Re-taping handlebars is one of those jobs that most cyclists have done many times. However, there has to be those out there doing it for the first time, and handlebar tape for some strange reason, is usually sold in a packet with no instructions what so ever.
It is as if a cyclist is supposed to be born with some divine instinct on how to apply new tape to handlebars. So for the uninitiated here is a pictorial step by step of how I do it.
On opening the package there is sometimes a short piece of tape with an adhesive strip on the back.
The very first thing you do is roll back the rubber hood on the brake lever and stick this short piece if tape on the back of the handlebars, over the clip holding your brake lever in place. (Above.)
If there is no such piece in the package, you will need to cut a piece about 3 inches long (8 cm.) and attach it with some double-stick Scotch Tape. You could use regular Scotch Tape or even masking tape on the outside as a temporary measure to hold it in place.
Without this short piece of tape in place to start with, you will have an ugly gap in the tape as you go around the brake lever.
Start taping from the bottom end of the handlebars. If the tape is the non-sticky type, I use double stick tape to hold the tape in place while I pull it tightly around the bars. Again, you could use regular Scotch or masking tape, as this would be hidden after the first turn of the tape.
Some people put the end of the tape inside the bars and push the end plug in to hold it in place. I find this doesn’t work so well with the thick padded tape I am using.
It doesn’t matter which direction you wind the tape, however, in the interest of looking uniform you should go clockwise one side and counter-clockwise the other.
Stretch the tape tightly as you go. You will notice I have about two-thirds of the tape showing and one third overlapping. Be careful that you don’t leave gaps as you go around the bend.
On the last turn under the brake lever, the tape should fit snugly in the corner. If it doesn’t, unwind a few turns and rewind so you achieve this. With thin tape you can go around an extra turn, but if you do this with the thick padded tape, you will have an unsightly bulge.
Bring the tape up and over the brake lever.
Again, making sure it fits snugly in the top corner.
Bring the tape down, then up again and continue taping above the brake lever.
When you reach the center ferrule, check back to make sure there are no gaps anywhere before you cut the tape to length. Cut the tape so the end is on the underside of the bars. Once again, I have used a piece of double-stick tape as a temporary measure to hold it in place.
Roll the rubber brake lever hood back in place and the finished job should look something like this.
Finally I finished of with some black electricians tape. Some consider this slightly “tacky,” but it does stretch well and can be made to look neat. Also, it comes in many colors so it doesn’t have to be black.
For me this is a temporary measure anyway, as I plan to cord whip later. I wrote about cord whipping in a previous article here.
Also in previous articles are the answers to the unrelated questions that will most likely come up.
Why is my front brake lever on the right? And why do I have wooden beads on my front brake cable?
Feel free to comment with your own little tips on taping handlebars.