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 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
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…
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.
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.