How to Replace Bar Tape

by Pedal Wrencher

Posted: 2016-03-23 at 23:05

Luckily, no, it’s not magic, and yes it is possible. You just need a bit of patience and some accurate instructions about proper technique for installing bar tape. And, at Pedal Wrencher, we won’t just text you to tell you when you need to change your bar tape based on your mileage on Strava – we’ll show you how, too. So let’s get started…

Get All the Old Tape and Gunk Off First

First of all, before you get started, you’re going to want to get all of the old tape and any residual gunk off of your bar. If you have a newer bike with decent cork or synthetic tape, you won’t have to worry too much about it leaving behind a lot of glue and fabric. If you’re dealing with older fabric tape that seems to be super-glued to your bars, you may want to use some solvent. Get your bars clean and flip your brake hoods up out of the way, and then you can get started with installation.

For installation, you won’t need any tools, but you will need a pair of scissors, and we recommend using some electrical tape, as the adhesive tape that comes with most bar tape isn’t very strong and won’t always keep your bar tape in place.

Start at the End of Your Bar

Start with one roll of bar tape. Cut a small piece of electrical tape (about an inch long), and place it on the end of your bar tape, facing down. Now affix this end of your bar tape to the end of your handlebar so that half its width is lined up with the bar and so that the length of the tape is facing in toward the bike. The graphic above shows you the proper direction to wrap your bars and where to start.

As you line it up, start by placing the bar tape perpendicular to the end of your bar and then angle it just slightly toward the front of the bike. Now, start wrapping so that the tape overlaps itself by about a third of its width each time you go around the bar.

Navigating the Brake Levers

Now, most bar tape will come with two shorter strips of tape to go under the brake levers to avoid showing off any exposed metal. You can place these over the clamps that hold the brake levers on, tuck them under your brake hoods (which should still be flipped up), and cut them to length if needed.

Then, once you’ve wrapped your bar tape as high up the bar as you can, keeping tension on it without stretching it, you’ll make another wrap around the bar, crossing the bar behind the brake lever. Then, instead of continuing up the bar, make an “X” by crossing back under the lever again. Then continue wrapping until you’ve covered as much of the top of the bar as you need.

At the end, cut the edge of the tape that faces toward the inside of the bike at an angle so that you have a clean, straight line at the finish. Then use your electrical tape or the adhesive tape provided with your bar tape to hold your bar tape in place.

Install Your Bar End Plugs

Finally, go back to the ends of your bar. Fold the excess material of your bar tape inside the bar, and press your bar end plug (which comes with your bar tape) into place securely. Now all you have to do is repeat the process on the other side of your bar, and you’ll be ready to go. Now you know how to change bar tape on your bike!

Pedal Wrencher

The strava-powered check engine light for your bike