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How to Wrap Handlebars for Road Bikes


Calvin Jones here, Park Tool Company. In this video, we’re going to walk to the procedures of wrapping the drop style handlebars. There are many types of handlebar tapes available.
They all vary in strength. Before you begin wrapping, if you’re unfamiliar with the brand,
grab the end of the tape and pull to get a sense of the strength
so you don’t break it while wrapping. For the wrapping here, we’ll use the
synthetic cork tape without adhesive. Wrapping handlebars is a good time
to consider if you want to change your lever height or if you have used housing
and cables, replace it now. Prepare the work area by
getting everything close at hand. We have our scissors, a mallet to secure
the end plug, our handlebar tape, finishing pieces for behind the hoods, end plugs, finishing tape for the end, we have a sharp knife and a little bit of strapping tape to hold down the housing. We want the housing held secure to the bar so it doesn’t move around while we’re wrapping. Use the last piece to end
where we want the tape to end. On this bar that has a smooth transition, there’s no clear place to end. If you end way at the manufacturer’s logo, we really don’t have enough tape – you may want to ride up here. We’re gonna come about here –
just about where the transition begins. so after doing one end, we can use a simple measuring technique to come over here and we can duplicate both sides ending the same. This holds our housing down – it also
tells us where we’re going to stop. Also, pull back on the hoods now
so they’re ready when we get there. Take the time now to cut about 8 to 10 inches of
your finishing tape so they’re ready when we’re done. Find part of the bike such as the top tube that they can
hang on yet be close at hand when we want them. We want to start taping at the bottom
and come up to the top. we don’t want to start at the top
and work down. Starting at the top, such as on this handlebar, is going to leave this edge exposed to the load on the hand. It’s going to come unwrapped. It will pull back
and eventually wear itself out and expose the bar from just riding on the top. We’re going to start at the bottom
and go to the top to avoid that. The direction of wrap is also important. We want the direction of handlebar wrap to match the
direction of load as the hands rotate on the bars. Under load and stress, it’s common for
riders on the drops to rotate their wrists outward. Consequently, we want to match the left side with a counter-clockwise wrap from the rider’s point of view. On the right side, we want a clockwise wrap from the rider’s point of view but on top this reverses. On top when we’re riding, especially up the hill, people tend to twist their wrist back. So we want this to be the direction of wrap
and this to be the direction of wrap. It’s going to be the opposite of the
direction on the drops. The style of tape has no adhesion – so this one one relies on tension as we wrap. We begin at the bottom, and again here
we’re going to go in a clockwise direction. We start at the bottom and hold tight –
we come around, overlap maintaining tension we want to stop and install our plug. install fully and then proceed to wrap the bars. If you have the adhesive-type tape,
peel back a few inches to expose the adhesive. Remember the direction here –
we want this to go clockwise on the right side. We’re going to start at the bottom with the adhesive just on the bar hold it tight and pull it snug as you wrap around
and advance up the bar. Stop just 1 or 2 revolutions past – we’re going to
tuck in this tape and put the plug in now in case there’s a problem – we’ll know it. Plug goes inside – make sure it’s fully secure. If it needs a little extra help, use a mallet. Overlap and advance up the bar, but make sure that the adhesive is not laying on the tape you just put down but is on the unfinished clean handlebar,
advancing as you go. We always pull with tension, never relaxing,
overlapping approximately halfway as we go keeping our marks symmetrical. Once you get to the curve, we still maintain tension
and inspect both sides as you go. Back up before you proceed and make a mistake We don’t want to get all the way up to the bar and find out we have a gap way down below. We’ve continued the wrap, and now we’ve reached the lever body. There are a few different techniques to get us past this: The simplest way is simply to wrap close to the lever body, continue past it and go on your way. This is going to leave a slight gap showing once the rubber hoods roll back – we are going to have a slight gap. That bothers some people, so we can place an extra piece of tape underneath, and that’s going to cover that up. This technique is also not so good because it
does not reverse the direction of wrap and it puts the tape in a less advantageous direction on the tops. Another technique is called the “Figure 8”. If I back up the tape – notice I’m still maintaining tension there – we can peel the little adhesive off our covering tape, tape goes along the backside of the body here, we want to place it and double check that we’re not covering any lugs. This rubber hood has a small lug in it – it’s going to engage in the body we may end up covering that pocket, so here we’re going to trim a little bit So, the figure 8 goes around, and behind, and over, and then it repeats, and finally we’re back here. I don’t like this technique so much – it creates a very bulbous shape. A lot of the padded tapes end up being very bulky here. This is a technique from older days
