How to Replace Road Bike Bar Tape

Replacing handlebar tape is a straightforward process, but it does take some practice to perfect this skill. Don’t worry if it takes you a few tries before you are happy with how it looks.

Handlebar tape provides extra grip and an added sense of security. Road bikes and commuters are the most common examples of where you might see handlebar tape but you can apply it to any bike as you see fit.

Ready to get started? It's time to tear off that old tape and freshen up your ride

What You’ll Need

  • New Handlebar Tape - a pack of bar tape should include two long strips of bar tape, two bar ends, two small pieces of extra bar tape, and sometimes branded tape

  • Scissors

  • Electrical Tape

Step-by-Step Directions

1. Remove the Old Bar Tape: Peel the hoods of the shifters back to reveal the ends of handlebar tape. Remove the bar ends and then remove the old bar tape from your handlebars.

2. Inspect for Damage: Inspect your housing for any damage, ensure your brakes are secure on the bar and in the correct location.

3. Place Extra Tape Behind the Shifters: Get the small extra pieces of handlebar tape that came in your package. This is used so you don’t end up with a gap in your bar tape wrap. Place the end of one-piece tightly against the plastic hood and use scissors to cut the bar tape to size. Remove the adhesive covering and place tape behind the hood.

4. Now it’s time to wrap the bar tape:

  • Remove a section of adhesive covering and start at the ends of the bars. Overlap at least half the tape over the end of the bar and do at least one complete wrap of the tape at this point. This will help you secure the tape under the bar's end.
  • To keep your wrap uniform: 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.
  • Keep pulling the tape tight to the bar as you wrap. The tape should be very snug. If the bar is wrapped too loosely, the tape will shift over time and create gaps or become unraveled. Overlap the tape evenly, ensuring there are no gaps between layers of bar tape.

    Pro Tip: There should be more overlap on the inside of the bars than the outside.

    • 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. Keep the tape as snug to the bar as possible in this area. You can pull down the brake hood to make sure that there is complete coverage.
    • 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 – often wrapping until the graphic logo is a good indication of where to stop wrapping. Your hand should not be resting on the bare bar when you are riding with your hands on top of the handlebar.

    5. Cut the Bar Tape: Pull the bar tape tight and cut at an angle. The point should end under the bar.

    6. Secure the Tape: Use the electrical tape to secure the bar tape, starting and ending under the bar. Wrap the electrical tape at least two full times to make sure the bar tape is secure.

    7. Final Touches: 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!