grippy when dry or wet;
just-right amount of padding;
very cost-effective upgrade;
no shifter strip;
A low-tech, cost-effective upgrade for your bike that offers some comfort, and additional control in nearly all riding conditions.
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The Pacific Northwest Components Coast bar tape has a subtle but distinctive pattern that’s grippy and effective in a variety of riding situations.
New bar tape is one of the easiest ways to improve the feel of — and confidence in — your ride. Of the three touchpoints on a bike, the most cost-effective upgrade is new bar tape. New tape costs less than new shoes or pedals, does not require a bike fit or trial and error with a saddle swap, and can make a bike look new. And that new-bike feeling, while not exactly quantifiable, is still fun to ride.
Also read: Review – Easton EC90 AX gravel handlebar
In my experience with a standard 42cm shallow-drop handlebar, each roll was just enough to cover the bars. The PNW Coast bar tape has an adhesive backing about one-third the width of the tape, which helps keep it in place during installation and also to prevent the tape from twisting while riding.
Unfortunately, the PNW Coast tape does not include a short piece of tape to go on the back-side of the brake lever clamp. Normally you can just cut off a bit from the roll if you want to use a separate piece on the lever clamp, but the roll here isn’t overly long.
Get a grip
I tested the tape inside in sweaty conditions and outside with and without gloves. I found the PNW Coast bar tape offers great grip in nearly all conditions. When wet, my hands don’t slide, which is paramount for positive control, and the tape seems to shed moisture effectively. The Coast bar tape offers good traction even when soaking it in sweat. When the Coast bar tape is dry, it feels “tacky” enough for excellent purchase even without gloves.
At 2.4mm thick in the center of the strip (and 1.2mm thick on the edges) there’s ample padding for gloveless riding. This is thicker than Silca Nastro Piloti (1.8mm) which costs $10 more, and .4mm thicker than the Fizik Vento Microtex at the same price.
While PNW claims the Coast bar tape is shock-absorbing, I can’t say that I’ve found this to be the case any more so compared with other tapes. The modest padding on the PNW Coast may deaden some vibration, but not like a heavier-duty wrap like Silca’s Cuscino bar tape, which offers 3.75mm thickness.
The PNW Coast bar tape is a simple, cost-effective upgrade for nearly any drop-bar bike. If you’re planning to put it on wide bars with a lot of flare, you’ll want to take care when wrapping, so as not to come up short on the top of the bars.
The Coast bar tape has enough padding to alleviate some discomfort on longer rides, and it feels like it provides an excellent connection with one’s handlebars. The tape is slightly tacky when both wet and dry, and it’s durable for those who are diligent about keeping handlebars off of the ground.