when the tape was very thin. You could do a Figure 8 and have this much thinner. But with the padded tapes, it ends up being quite large here, so we’re going to not do that technique. What we are going to do is hold the covering piece in place, one more time to cover that, Instead we’re going to come up over and then continue, not do the Figure 8. Now, if we notice here, the tape is now in a good rotation for that stressful kind of load. Before you continue on, roll the hood back and inspect and see if there are any gaps or any issues that we missed. We can correct them now,
and then we can continue on our way. We’re approaching the end of where we decided our wrap should stop We’re not going to go around and around here,
which can leave a lump we’re actually going to maintain the same wrap angle we always have, and go past that mark. We’re going to use a sharp knife to mark along
the line where our tape should end. So we pass that line, we use the knife to make a mark. We’re only marking the tape here. Don’t go so hard you score the handlebars especially not good if it’s a carbon fiber bar. We now have a mark we can see in the tape.
We’re going to match that angle with our scissors. We’re going to continue consistently and it will match the end. This one goes past, so we’re going to trim so it finishes at the bottom. That’s what we want to see. We now take a piece of our finishing tape,
wrapping starting at the bottom. We’re going to go in the same direction, we’re going to pull snug and lay that down as we come around. Two times at least. Keeping it flat and tidy. We’d like to end, if possible, under. We start at the bottom and end at the bottom. That is a wrap on the wrap, now let’s look at some additional techniques. If the handlebar end plug is the type that secures in with a bolt, it can be installed first. We don’t want to just start our tape square,
it’s going to end up with a lump on the bottom. We can actually start with our angle of our wrap,
much like we did at the top. We are going to finish and cut this crease right here
– it is marking the angle that I want to trim. I’m coming across this angle with the scissors,
and that’s going to give us our starting angle. It’s going to make a much cleaner start. Again, always at the bottom. I come around here – and now I advance. Here, a much cleaner finish. A technique that’s useful, especially for the competitive cyclist, where crashing can happen: The crashing occurs, it’s typically this side of the bar that gets ripped. so what you can do is take some plain old electrician’s tape, PVC tape and here I’m actually starting it backwards, or inside-out. This is the sticky side,
the non-sticky side is against the bar. So, I’m pulling snug and overlapping as I go What we’re going to do is provide a sticky surface that’s going to hold the tape from the inside. If there is a bad rip, there is a crash, the bar tape’s not going to come completely unraveled. This is going to act, effectively, like flypaper. You don’t need the whole bar covered, just this lower section. Again, what we’re saying is if there were to be a crash, the tape is sticking to it, it’s not going to completely come undone.
It’s a bit of a safety precaution should that get ripped. White tape can be especially tricky. Be sure and keep it clean as you can, sometimes wearing gloves. Here, we’ve wrapped it and then we’ve also made our final cut where we like it. We don’t want to put the trim tape on just yet, because we’re going to have a little edge of whiteness there. We’re going to back that off, take a permanent marker and run across the inside edge We’re going to have a black edge that now shows and no one will know that that’s actually just the edge of the tape. We start with our finish tape on the bottom We come around pulling it snug, making a second pass, and on that inside edge, all we see is our marker. It looks clean and consistent. Although we’ve placed the seam of our finishing tape right on the bottom, with time and use these can come loose. So we’re going to take a spoke and a lighter we’re going to tack weld, just a small tack weld to help seal that. So, we’re going to heat up the spoke… come in here once, twice is all we need to seal that shut, cauterize that finish tape, and we’re done A good way to finish our ending tape is to take a contrasting color of electrician’s tape and make some pinstriping. What we want to do is use a sharp edge – we’re going to use a knife held firmly to the work table we’ll take our tape, place it down
and hold it firmly and then rotate it. We’re going to push with some force into that blade
and rotate this around. Again, firmly and evenly:
don’t pick up on the knife, don’t pick up on the tape. That’s going to leave a nice mark, and that’s going to be the edge of our pinstriping. We peel back a section – that should probably do us Put the pinstriping right on the edge, starting and stopping again at the bottom, and a nice highlight. And that was a walkthrough of wrapping the drop-style handlebars. Thank you.

