Gravel Specific Bar Tape? Testing PNW Coast Bar Tape in Vancouver

The Coast bar tape looks great and is easy to clean.

Since PNW Components started branching out into the world of gravel cycling, they’ve released a suspension dropper post, a handlebar and stem, and most recently completed the cockpit trifecta with their own line of handlebar tape. The PNW brand is known for doing their best to bring customers awesome, functional products that don’t break the bank, and their Coast bar tape is no exception.

Coast is PNW’s gravel collection, and their bar tape is the latest addition to this. We’re a big fan of the way they’ve chosen to break the mold with the other parts of the Coast collection and make things a little more mountain bike. Things like super wide handlebars and short stems, dropper posts and suspension are all innovations from the mountain bike world that make sense on a certain type of drop-bar bike. The type that’s more fun to do silly things on.

The Coast bar tape is designed to be a gravel-specific bar tape then, but what does that mean? Well, for the most part, bar tape is bar tape, but PNW has done a good job of making it fit well with the rest of the range. First off it’s a little thicker than some more traditional bar tapes at 2.4mm thick, aiding cushioning for those bone-shaking descents. The finish texture is nice and sticky and it should have good levels of grip out on the trail.

The tape is patterned with PNW’s signature graphics and it looks smart and fits well if you have their bars and stem too. While we’re talking about aesthetics, the Coast tape is available in seven different colors; seafoam teal is shown here. I’m a big fan of the teal color but for those with better tastes that me, it’s also available in black. A nice touch that I really like are the anodized aluminum expanding bar end plugs; they’re easy to fit, stay put well, and should last a long time.

When it comes to wrapping the tape, it’s not super stretchy so it’s a little tricky to wrap without getting folds in the tape. I found it takes a little perseverance to get a good wrap. Once on though it looks great, and it comes with finishing tape that goes on nicely and stays on. That said, it’s a little shorter than I’d like it to be. I’m running the narrower of the two Coast handlebars and while I didn’t have to wrap it super thin to get it to the middle of the bar, it would have been nice to have the option to go thicker. It would likely be a struggle to wrap the wider 52cm bar so a little extra length in the tape would help.

The finishing tape is nice and actually stays put

I’ve been using this tape the last few weeks in crappy Vancouver weather on my commuter/gravel bike in the rain, shine, and everything in between and the tape is really grippy, even on the wettest days. It’s held up pretty well so far. It picked up a little discoloration near the hoods but it cleaned right off with a little rubbing alcohol. The Coast Bar Tape is a little comfier than I expected, however, a little extra thickness might be nice to give more padding on those rough gravel roads.

Everything I’ve received from PNW Components has contained minimal to no plastic packaging. Not only that, but they have a dropper post refurbishing program called PNW Cycled where you can buy a refurbished dropper at a lower price, and they also have a carbon offset program. Things like this certainly help the conscience when making a purchase decision.

Minimal plastic packaging to be found here.

Overall the Coast Bar Tape is a welcome addition to the Coast collection but it could use a couple of refinements to really nail the ‘gravel’ thing, namely a little extra length and width. That said, for the bargain price of $29USD it makes a lot of sense for anyone just looking for fresh bar tape for their road bike or with a drop bar narrower than 48cm, which let’s face it is most people.

  • Price: $29
  • Available from PNW.

Party laps

  • Sticky grip
  • Great price
  • Sweet color selection

Pros and cons of the PNW Coast Bar Tape

Dirt naps

  • Not long enough for wider bars

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