - more surface to spread out the weight. It also seemed stronger than the black foam grips - offering more serious protection.

    I tried it. I liked the first batch, but the tape that was supplied didn't work very well. It slipped and exposed the foam, and the whole thing started to fall apart.

    I didn't give up. I bought another batch and applied it. This time I wrapped the whole in two layers of cloth tape. That was much better. The entire wrap is pretty big, but I have big hands. I use XXL gloves (which are also padded.)

    I still wasn't finished. I heard a lot of people recommend that people with my kind of hand pain should raise their handlebars until they are at least level with the seat. Since I'm tall and have long legs, I've always ended up with my seat several inches above my handlebars, because my seatposts have had a lot of capacity for raising, but not my stems. So I bought a Nitto Technomic stem. It was amazing! I was able to raise the bars higher than the seat. I felt like an old man with the bars up so high (I mean, older than I am), and it didn't feel right, so I lowered them a little, but it's good to know that I can raise the bars more if I want to.

    Since I took these steps, my hand pain has gotten significantly less. I'm going on a multi-week tour this summer, so I'll probably have more thoughts afterwards.

    But, in short, I recommend padding, and a double wrap of cloth tape is good for me. If you have smaller hands, you might find a fat bar uncomfortable, but I can't say I even notice it.

  9. #9
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    I have bad carpal tunnel syndrome and like tons of padding. I cut a closed-cell foam camping pad ($15 at Walmart) into 3/4" strips and wind those around the handlebar. Then I wind gel tape tightly around that. It looks bulky at first but quickly packs down to a nice comfortable padding that retains its softness over time.

  10. #10
    Senior Member grolby's Avatar
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    Cloth over cork is my personal favorite bar wrap thus far. The cloth goes over the cork just fine. I happen to like it because I get the padding from the cork, but the tactile comfort of the cloth. Cloth tape also just looks nicer. The one problem is that you've got to be sure to get your cloth wrap right the first time. When you remove the cloth, the sticky adhesive on the backside will destroy the cork tape.

  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Why cover the cork with anything? It seems comfortable and holds up well all alone.

  12. #12
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Color me strange, but I put down the cloth tape first and put the cork over it (both black). It feels good to me, so I'll probably keep doing it whenever I change my bar tape, which is as little as I can get away with. I also use really wide Nitto noodle bars, and trying to get a roll of cloth tape to go all the way on a side ranges from a challenge (46cm) to pretty near impossible (48cm - I told you I use wide bars). Cinelli cork, though, seems to cover an entire bar side, even the 48's, without much problem.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  13. #13
    Member midnightsimon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1
    Why cover the cork with anything? It seems comfortable and holds up well all alone.
    2 reasons for me - 1, I like how the cloth looks, and 2, I want something to take the wear from my hands/ little misshaps (eg, bike falls over, ect). I ride daily in the city, and have yet to have bars wrapped with just cork last more than 3 months - I imagine a 5 month tour is going to be a bit rougher than my daily grind.
    Daily ride - 52 cm Steve Bauer Scirroco fixed gear conversion
    Tourer - 54 cm 1960 French proto-cross bike of unknown make
    Live in/ visiting the Vancouver area? Get your ass to the midnight mass! Http://midnight-mass.blogspot.com.
    Follow my European Tour: http://midnightmiles.blogspot.com/

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