I’ve been on the fence about leather handlebar tape. It’s expensive, and the leather-wrapped handlebars of the 1980s were slippery when wet. However, my friend Hahn has used Brooks leather bar tape and found that he liked it. (Except the wooden bar-end plugs, which came apart the first time they got wet.)
When Grand Bois introduced their leather handlebar tape, I gave a set to Hahn to test, so we could decide whether Compass Bicycles should carry it. His report was very positive. He liked that the tape is seamless, unlike the “other” leather handlebar tape, which is sewn from several pieces and can rip at the seams when you stretch it to wrap the bars. The Grand Bois tape has proved very durable, and it has acquired a nice patina with age. (If you prefer your tape totally colorfast, this tape is not for you.)
Hahn also like the bar-end plugs, which are machined from aluminum and tighten with a small Allen wrench. The photos show his Grand Bois tape after more than a year of randonneuring, showing that the tape lasts well. On a per-mile basis, this tape appears to cost about the same as cork tape: more expensive initially, but it also lasts much longer.
Grand Bois handlebar tape is now available in black (as on Hahn’s bike) and honey (above). More information is here.