Saturday, April 24, 2010

Newbaum's Cloth Handlebar Tape

I've been getting a little busy finally building up my 1972 Fuji Finest frame, which is shaping up as a rough/ready rider assembled from whatever I find on my shelfs.  There will be more on this bike in a future post when I'm done; for now I want to talk about taping the handlebars.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Kev scored a purple 1978 Fuji S12-S.  This had pretty crummy handlebar tape, so we ordered some purple Newbaums cloth handlebar tape from Rivendell.  I figured what the heck and ordered 4 rolls of the maroon featured in an earlier post.

Today, I finally got around to installing some of this.  Keeping with the spirit of this Finest build - nothing fancy - rather than any foo-foo diamond wrapping, I just did a straight from the old school spiral wrap starting at the bar ends and ending at the bar sleeve.

I also wanted to see how quick I could do this, as I had heard it was very easy to install.  So rather than my usual futzing around with wrapping a couple of turns, eyeballing, then maybe doing over, I just committed to a quick wrap, like in a production situation.

The one thing I did do was remove the paper backing from the tape and rerolled it before putting it on the bars.  I find doing this saves a lot of trouble when wrapping with paper backed tape.

Well, the Newbaums is pretty impressive.  It doesn't take much effort to make it lie flat, unlike Tressostar where one sometimes has to pull pretty hard on the tape.  It went very quick, maybe 10-15 minutes to wrap the bars.

So now, even cavepersons can have nicely wrapped handlebars. 

Here is the result, again, a little uneven, but I was trying to work quick.

The Newbaums tape is slightly narrower than Tressostar or Viva tape, but it is much thicker. Plus, the Newbaums is longer, so you don't end up in the all too common and sad situation where one runs out of tape before running out of handlebar.

The tap thickness is readily apparent when gripping the bars, as it feels noticeably plusher under the hand than with the other two common brands.

I'm trying to think of something bad to say about this stuff, but I'm pretty much of a loss other than to ask how come these guys didn't start selling this stuff years ago. And best of all, it isn't any more expensive than other brands.

How they achieved this producing this tape in the U.S. is a bit of a mystery - maybe I'll write and ask them.

The maroon tape is a very striking color that is well represented in the pictures above. I was tempted to leave it as is, but I wanted to run it through the whole shellac process as well as the fact that with shellac, this color will probably better match a maroon Brooks Imperial that is going on the Finest.

The first coat of shellac is drying as I write this. The thickness of the tape is very evident during application of the first coat, as it soaks up a extraordinary amount of shellac. My advice is to be pretty careful during this first coat to make sure that the tape is fully saturated, otherwise there can be unevenness in the color that is difficult to work out in later coats.

There will be more pictures of this in a day or two when I finish up the 1972 Fuji Finest.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Big question, is the cloth tape comfortable? Especially on long rides? Not familiar with it at all, obviously. Looks great by the way.