Bernard Jenkins

100 Comments

  1. What is the best grip tape for both wet and dry conditions? Wet could be sweat and rain.

  2. Great job, professional, except for the use of electrical tape. Eventually electrical tape will get hot and nasty, also it makes a mess. Not my preference.

  3. I can't believe I watched a 15 minute video on bar wrapping and was memorized the whole time. Great video, great teacher, and great production and filming. You guys rock.

  4. You are a good & honest teacher. I can say I know now, how to use my new handlebar tape like a pro . Thank you very much. Full ******** Stars.

  5. I have been wrapping bar tape for years and finally know how to do the job properly, you don't just make the best tools but also the best videos!

  6. 16 years wrapping top to bottom and ive never had tape unravel because of the "direction of the load" or whatever he said.

  7. Just get a good handlebar tape,i wrap my handlebars, for more than 35years,and i prefer very strechy bar tape,you can wrap the way you want and they always look great.lyzardskin or bbb grip tape or similiar tapes are great.

  8. this is the greatest bike repair man ever, years of knowledge condensed into a 10 min video, he really deserves some YouTube lifetime achievement award

  9. Thank you for all of your videos. I took a bike (Cannondale R500 2.8 Aluminum) that had significant sentimental value to me to a local bike shop, they told me they couldn’t fix it, and wanted me to buy a new bike. With your videos, I was able to do a complete disassembly and put it back together with new parts. It works great now, and I am happy. Thank you.

  10. Thank you for this lesson! I had to do it for the first time and following your steps helped me do a pretty good job.

  11. I'm beginner cycling, so I decided to start with a fixie!? Any advice!?

  12. I'm done I was doing everything exactly as the tutorial, then my Band just snapped …. well darn what to do now … I just continued warping and put some tape over the snapped location. Looks like shit but guess don't stretch the tape TOO much is also a good tip.

  13. is a spacer tower above the stem good or not? ive read that some bike manufactures forbid that .maybe you can make a video for stemping etc.

  14. This is actually the lesson proper of how to put bar tape efficiently and properly. This video is very good, explained the mechanics by detailed and reasons behind it.

  15. If you're scared about wrapping your bars, just don't take the paper off the adhesive backing on your bar tape. Pressure from the bar plug and electrical tape/brand tape it comes with at the top will be enough to hold it there. And you can wrap and unwrap as much as you want, without having your bar tape getting all screwed up from doing and undoing, if it's not neat enough for you. The adhesive on bar tape really isn't needed.

  16. “Calvin Johnes here, Park Tool company.” => upvoted.👍🏽

  17. Im watching this video for like the 5th time in the last year. Not because i need the help, but because this is a really well made video and Calvins voice and explanation of things is wonderful

  18. Thanks for still showing the other methods around the shifter even though you don't like em as much. I figured the figure of 8 is indeed bulkier but it works much better on my handlebar/shifter combination.

  19. Watching this guy is like watching an artist painting a beautiful piece of artwork.

  20. Bullshit…….. I've been riding and building bikes for OVER 30 years and have ALWAYS wrapped my bars from the top down and have NEVER had ANY problems. Wrapping from the top down takes more skill and talent…. you have to pre-stretch the wrap and know how to handle the material. Wrapping from the top down yields a better wrap but takes more skill.

  21. I had never done this before, and it turned out great. Very good video. I'm still trying to figure out why 455 people gave it a "thumbs down". LOL.

  22. I was pretty much affraid of non-adhesive tapes before buying it. With this video I'm now confident enough of handling it well.

