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How to Replace Handlebar Tape on a Road Bike

Replacing Road Bike Bar Tape

Changing your handlebar width? Getting some new brake levers or making a significant adjustment to your setup? Or maybe that once sparkly white handlebar tape has reached the point of no return. Time to replace it!

Replacing handlebar tape is a step-by-step process, but it also requires a little finesse. Don’t be afraid to give it a try and rework sections that you aren’t happy with. So, tear off that ratty old tape and let’s get going!

What You’ll Need

  • New Handlebar Tape (a new pack of bar tape should include two long strips of bar tape, two bar ends, two small pieces of extra bar tape, and some include vanity tape with the brand logo)
  • Scissors
  • Electrical Tape
Bar Tape Supplies

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing your Bar Tape

1. Remove the old bar tape. Peel the hood back to reveal the handlebar tape that is wrapped around the hood. Be careful if you use scissors to cut the old tape so you do not scratch your handlebars.

2. Remove bar ends.

3. This is a good time to inspect your housing for any damage, ensure your brakes are secure on the bar and in the correct location, and any other maintenance that needs to be done.

4. Grab the small extra pieces of handlebar tape. Placing the end of one piece flush against the plastic hood, measure the length to the other side of the hood by creasing the bar tape. Use scissors to cut the bar tape to size. Remove the adhesive covering and place tape behind hood. *This step isn’t necessary, but it will ensure you cover the bend in the handlebar behind the brake hood effectively.

How to Wrap Handlebar Tape

5. Wrap the bar tape. On the right side of the bar, the bar tape should be wrapped in a clockwise direction. On the left side, the tape should be wrapped counterclockwise. As you press down on the bars while you are riding, the bar tape should be wrapped in the direction that your hands will twist. This ensures that the tape does not become worn/unraveled prematurely.

6. Remove a section of adhesive covering and begin to wrap the bar.

7. Allow the tape to overhang the edge of the bar. Not enough overhang and you will not be able to secure it under the bar end. Too much overhang and your bar end may not be securely inserted into the bar.

8. Keep tension on the tape as you wrap. The tape should be very snug. If the bar is wrapped too loosely, the tape will move as you ride, creating gaps where the bar may show through.

9. Overlap the tape evenly, ensuring there are no gaps between layers of bar tape.

Wrap Bar Tape Around Brake Lever

10. When you reach the brake lever, wrap the tape as close as possible under the lever. Pull the tape around the back and over the top of the bar. Again, the tape should be as close as possible to the brake lever.

11. Wrap the tape around the bar a few times and check to make sure the bar is completely covered by pulling down the brake hood and inspecting the coverage.

12. If everything looks good, continue wrapping the bar until you’ve covered enough space on the top of the bar that you can comfortably place your hands on top. Your hand should not be resting on the bare bar when you are riding with your hands on top of the handlebar.

Cut the Tape at an Angle

13. Pull the bar tape tight and cut at an angle. The point should end under the bar and create line on the bare that is parallel with the stem.

14. Use the electrical tape to secure the bar tape, starting and ending under the bar. Wrap the electrical tape two full times to make sure the bar tape is secure.

15. If you have vanity tape with a logo, remove the adhesive strip and wrap it over your high-quality electrical tape – starting and ending under the bar. Only one wrap is necessary. The tape provided in your handlebar tape package is usually not industrial enough to ensure the bar tape is secure, but it sure looks nice!

16. Using your fingers, push the excess handlebar tape into the end of the bar while you push the bar end in with your other hand. Make sure your logos match on both sides! 

So Pro!