important: Nuts and bolts on your bike should always be tightened to the manufacturer's specifications.

How to Tape Drop Handlebars

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

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.

Related Links

Related Tools

Categories

Discuss this topic in the Bicycle Repairs and Mechanics Forum

Megarange Freewheel

Lastest post 3 hours ago

A recent purchase of an Elektra 7-speed cruiser came with a Megarange freewheel. I didn't like it, so today I swapped it for a regular 14-28T freewheel. The second lowest geared cog has 24 teeth. The lowest had 34 teeth. That's a huge jump from one cog to another. I found that in a headwind, when I dropped to the lowest, I had to pedal like crazy just to get up to walking pace. And because of thi...

Read more

Mushroomed brake boss

Lastest post 15 hours ago

I'm dealing with a V-brake boss that has been slightly mushroomed. Does anyone make a tool to machine it down to spec, or do I just need to go at it with a file? Please disregard, I just realized the post is replaceable. Duh....

Read more

Removing Crank and Fork

Lastest post 4 days ago

I purchased this bike for $75 and it wasn't riding well so I decided to take it all apart and make it new again. I am having the most difficult time removing the fork and pedal cranks (I think that's what they are called). The top of the fork has a black circular piece that I am sure needs to be unscrewed but it won't budge. I have tried using a pipe strap but it just slips. Using a set of pl...

Read more

Speedplay X cleats

Lastest post 5 days ago

Anybody know why replacement Speedplay X cleats are nowhere to be found in bike stores online? (Westernbikeworks, nashbar, performance,trek superstore) I ended up finding (and buying) just the right side replacement cleat on ebay. Can still find Zeros online tho....

Read more

Upgrading an old road bike

Lastest post 7 days ago

I own an old road bike from the 80’s I quite like. To this day, all the original parts are still on the bike, except the last mudguard that broke this year. The wear and tear is getting more noticeable lately, especially the wheels and the breaks. Shifting is not as smooth as it used to be, but it’s not a major concern. The wheels are probably the biggest problem since the wheel ring is not to...

Read more

Hell all, I have a nice road bike, going back and forth to work with it, However, I have very bad Tinnitus in both my ears, and the wind rushing past them during my bike ride Really aggravates it and it's almost debilitating. I bought a headband, but the material is not think enough and doesn't block all the wind. Just for information, it's not that the wind is going IN my ear, or else I would jus...

Read more

I just registered here to ask for help. I have this bike; https://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/BikeSpecs.aspx?item=91408 Which I rescued from the trash. I know how to do the basics, like changing a tube or tire, but I don't have a lot of experience replacing parts, or doing much bike maintenance in general. To be honest, I'm not a hardcore cyclist. To me, the bike is mostly just a way to get pla...

Read more

Hi all, New member here . I just bough a new bike and yesterday was my first ride. I noticed a sound when in my 3th or 4th gear (3rd and 4th largest sprocket) . Today I tried to determine the noise and it seems to be because the chain does not seem to fit perfectly on sprockets (if inspected, you can see small gap between chain and sprocket, causing a "click" when pedalling). I checked the usual...

Read more

My First Bike for Commuting

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

Hi all, I am about to graduate with my degree and would like to bike to work since it’s pretty close to home. I recently got this fixed gear Schwinn Le Tour from a friend for free, however it is in poor condition. On reddit, I have been given suggestions as to what I should do. So far I have taken off the bar tape (it was really moldy), removed the brake levers (one was solid and one was jiggl...

Read more

Wheel won't spin freely

Lastest post 2 weeks ago

I have a kids bike and the front wheel won't freely spin on its own. Nothing is pinching or rubbing, it is the wheel itself that is difficult to spin on its axel. I tried working in some Tri-Flow with minimal results. Is there something else I can do to get to spin right?...

Read more

It's late. I'll do it tomorrow.

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

I suppose I should wait until daylight to do the job. My new lever shifter came a couple of days ago and tonight the handlebars arrived. Maybe I'll just remove the brake levers, twist shifter, grips, computer and light and then get some sleep. Well, it's stripped down. Maybe I'll just put the bars on and then get to bed. Yes, they look good but they'd look better if I just put the new lever shift...

Read more

Where to start? rigid to suspension

Lastest post 3 weeks ago

Hello bike riders! Newbie here, happy to join. Visited fam during the holidays. Found my old Fuji mountain bike in the attic. Took it back home to use for weekend rides and occasional commuting. It has rigid fork. I prefer to swap it for suspension fork. I want it to be a DIY project. My first bike build in other words. Might get overwhelming at start. So where do I begin? Anyone here has done rig...

Read more

I ruined my expensive dynamo powered front headlamp. This is the kind that adjusts to motion and knows what time of day it is as well as having a built in ability to charge my phone and other electronics. I was ecstatic when I hooked it all up and went out on my first night ride with it through Forest Park in Portland, OR with four other buddies. I was over the moon in the early morning commutes t...

Read more

Hello, bike riders! Our community member Gabriel has shared his unpleasant experience with Deore T610 brake levers: "After 2 years of very limited use ... I'm still trying to understand why is there so many holes in such a critical place" Can anyone help by explaining the reasoning for such lever design and what might be the cause of the particular break (material quality, usage, design flaw)? ...

Read more

I have just acquired a Cervelo Soloist 2006, has the Ultegra 6600 groupset. It was making a clickity grinding sound whenever I'm on the larger 2 or 3 sprockets (doesn't matter which chainring) when I'm pedalling hard and fast. Anyways, took my crank, chain rings, and bottom bracket off to clean, inspect, regrease and retorque. Greased my new pedals and torqued them on. Adjusted my front derailleu...

Read more