Difficulty

Easy

How to wrap handlebar tape on a drop bar bike

Ollie Bridgewood goes through all the tips and tricks to get the perfect bar tape

Clock09:00, Monday 29th January 2024
Oliver Bridgewood
Global Cycling Network
Oliver Bridgewood
GCN Tech Presenter

PhD Chemist turned cycling enthusiast, bringing the lab coat to GCN Does Science

There are several different ways of wrapping bar tape, but we think this is the best. Follow Ollie Bridgewood's steps to make your bar tape comfortable, secure and long-lasting.

We'll show you how to do this in the steps below, but the most important thing to note when wrapping your bars is the direction you wrap each side. When you put your weight on your hands in the drops, it twists the bar tape. Do it the wrong way, and the bar tape will loosen as you ride. To prevent this, on the right side, wrap it clockwise from the end of the bar, and on the left side, wrap it anti-clockwise.

To replace your bar tape, you'll need some new bar tape, some electrical tape, and something to cut the tape with. Either a box knife or pair of scissors will do.

Read more: How to change integrated handlebars

Tools Needed

Remove old bar tape and inspect your handlebars

Step 1

Remove old bar tape and inspect your handlebars

First, remove your old bar tape by unwinding it from the bars. Once it's removed, clean any bits from the old tape off the bars and inspect the bars for any damage. Make sure the cable outers and brake hoses are in good condition too. This is a good opportunity to change cable outers that are worn or frayed.

Top Tip

This is a good time to change your lever position, if would like to adjust them.

Fold back the hoods

Step 2

Fold back the hoods

Fold back the hoods of the lever so the base of the lever – the part that connects with the handlebars – is revealed.

Cut two pieces of electrical tape and stick them to the top tube

Step 3

Cut two pieces of electrical tape and stick them to the top tube

Cut two pieces of electrical tape about 30cm long and stick them to the top tube. They'll come in handy later.

Begin wrapping the right side

Step 4

Begin wrapping the right side

Start wrapping the right-hand side by placing the tape so it is half on the end of the bar, and half hanging off. Hold the tape taught, stretching it slightly, and wrap it clockwise around the bar.

Step 5A

If you are using a bar end plug, insert it

If you are using a normal bar end plug, you can secure the end by pushing the plug in, forcing the excess tape into the bar.

If you have a Di2 junction box, mark the tape and trim it diagonally

Step 5B

If you have a Di2 junction box, mark the tape and trim it diagonally

If your bar end is a Di2 junction box, score the excess wrapped tape with a box cutter knife, then unwind the tape. Cut it along the scored line, then rewrap so the bar end sits flush to the Di2 junction box.

Wrap the bar consistently, right up to the shifter

Step 6

Wrap the bar consistently, right up to the shifter

Wrap the bar consistently, applying constant tension to the tape and keeping the amount of overlap between each piece as uniform as possible.

Top Tip

If you do find you've left a gap or an uneven section, simply unwrap the tape and do it again.

Navigating the shifters

Step 7A

Navigating the shifters

Typically, people do a 'figure of eight' to wrap the shifters, but with modern, thick bar tape, that can be too bulky. We prefer this method, which uses less tape, is less bulky, and leaves your bar tape rotated in the correct direction to wrap the tops securely.

Wrap once more below the shifter

Step 7B

Wrap once more below the shifter

Close the gap between the tape and the shifter with one more wrap. Use this wrap to cover as much of the exposed handlebar near the shifter clamp as you can.

Insert the covering piece, if you prefer

Step 7C

Insert the covering piece, if you prefer

Our shifter wrapping method can leave a small gap. It's fine to leave it, but some find it unsightly. If you'd rather not have a gap, use the two small pieces of bar tape that came with the rolls to cover the bar around the shifter clamp. Trim it to size and wrap over the top of it to hold it in place.

Wrap over the top of the shifter

Step 7D

Wrap over the top of the shifter

From the inside of the handlebars, pull the tape up and over the shifter, then wrap it around the bars. Try and pull it as far down as you can, to close the gap and cover the exposed handlebar near the shifter clamp.

Continue wrapping in this direction

Step 7E

Continue wrapping in this direction

Now, simply keep wrapping in this same direction; no need for any more loops around the shifter. Wrap consistently until you've covered the tops.

To finish off the tape, wrap past the point and mark the tape

Step 8

To finish off the tape, wrap past the point, then mark and cut the tape

Once you're happy with how your tape looks, you can finish it off. Wrap past the point you'd like it to end and mark the tape so you can then cut it diagonally. This will allow you to get a clean, consistent end to the wrap.

Top Tip

Finish the bar tape underneath the bar so the end is neat and out of sight.

Secure the bar tape with electrical tape

Step 9

Secure the bar tape with electrical tape

Secure the tape in place with electrical tape. Wrap it around the bar tape carefully, keeping the tape tight without stretching or deforming it. A couple of revolutions around the bar will be plenty. For a super tidy finish, trim the tape so it finishes on the underside of the bars.

Top Tip

To make the electrical tape extra secure, heat up a pick or thin screwdriver and 'weld' the end of the tape down.

Repeat for the left, this time starting anti-clockwise

Step 10

Repeat for the left, this time starting anti-clockwise

The process is mirrored for the left. Start by wrapping the bars anti-clockwise. When you get to the shifter, make sure that when you do step 7d, when you go 'up and over' the shifter, it is on the inside of the bars. That way, when you carry on to the tops, the bar tape will be wrapped the same way for both the left and right.

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