Putting on new handlebar tape is a simple way to give your bike a visual lift as well as improving the grip, comfort and ride quality of your bike. It's a cheap and easy way to treat your bike to some TLC. Here's how be a wrap star.
Our guide below shows you what we believe is the best method to wrap bar tape. We've included a list of the tools and materials that you will need to complete the job and in some cases where you can buy them. If there are others that you prefer then feel free to let everybody know in the comments.
1. Clean the bar. Clean handlebar and ensure there’s no glue residue from the old tape. Tape the control cables to the bars, using the appropriate grooves if your bar has them (or internal ports). Roll back the lever hoods to expose the bar clamps and finally remove the bar-end plugs. Stick the ends of two three inch long sections of electrical tape to the stem (you’ll see why in a moment). You’re now ready to start.
2. Clamp covers. Most tape packs have two spools of tape, one per side. There is usually a couple of short sections for use in covering the clamps of the levers and a pair of branded logo tapes to finish the final end. Opinion is divided over using the clamp cover pieces, some like them, other prefer less bulk behind the lever clamp. Personally, we like using them. Trim them to exact length to and apply clamp cover section.
3. Remove tape backing. Peel off half the waxy tape leader which covers the adhesive strip on the underside of the tape. Rip off the bit you’ve peeled off. Beginning on the underside of the open end of the bar and, leaving a half inch over the end put a full turn on the bar. Remember to turn the tape from outside to inside. As you look down at the bars the tape turns should fan diagonally and backwards and outwards.
4. Overlap the wrap. As the first turn completes begin to angle the tape up the bar. Each new turn of tape should overlap about a third of the previous turn. Apply an even pull force on the tape (it’s generally made to be a bit stretchy) this will ensure an even thickness and width as the bar begins to curve. Check you’ve not left any gaps or puckers.
5. Perfect wrap. If you’re not happy with a wrap, just back off the tension and unwrap back to the last bit you’re happy with. If everything is good, you’ll get to the lower edge of the lever body. Allow a small overlap of a millimetre or two to ensure there are no gaps.
6. Taping around the shifters. Continue by wrapping a figure of eight of tape around the lever body. You’re looking to position the tape, in conjunction with the separate bar clamp cover section to completely cover the exposed handlebar. It can take a few goes to get it just right. Don’t be afraid to undo and reposition for a pro looking finish.
7. Taping the tops. Once clear of the levers, you’re wrapping around the top bend of the bar. Remember to try and make the turn with even quadrants. Too much or too little overlap and the feel of the bar will be off and it’ll look odd.
8. How far to wrap. We wrap either to the bulge of the centre section or to the graphic on a regular road drop bar. On flattened aero bars the trend is to finish on where the forward extension begins. That said we’ve seen them fully wrapped for comfort. Remember it’s your bar and you ride the bike, so wrap it so you’re happy and comfortable.
9. Tape trim. With the last wrap complete, trim the excess with a long diagonal cut to allow the end to finish flush with the end of the last complete turn. Use one of the short sections of electrical tape to secure the trimmed end neatly into the end of the final turn. Finish with the logo tape supplied with the bar tape.
10. Add the end plugs. Now go back to the end of the bar, where you began the taping, and carefully fold the overhanging ends of tape into the open end of the handlebar. Making sure none of them unfolds, use them to wedge the bar end plugs firmly into position. They should make a neat flush fit. Flip the lever hoods back into their riding position.
Repeat the whole process for the other side.