27. How to Tape Drop Handlebars

Learn how to remove and install the handlebar grip tape on road-style drop handlebars.

IMPORTANT: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.
How to Tape Drop Handlebars
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VIDEO UPDATES

  • 00:18 - Hold the brake hoods back with an elastic band if they won't stay on their own.
  • 00:36 - Loosen your brake cable and compress the brake lever to find the tightening bolt.
  • 01:20 - Wrap in the same direction your hands turn while you're riding.
  • 01:57 - Make sure the tape overlaps the 3" strip as well!

Today we’ll learn how to wrap handlebar tape on road-style drop handlebars. For this job you’ll need a set of handlebar tape, some bar plugs, a sharp knife or razor, and some electrical tape. It’s also a good idea to keep your hands clean throughout the procedure.

Remove Old Tape

The first step is to flip back both brake lever hoods and remove the old tape. Some people like to simply cut it away using a razor blade, but I prefer to unwrap it to avoid scoring the aluminum or damaging the cables. Then remove the plugs from the inside of the bar ends.

Align Brake Levers

Before you begin taping, check the alignment of your brake levers. The bottom of each lever should be in line with the bottom of the handlebar and they should also be inline with the side of your bars. Make sure the cables are securely fastened to front side of the handlebar using electrical tape.

Begin Wrapping

Let’s start with the right side. Your new tape should have come with two extra 3″ strips of tape. Wrap this around the bottom of the brake clamp from the rear end. This hides the gap that is often left behind when you wrap around the lever.

To start wrapping, unpeel a bit of the adhesive backing and start by placing the end of the tape under the end of the bars. You’ll want to leave about half of the tape hanging over the edge on the first wrap, which we’ll tuck into the bar end later. The most common direction to wrap the tape is clockwise on the right side, and counter-clockwise on the left.

While you’re wrapping, make sure each rotation overlaps itself about 1/3. You’ll want to make sure the middle section of adhesive on the backside of the tape is always contacting the bars. Pull on the tape evenly through the process to keep the wrap tight, but be very carful not pull too hard or the fragile tape will snap. Pull off the adhesive backing as you go, as this will keep it from getting dirty until you’re ready to apply it.

Wrap Around the Lever

When you get to the brake lever, try to make sure the top edge of the tape overlaps a little bit of the bottom of the brake lever in order to avoid leaving a gap. Then pull the tape around the back end of the brake clamp and over the top.

Now pull the tape around and continue wrapping the top section of handlebar. Stop wrapping when you get to the handlebar’s clamping ferrule, or about an inch from the stem. If you have handlebar accesories you may want to leave some extra room for them to clamp on. Before you finish, it’s a good idea to go back and check that there are no gaps in your wrap job.

Cut and Tape

Holding the tape in place, cut the remaining angled section of tape away using a sharp blade, so that you are left with a clean cut. Then secure it with a few wraps of electrical tape. Make sure to pull the tape so that it stretches nice and evenly. I like to overlap the end of the handlebar tape and completely seal it with the electrical tape.

Bar End Plugs

Once the wrapping is done, go back to the bar end and tuck the extra tape into the handlebar using the bar plug. This will make it hard to fit the plug in, but if you push it hard enough or use a rubber mallet to tap it in gently it should fit and leave your handlebar ends nice and tidy.

To wrap the left side, repeat the same procedure but remember to start wrapping the tape counter-clockwise instead. The left side should end up being an exact mirror image of the right.

The last step is to flip your brake hoods back to where they were.

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