Wrapping your own bar tape is one of the most satisfying jobs there is, and luckily it really isn’t that hard. With the help of Kirsty Stevens, a mechanic with 15 years’ experience, here’s the easy way to wrap your own bar tape.
If your bars are starting to look like this, it’s definitely time for some new tape.
First things first, some basic rules:
- If it’s your first time changing bar tape, it’s a good idea to practice with your old tape.
- If you can, buy a thick cork tape, as this type of tape has much more stretch, which makes it far easier to wrap.
- Always keep your scissors and electrical tape close by.
- Roll back the rubber covers on the hoods to completely expose the tape.
After you’ve unwrapped your bars, start by cutting a 5cm piece from the end of the tape. This is going to sit on the underside of your hoods, saving you from having to do a complex wrap around them.
Start the process at the bottom of the drops. In the first wrap, leave about 1cm of tape hanging off the edge of the bars; this will keep your plugs securely in the bars. Do one complete rotation of the tape around the bar before moving upwards. When you start wrapping the tape around the bars, wrap outwards. Some mechanics will tell you that you need to wrap the left base anti-clockwise, and the right base clockwise, and then reverse the direction of the tape on the top of the bars, but as the US Navy tells us, keep it simple, stupid.
Begin to work your way up the bars, keeping a consistent force on the tape, overlapping each previous rotation by about half the thickness of the tape. If you notice that some areas of the bar tape aren’t lying flush on the bars, it means you need to pull harder on the tape.
Once you reach the hoods, with the previously cut piece in place behind the hoods, wrap around the base of the hoods, then around the back again and over the top – imagine a figure 8. Try to get the tape as close to the plastic of the hoods as possible. Then continue wrapping along the handlebars as before, being sure to keep consistent tension on the tape. Roll the hood covers back and see if there is any bar visible; if there is, you’ll have to unwrap it and try again.
Once you reach either the end of the roll, or about 5cm from the stem, cut the tape diagonally (see picture below), so when you continue to wrap, it will maintain a straight line to give a clean finish. The final wrap will sit on the top of the previous layer.
Grab your electrical tape and wind it around the final wrap to secure the tape. To finish, grab your bar plugs and as you force them back into the bars, use them to bury the overhanging tape into the bars as well.