    Also, the direction of wrapping the tape is something I have come across quite new to me & realized it is the real key in this technique.

    Thanks for making this video.
    I conclude that the direction of wrapping is the real key which you taught in this video.

    Thanks much.

  23. Now i can finally change out that Frankenstein tape-job that was done by the previous owner of my bike.
    He had some black wrap as a base layer but then he went berserk and covered everything in black electrical tape.
    Just terrible grip feeling!. (what she said)..
    Also found remnants of sand mixed in with it all and i spend probably 30 -45 minutes to tear it all off.

  24. What a legend! The best bicycle service tutorial I've ever seen.

  25. This was extremely useful and a well executed demo. This was clear what needed to happen and why. I also liked that several techniques were shown. I had never thought there was different ways to do it. Thank you so much!

  26. Does anyone know what blue bar tape is being used in the video? I'd like to get some.

  27. Thanks for the tip at 12:17! I really needed it as my wrapping constantly tends to move under load despite being wrapped correctly. Using this technique I'm finally able to ride my bicycle without this issue.

  28. This was actually a really informative and enjoyable video for me. I and my friend are also documenting our trip from Toronto to Miami in a bid to save the planet! If you have some time you should definitely check out my channel, and subscribe! And make sure to leave a comment so I know you enjoyed it! 🙂

  29. Did the same thing with tape but after few months tape always moves and reveals the handlebar, specially during summer and intensive rides. Sewing leather grips I find as much better solution for problems related to handlebar grips/tapes.

  30. With as much padding as you want and a 2 dollar roll of grip tape

  31. One thing you didn't address, Calvin, is with the preferred [final] method of wrapping around the lever body and reversing the direction is that the notch the little 'lug' on the inside of the hood is supposed to sit in is now completely covered with tape. I have a possible fix – after wrapping, coat just the outer edge of the lug with the black pen, then quickly fold the hood back into position, then fold it away again. Now the ink will have transferred to the tape and you can cut a small notch in the tape for the lug to grab onto.

  32. In the words of Jack Black, "That was totally brill". Thank you so much for this excellent video!

  33. great video,i watched and i tried,and looks perfect now..saved $$and lots of time!!thanks

  34. This is how you teach some shit. Slow enough so those at home can follow in real time. Not that gcb 3 minute "this is so easy yadda yadda done bs". This man could teach me anything. Thank you. Subscribed.

  35. I've been wrapping handlebars for about 5 years now but I learned so much from this video!!!! Thanks!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to do the tack technique!!

  36. 진짜 깔끔한 군더더기 없는 설명이였습니다.
    숙련된 고수분들의 노하우까지 제대로 꾹꾹 눌러 담겨있는 영상 이였습니다

  37. Thank you for the Ah Ha moment. I’ve been wrapping the tape the wrong direction for years causing premature replacement.

  38. Great video. Loved the tack welding tip. I do find that sometimes the tape can start to peel back underneath so I've always just put another layer on.

  39. I like to much this vid! I'm going to install the tape on the handlebars. This video is very useful.

  40. This video great! My bar tape feels like I just picked it up from my local bike shop.

  41. This is the most detailed, helpful, high quality and professional video about bike I've ever seen.

  42. Thanks for that, will be adding that link on my blog for bar tape… Nice one.

  43. You start at the top, then end at the bottom securing with the plug, no electrical tape needed. Taping down the top to hold it is hack. The "pinstripe" is ridiculous.

  44. You don't twist your wrists on the bars, you grip and pull. So this idea of starting at the top is nonsense and looks stupid. Notice he creates below the hoods the same "tape edge toward the rider" that he warned was a bad idea on the top, and you will use more force on the lowers, so his thinking is inconsistent.

  45. I just rewrapped my bars on my Domane SL 5 and it actually looks fairly good. Thanks park tool.

  46. I have a TREK 520 with bar end shifters. Is it possible to tuck the tape under the shifer housing as you would with a plug type end or should I use reversed electrical tape to hold the inital wrap? This will be the 1st attempt a wrapping my bars or messing with the shifters.

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