PROBLEM: Your handlebar tape loosens and shows gaps, especially on the top curves just behind the brake levers.
SOLUTION: Re-wrap the tape starting at the bar end and finishing near the stem.
When tape is wrapped the other way, from the center to the end, your hands push against the overlap along the top curves. This rolls the tape’s edges and eventually opens gaps.
Buy new tape or reuse what you have if it unwraps without tearing. Start at the very end of the bar. Pull firmly and overlap uniformly about one-third of the tape’s width. Beware of gaps on the front side as you wrap around the big bend.
Roll back the rubber hood and do a figure 8 around the brake lever. For a pro job, first put a piece of the bar tape around the lever’s metal band. Then no gap will show when the hood is put back.
Continue wrapping snugly to about one inch from the stem (or to the edge of the bar’s raised center section, if it has one). Cut the end and secure it with a piece of electrical tape. You get bonus points for using a color that coordinates with your bike.
Voila! Another nuisance negated. The tape should stay perfectly in place. Your hands can’t push it apart.
Tip: Don’t forget to put your bar plugs back in. Those little things are actually a safety item. An unplugged handlebar could take a core sample from your leg if it were to hit you in a crash.
Paul Ahart, Island Bicycles Precision Service says
I have wrapped/rewrapped many handlebars in my 30+ years in the bike business. I always finished off the bar tape with plastic electrician’s tape, which worked ok, but would eventually smear and slip.
On a trip to Home Depot I found black silicone tape, which is a good inch wide, is stretchy, comes in a roll about 4′ long, and costs about $5. There is a clear plastic film that must be peeled off as you make 3 or 4 wraps directly over one another to finish off the bar tape, using this instead of plastic electrician’s tape. The silicone tape fuses to itself, will not slip. and is super durable. Also looks good for a long time.
This is really useful advice! Having this problem now so I will look for this at Home Depot.
Jerry Brick says
Thank you for the tip! I will give that a try. I find that the electrical tape looses its grip in the hot summer riding.
Yes this silicone tape works great and it fuses to itself to create a tough waterproof seal. We used it in the military for temporary wiring repairs on the AH-65 when a quick secure repair was needed to keep the aircraft flying. I has to be stretched then securely pressed onto itself and as it relaxes it adheres to itself creating a tight and water proof seal .I have never used it for wrapping bars because it needs a lot of tension to work correctly and electricians tape is usually more than sufficient except in more extreme cases. I also use it for wrapping tool handles for a better grip. It does dry rot and gets hard after a while and needs replacing. It is designed as a temporary fix only.
Will Haltiwanger says
You can order silicone tape in colors from ebay for less than $5 delivered. Works great, No sticky mess.
D London says
For many years I wrapped my bars the traditional wrapping way of starting at the bar and wrapping up to the stem and taping it off with tape. Now with the new self fusing silicone wraps there is no need for tape. I start close to the stem where I’d normally end my wrap. Start with making the first wrap really tight all the way around the bar then start wrapping as you normally would down to the bar end. At the end trim as necessary and fold the remaining wrap over into the bar end and install the bar end cap. Viola you have a clean neat wrap and no tape needed or showing.
Tom Fleming says
I use electrical tape to finish my wrap. I pull it tight for several wraps and then take the last wrap with just enough stretch to keep it from wrinkling. It never comes loose or exposes the adhesive. No need for magic silicone tape.
HD also sells “Extreme Temp Electrical Tape”. It’s $3 for a 3/4” X 66’ roll. It comes in nice plastic container but is stacked next to regular electrical tape. Read the labels. It says suitable for up to 600 Volts with a Temperature range of 0-221’ F. I’ve good luck with this in TX where summer temperatures are in triple digits.
My routine for finishing at the top of bar is to cut the end of the wrap at an angle so that I have a nice vertical edge as the final turn comes around the bar. Then, I would use a small dot of either double stick carpet tape or super glue to secure the wrap while I do the finishing tape. To get the most durable adherence of the finishing tape, I would then take a heat gun and warm up the tape, which softens it so the adhesive gets much better contact. Since I started using the self-fusing silicone tape, though, I really don’t need the heat gun anymore. That stuff is amazing.
The article seems to imply that if one wraps from the stem to the end, one’s hands can roll the edges or “unwrap” the bar tape.
I have not had this problem…wherever one starts the wrap (from the stem or the bar end), this issue depends upon which way the tape is wrapped. The tape direction should be so that the hands push the tape (when riding) in the direction which tightens the tape (rather than loosening it).