Stuff We Like: Newbaum’s Cotton Bar Tape


I’ve been a fan of cotton bar tape forever. I like how it feels, I like how it looks, and I like that it’s a natural product.

My favorite cotton tape is Newbaum’s. They make a fantastic milled cotton tape right here in the U.S. using only eco-friendly dyes. It has an adhesive backing that’s sticky enough (but not too sticky), and it comes in 10′ rolls that are long enough to easily do one side of any handlebar with plenty left over (there’s nothing worse than running out of tape before you reach the end).

Newbaum’s is available in 14 colors. My favorite is the #23605 Yellow. I coat it with Zinsser BullsEye Amber Shellac to achieve the nice Brooks-like honey brown shown above.

Good stuff!


12 Responses to “Stuff We Like: Newbaum’s Cotton Bar Tape”

  • michael says:

    I always think that cloth tape looks great, but I have to think that I would miss the cushioning from my usual cork. How much do you find it affects the feel of your ride?

  • voyage says:

    I like gloves. I wear them a lot (not always). Most of my gloves seem to be made of polyester/polyleather. They work okay for me.Would cotton gloves be even better? I haven’t given much thought to glove-tape experience in the context of materials. What do you think?

  • Alan says:


    I like the wool glove, cotton bar tape combo. Comfy, yet very grippy.


  • Sharper says:

    For a while, I’d wrapped my bars from end to stem entirely in cotton twine, but finally gave up when the complete lack of cushioning became too much. How squishy is the cotton tape?

  • Alan says:

    Shellaced cotton tape is decidedly NOT squishy.

    I dislike squishy tape – it makes my forearms tired because I feel as if I’m squeezing a rubber ball for hours on end.


  • Eric says:

    On my LHT with 33mm tires with a Nitto Noodle bar, I have used both cotton and cork bar tape and find very little difference in comfort (my hands have always been very comfortable). I think there are sveral factors at play:

    1) Riding position: if more of your weight is on your arms/hands cushioned bar tape may help

    2) Tire size: using big(gish) tires reduces the vibrations from the road and reduces the impact of cushioned bar tape

    3) General handlebar comfort: I tired out a Nitto Albatross bar for a few weeks with cork grips and found no matter how I adjusted it, my hands hurt after riding (unless I got the bar way above the saddle but then my butt from too much weight on the saddle). I don’t think I would have been comfortable even if I had wrapped the bars in an inch of foam with a layer of goose down on top; just the wrong setup for me.

  • doug in seattle says:

    I love this stuff. It’s more consistent in quality than Velox and comes in a wider variety of colors than the Japanese stuff. The best of both worlds! It’s also durable. I love the faded, worn out look it acquires after a couple thousand miles. Note, I do not shellac my bars.

    I don’t mind that there is no cushion whatsoever with the cotton stuff: I use wide tires (35mm-41mm) which reduce road buzz way more than the cushiest handlebars ever could, and for long rides I use padded gloves which do what padded cork tape without the (to my eye) unpleasant, bloated look.

  • Molnar says:

    Michael, you can get a little extra cushioning by putting a second layer on top of the first. I’m sure Newbaum’s won’t object.

    The only problem I have with Newbaum’s is that it requires a change in technique to wrap without having the paper backing get in the way or the whole roll unravel. After almost 40 years of using Tressostar (no backing), this is a bit of an adjustment, but I’m sure you youngsters will have no trouble.

  • Mr. S. says:

    I use shellacked cotton tape on my racing bike, and even with the lowish bars and 28mm tires have little trouble, but it is all about the gloves: make sure your gloves do not slip on the shellac in the rain (leather is best), and doesn’t it make more sense to pad the palms of gloves rather than a whole bar?

  • Sharper says:

    @Mr. S:
    When I spent every morning slipping on lycra for my ride to work, a set of gloves wouldn’t be any big deal. I’d like to think I’ve matured since then; now, I’d much rather just walk out the front door as I am and ride away, so I don’t have to carry a change of clothes or worry about where to stash my gear — even just a pair of gloves — when I arrive.

    I’m pretty happy with the simple Charge bar tape I’m running now, but I really do miss the look of the wrapped twine, even if the comfort wasn’t there at all.

  • Ron says:


    I just wrapped and shellacked with red Newbaum’s and bull’seye amber. I love the color, but it doesn’t agree with the cherry powdercoat on my LHT. I may try again with the yellow–that honey look is great, and it wouldn’t clash so bad. Then again, I’ve got one of the LHTs with a finish that bruises like ripe fruit, so I may have it powdercoated anyway.

    Mine is pretty comfy. I wrapped it over my existing, slightly tattered Specialized S-wrap. It looks better than I expected; it’s not lumpy or uneven. But the shellac does seem to stiffen up the cotton significantly–there was more cushion to the S-wrap before I added the cotton layer.
    Happy Trails,
    Ron Georg

  • Alan says:

    Thanks for the report, Ron! Send pics sometime…


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