I recently went on a ride which partly involved a light rain and after that I noticed that among other things there were a lot of mud colored spots on my bar tape. I presumed it was grit and mud stuck onto the tape (it looks almost painted on though, very little if any 3d shape to them), and tried to pry them out with a needed, but it felt like all i did was tear a bit of foam. Does anyone know what this is? Would this come off with some soap?enter image description here

I cant be 100% sure it wasnt there before, but the bar tape was recently replaced by the prev owner.

  • Looks like dirt, some kind of fine dust? Doesn't seem to be anything that would come from the bike. Is it a dusty road ?
    – Criggie
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:19
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    Unrelated - whoever wrapped those bars started in the middle, which is incorrect. Bartape wrapping should start at the ends and work toward the middle. As your stand, pressure from the hands will slowly separate the wraps. When wrapped the proper way, the hand pressure does not push apart the wraps.
    – Criggie
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:21
  • @Criggie do you gather that based on the tops not having any kind of tape and the "beginning" being under the tape? I always wondered why it looks that way but never inferred that, thanks for pointing it out. The prev owner mentioned it was done by an LBS, for what that is worth.
    – Karthik T
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:26
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    Washing with soap won't do any damage so why not just try it? Worst case is that you end up with clean bar tape except for the little brown spots. Jul 11, 2018 at 11:30
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    @DavidRicherby - Except that you should never wash a bike! Jul 11, 2018 at 11:53

1 Answer 1


It's almost certainly cork that is used in the bar tape for its vibration damping and sweat absorbing properties.

It's clearly visible in this promotional image for Cinelli tape: enter image description here

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    Wow you are right, now I see it everywhere.. Thanks for putting my itchy mind at ease
    – Karthik T
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:28
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    Step 1: sell tape to customers that looks really dirty, hoping they don't notice. Step 2: bring the dirt to the attention of customers. Step 3: offer a cleaning solution. Step 4: profit. :) Jul 11, 2018 at 13:59
  • @IanMacDonald If you really wanted to make some money, you would lightly dye the tape before sale, and you'd sell a cleaning solution with the dye in it.
    – Dent7777
    Jul 11, 2018 at 18:25

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