Replacing handlebar tape can be one of the most satisfying maintenance tasks.
Worn tape, whether it be worn, frayed, or stiff with the sweat of sessions on the turbo trainer, can ruin the appearance of your cherished steed and feel uncomfortable beneath the hands to boot. Robbed of its absorption, road shock will transmit more easily, especially if you’re riding sans gloves.
In this latest instalment of our video maintenance series, we checked in with Jon Hayes, mechanic at independent bike shop, Ride, for a demonstration of the correct way to wrap tape.
Jon chooses to work with a tape with a gel backing, rather than a solid adhesive on the back, which he says allows the tape to be reused.
Starting the wrapping process can be done in one of two ways, either by wrapping the tape around the end of the flat section of the ‘drop’, or by inserting the tape into the end of the bar. The latter is Jon’s preferred method.
He highlights the importance of keeping tension in the tape while wrapping, and of maintaining a consistent overlap: approximately half the width of the tape.
Reaching the dual control lever clamp presents the next challenge. Jon briefly demonstrates the ‘wrap around’ method, where the tape is wrapped ‘up and over’ the clamp, and the use of ‘cheater strips’ – pre-cut pieces of tape that stick to the back of the clamp. He recommends folding down the lever hood soon after taping the clamp to check that the tape is sat smoothly on the bar.
When the tape has reached the centre of the ‘tops’, it needs to be temporarily secured while a strip of PVC tape is prepared to hold it in place permanently. Jon uses a pin spanner: a tool with the appearance of a large pair of tweezers.
Using scissors, he trims a ‘taper’ into the end of the bar tape, holds it in place against the bar with his thumb, before applying a wrap of PVC tape, winding it in the same direction as the bar tape.
As a final touch, some tape manufacturers apply ‘finishing strips’ – short pieces of tape with a logo. Tapping into place a plastic bar plug will hold the tape in place at the other end of the bar.