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The Noobs Guide To Wrapping Handlebars: Throw Away The Electrical Tape


August 2013

A couple of years ago I ran over my Cannondale SR-400 with my Ford Escape. I didn’t bump it or nudge it, I ran that thing over. Fortunately the only thing I broke was the derailleur hanger and I ripped the bar tape to shreds. I scratched up the brake lever pretty good too but that was buffed out. I took my bike in to the only Cannondale dealer I knew of (about 45 miles from my house) and pleaded with the guy at the counter to fix me up.

They straightened the rear wheel, buffed out the scratch on the brake lever and re-wrapped my bars with red tape – the bike is white on blue so the red tape only made sense. Well the important part of this little walk down memory lane is the wrap job that they did down in Howell. The tech wrapped the bars in a manner that allowed him to forego the electrical tape.

Well, I’ve wanted to redo my bars for a few weeks now so I finally bit the bullet and bought some new tape today. Bright blue to go with my red bike and white helmet. Rather than simply wrap the bars and write about the process, this time I took pictures so I can pass it on…


Left side complete

I cut an old piece of tape to get the distance from the stem right...

I cut an old piece of tape to get the distance from the stem right…

You want to make sure the wrap is tight - go around once, then start down the bar (under/over)

You want to make sure the wrap is tight – go around once, then start down the bar (under/over)

*See Below for bar end

*See Below for bar end


Right Side Complete – Use that electrical tape on wiring, not handlebars.

Now the bar ends are a little tricky. If you were using the normal electrical tape method you would just let it run a little long and tuck it in with the stopper. Well that doesn’t exactly work because you’re wrapping backwards. You have to let it run a little longer so that almost all of that last wrap tucks into the bar end (all but 1/4″ of the width of the tape). Once you’ve got the length right, then you have to tuck all of that crap in and jam on the end cap while you hold the tape tightly so it doesn’t suck into the bar end while you’re jamming in the bar-end cap. It’s a little tricky to get the right feel while you’re doing this. Just take your time – and breathe.

I’m no pro bar wrapper but mine look pretty stinkin’ good and clean. The next time your ready for new bar tape, leave the electrical tape in the tool box.

UPDATE:  For Cyardin (see the comments section), who asked the following question:  “what do you do around where the lever joins / clamps the bars? I have lifted back the hoods but can’t quite figure it out.”

IMG_2891  IMG_2892 There are two strips that will have an adhesive back that come with the bar tape (at least this is so with Bontrager bar tape).  You wrap one of the strips to form a U around the bar that runs up the hood on each side.  You’ll want to center that strip on the metal cinch strap that secures the hood to the brake lever to the bar.  Once that’s on, you just run your bar tape (down in this application, up in the standard electrical tape application).  You’ll want to ride the tape up the hood quite a bit so that you cover up both edges of the strips or your hood cover won’t completely hide everything – best to check before you finish the wrap if you’re not sure.  Secure the bar tape with a piece of, ahem, electrical tape once you get down towards the end of the bar…  Roll down the hood cover and check both sides…  You should be left with a small “V”…  No bar showing?  Finish up.  If you see bar, roll it back and try again.  Once you get this right the first time, checking probably won’t be necessary any more.  Now, if your tape doesn’t come with those two strips, cut 5” or so off of each roll and make your own.  Maybe use some electrical tape to secure the tops (where the lever hood will cover it).  The question that arises is this:  Do I really have to use those strips?  No, you don’t.  it is possible to wrap the bar in a manner that will cover everything but you have to wrap twice around the hoods and switch directions and that uses up a lot of tape.  I’ve gone this route once and I’ll never bother with it again.



  1. cyardin says:

    This is one that I have stayed away from for one reason, what do you do around where the lever joins / clamps the bars? I have lifted back the hoods but can’t quite figure it out.

    • bgddyjim says:

      There are two strips, same color as the bar tape that have an adhesive back… They wrap in an “U” around the bar and up the sides of the hoods. You put those on first and simply wrap around the hood and continue down. I’ll take a picture and update the post in the morning. 😉

  2. Dra Martha Castro Médico WMA says:


  3. bikevcar says:

    Good job. Much cleaner without electrical tape

  4. kruzmeister says:

    Ooh I’m loving this post Jim, I want to change out my bar tape to green for IM, so this will come in handy, cheers mate!

  5. Alex says:

    I have done this a couple of times on my road bike. The first time the tape just wore out and got a cut in it. The second time was after a drop. Getting around the levers is actually quite natural Cyardin. You just make a V shape, by wrapping one way and then the other. The extra bit of tape used for the levers is OK, but the wrapping does not lose anything if you miss this out and just carry on. I went for a bit of white bling, since I had tried a medium grey before. The bike looks better for it. It is worth spending the money on good wrap though. I went for a good cork wrap, which has a nicer feel over long distances in the saddle.


  6. […] re-wrap them. When you redo your bar tape, take your time and do so preferably without the need for electrical tape. If you get it right, that’s instant cred points at the local club ride, for what […]

  7. hi says:

    I thought i was the only one that did this!
    Every road bike i bought, the first thing i did was to redo the tape.
    I really dislike seeing the electric tape (it looks common 😀 )

  8. criz says:

    Yes, it looks good to have an electrical tape-free wrap.
    But… done this way, you’ll get overlapping sections of tape that face towards the rider instead of away.

    This means that whenever you’re riding with your hands just in front of the hoods or on the ramps / shoulders (a lot of the time!), you’re pushing the overlapping portions of tape apart from each other. These overlapping ridges were distracting and annoying when I wrapped my bars like this, and ultimately I switched back to the tape method.

    • bgddyjim says:

      You do have a point, though if you wrap them tight enough it shouldn’t be too much a bother. I’ve had mine wrapped like that since I wrote the post and haven’t had a single problem with.

      Thanks for pointing that out though.

  9. […] this before on a bike with drops but was confident-I’ve watched all the videos, and all the posts. It was surprisingly easy but I wasn’t time pressured so didn’t feel rushed. As it was […]

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