How to wrap bar tape, and 5 cool designs

Winter riding: shivers and wet weather gear and ‘how to keep your bike in good condition’ – sometimes it all gets a bit drab and shiny new bar tape is a fantastic way to bring some brightness to your riding.

It’s super easy to replace your bar tape – here’s how, and a few suggestions for you to try out:

Remove the old stuff

This is simple – remove the tape that holds your bar tape down, either side of the stem, and unwrap the tape. Unless your tape is black, you’ll be stunned at the differance in colour between the stuff that’s been exposed, and the brilliant brightness underneath. Your new tape will be all brilliant brightness!

Once you get to the end, you’ll find you need to remove the ‘plugs’ to pull the tape out. Sometimes these need an allen key, but mostly they can just be pulled out.

Pull the rubber brake hood covers up, rolling them towards the levers – as you’ll need to wrap around them.

Insert a tiny bit of bar tape into the handlabar and begin to wrap

You’re going to start your wrapping from the bottom of the bar – where you just removed the plug – working towards the stem. Push about an inch of the tape into the end of the handlebar, then you can begin to roll the tape around towards the outside of the bar (clockwise).

As you do this, pull slightly on the tape at each wrap, making sure it’s tight and secure (no one likes gaps or bumps).

Work around the brakes

When you get to the brakes, you should have the brake covers rolled up, so that you can wrap around them. Often, the tape comes supplied with two extra strips. Place these underneath the brake lever, and then wrap the tape around them – looping under the lever, and over the top of the brake on the other side. Never wrap around the levers more than once, and try to keep bulk at an absolute minimum.

With the tape around the brakes, you can work towards the stem. Once you’re a couple of inches past the brakes, roll the hoods down so you can check everything is smooth (you don’t want to find out it isn’t once you’ve finished everything off and cut the excess tape).

The finishing touches

You can wrap as close or far away from the stem as you like – I’d usually leave 1-2 inches. Once you’ve decided where to stop, cut the tape at an angle, so that it finishes nicely, with the cut end beneath the bar. Peel the back of the sticky tape provided, and secure the end by wrapping this around – ideally twice for extra security.

Your new tape should come with bar ends, so push these into the holes at the bottom, making sure they hold the section you inserted previously. Try to push these in quite tightly, as they can fall out if you don’t (not a good look – and a tad dangerous if you plan to crash).

Now – do it all over again on the other side.

There are loads of great options out there to keep your bike looking swish – here are some of our favorites:

Supacaz Super Sticky Kush Bar Tape

Supacaz Super Sticky Kush Bar Tape

Supacaz claim this tape lasts 5 x longer than traditional designs – and it’s got shockproof Silicone Gel and an Anti-Slip finish which ensures you can trust it, even on a long wet ride.

There are tons of colours available, but we love this Red/Yellow/Green Rastafair inspired stuff  – guaranteed to keep you chilled and smiling*.

* In most cases, on most days

Cinelli Cork World Champion Bar Tape

At around £13, this stuff is great value, and will surely make you feel like you’re top of the ‘Commuting to Work World Podium’.

Made from good old fashioned cork, this stuff will dampen road vibrations and comes with some kick ass bar end plugs…


Cinelli Mike Giant Bar Tape

Available in red and black, or black and white, this stuff will keep you amused for hours. Also retailing at around £13-£15, this Cinelli variation uses cork to dampen road vibration, and you can add extra padding beneath if you need more.


Fizik Superlight Glossy Fluoro Tape

You’ll stand out with this! The Fi’z:k Flouro tape is mega bright, and every colour comes with a matching finishing kit (bar end plugs and adhesive tape). Known for making super high performance, Microtex tape that is grippy, resilient and favoured by road racers, Fi’z:k tape is guaranteed to offer non-slip satisfaction, and this stuff is wipe clean, so you can keep it looking swanky.


Brookes Leather Handlebar Tape

I recently heard an incredibly sad story about a teenage kid who saved up his pocket money, to reach the £45 needed to buy this tape, which would match his saddle. Triumphently, he purchased the tape, only to return to his bike and find the saddle stolen (FYI – here’s how not to get your saddle stolen).

It probably wasn’t the kids best day ever – but on the plus side, he did get some amazing bar tape. This stuff isn’t cheap, but it is incredibly plush, soft to the touch, and it will last quite possibly as long as the bike. Available in red, green, blue, and of course the traditional tan – this will certainly have you grinning even on a rainy day.


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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

6 Responses to How to wrap bar tape, and 5 cool designs

  1. Mick Maciver 11/12/2014 at 6:16 pm #

    It seems a shame to spend all that time getting the windings even and symmetrical and a good look round the levers only to finish off with a piece of tacky electrical tape. If you start at the stem end and and finish at the open end then you don’t need to finish off with crap insulating tape – although it’s a bit harder to finish it this way and the bar tape edges are the wrong way (facing you instead of away) and some tapes can roll up with wear.

    Unless you’ve got those new-fangled brakes with gears and the cables under the tape, take the brakes off completely to get the best finish. When you’ve removed the old tape use a stanley knife to score the position of the bands that hold the brakes on. Take the brakes off, then put just the bands back on securing them with the screws after lining them up with the score marks. Then wrap the bars and put the brakes on afterwards.

    If you want the best finish then start at the open end as described in this article and finish by whipping with twine and then painting with shellac. It looks much better than the the supplied tacky tape.

    Nothing looks better than shellac whipping IMHO – have a look on Google, although don’t blame me if you end up going the whole hog with shellac painted cotton tape on your bars and and your wife unimpressed with your assertions that the shellac will come out of the carpet if it’s just left to soak in meths for a while (it doesn’t!).

    • che 17/12/2014 at 8:09 pm #

      Shellac is alcohol soluble.

  2. Andrew Wilcox 12/12/2014 at 10:45 am #

    Recently found some Brooks Tan on eBay at a bargain price. Someone didn’t like it. Looks good on my bike.

    Had to whip thread onto the cork stoppers to get a tight fit.

    If you don’t like the branding on your tape, try starting the wind at the other end of the tape. With Deda it disappears under the overlap.

  3. Spencer 13/12/2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Wrapped the handlebar on my road bike with Lizard Skins DSP, nice and comfortable.

    However didn’t appreciate aero bars require more tape than normal bars. Took a couple of goes, with less and less overlaps each time before I could get the length of tape to reach (and no, there was nothing spare to cut off at the end unlike the YouTube videos show).

  4. Chris Page 13/12/2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Under “Insert a tiny bit of bar tape into the handlabar and begin to wrap”, you say …roll the tape around towards the outside of the bar (clockwise). Whoa! Clockwise for one side, anti-clock for the other, surely.

    Also, a tip I picked up for the insulating tape at the stem end was to use a soldering iron to weld the end of the tape to itself to stop it unravelling. I read about this just before I had to trim back the bar tape on my L’Eroica bike to fit double bar-mounted bottle cages. It works!

    And somewhere I read the colour of a bike’s stem should match that of its seatpost, and the bar tape should match the colour of the saddle. The Velominati are watching you! Fortunately my bikes all pass the test.

  5. April 14/12/2014 at 5:49 pm #

    very interesting ideas.. love it.. im gonna use them in Christmas 🙂

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