Bars and Tape
Handle Bar Tape
Bar tape is cheap and easily changed and visible, and you feel it all the time. Therefore, make it a color you like to look at, and a color that looks good with the rest of your bike, and get something that feels good to you. It is easier to get comfortable hands with high handlebars than by padded tape. Gloves help, too. Padded tape is fine if you like it, but cannot by itself make up for low bars, which we feel are the main culprit in the hand-comfort problem.
We prefer organic materials, because they just feel better, and they look better to start off with, and they age better. Cloth bar tape is king in the Looks Department. Plus, you can shellac it to make it look & feel even better, and to make it last longer. Then, as the shellac gets worn away, the tape ages beautifully and gracefully until you think to yourself, "Hey, maybe it's time for another coat of shellac." Or another roll of tape, or whatever.
Cloth tape over cork works fine, too, but the bars start looking chunky. That's not so bad, though. If it looks fine to you and feels better, go the chunky route.
We have the best selection of cotton bar tape in the world.
Picking a Handlebar
When you read about each bar individually, they all sound great, so it's easy to get stuck not knowing which bar to get. Keep in mind three things:
First, handlebars are relatively inexpensive, and even if you pick a bar that isn't your bar-for-life, you'll still gain something from the experience, and won't go broke doing it.
Second, if you have more than one bike, it's sort of fun to have a different style handlebar on each. Not wildly different, perhaps, but noticeably so.
Third, every bar we offer is good and versatile, at home and appropriate for all kinds of paved-road riding, and some trails, too. So you can't make a lousy choice. However, the following notes may help you decide:
Get the Noodle if: You want a super comfy all-around road bar. Simple! This is by far our most popular drop bar, and receives more acclaim than any drop we've ever stocked-and we've stocked lots of them and only good ones. We still have the Nitto Dream Bar on-line, and that may be your choice for classical restorations. But the Noodle wins out in all-around comfort, so that's the only one we're showing in here.
Get the Moustache Handlebar if: You want the upright position and immediate access to the brakes that a flat bar provides, but want a bar that offers you multiple hand positions. The Moustache H'bar is a fine all-around shape, but get it at least level with the saddle, and a bit higher is even better.
Get the Albatross if: You want a guilty amount of comfort, but don't want to be limited to an upright position. By grabbing the forward portion of the bar, you can tackle 18-percent hills in much the same body position as you'd have with a drop bar or a Moustache H'bar. Also, if you want that upright position and the option of another hand position for more aggressive or strenuous riding, the Albatross is the only bar in the world that'll provide it. Just use it with bar-end shifters, to free-up the bar in front of the brake lever. The ONLY thing we don't recommend the Albatross for is multi-mile steep descents, or super-bumpy trail descents. For that, it's best to have a bar that braces your hand so you don't have to grip it hard to hold your place (so-the Moustache, or a drop bar).
Flat handlebars are our most unfavorites. They work in the sense that you can ride a bike with them, but they offer just one hand position, and it's a wrist-down, rather non-ergonomic one at that. You can get add-ons to provide another grip option, but most of the time that's just throwing money at a problem caused by the wrong bar in the first place. We prefer curved handlebars, and once you get a good one, you probably will, too.