On the surface, the concept of leather tape might seem like overkill. What's wrong with plain old duct tape? But don't tell that to thousands of bike riders who have come to rely on leather to encase their handlebars.
The leather tape on handlebars is usually beveled to provide a better grip, especially in wet weather, and it can stand up to moisture for many years. Most leather handlebar tape comes with a single joint in each piece, sewn diagonally. It is offered in a variety of colors, and the surface can be embossed.
Leather tape is basically just a very thin strip of leather to which an adhesive has been applied on one side. Because it is obviously more expensive than common tape made from synthetic materials, its uses are largely limited to scenarios where durability and wear -- especially when there is exposure to the elements -- are an issue.
Several companies in India and China are the world's primary suppliers of leather strapping tape used to bind large loads. Sometimes used in conjunction with steel, this tape has the advantage of being immune to rust. It is also flexible enough to allow for some flexing of the cargo it is designed to hold fast.
Another growing use of leather tape is in tape rule holders, which are most often used by people in the construction industry who tend to work outside. Leather tape is, of course, not rigid enough to serve as the actual measuring tape, but it is used to bind larger pieces of leather into an outer tape rule holder. The same technology can also be applied to leather wallets.
Additionally, leather tape is used on saddles, and is a close cousin to leather cord, in which the leather is even thinner. In all of its uses, leather is prized for its durability, beauty and, increasingly, the fact that it is biodegradable. And in applications that would also be appropriate for traditional duct tape, it will last a lot longer -- thus, in theory, paying for itself over time.