Svelte Cycles without comproise

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bar Tape Done "Proper".

There is a right and a wrong way of doing just about anything. One of my pet peeves is a poorly wrapped set of handlebars. I akin wrapping handlebars to making pasta. During my tenure in Italy my Uncle Roberto taught me the proper way of making pasta "al-dente", something very simple yet requiring fine attention to detail and method. What follows is a little step-by-step tutorial of what I believe to be the proper method of wrapping handlebars.

Selecting the appropriate colour is essential. This is a topic of conversation in and of its own so we can save that for another time. Long story made short I selected a nice dark silver hue for this classic ten speed project.

We start by removing the old tape which proved to be a tedious task. This bike originated in the rainy climate of Portland, Oregon (coincidentally my home town) and its original mechanic; Eric Tonkin did a fine job on this machine. Kudos Eric.

The Cinelli cork tape was so well adhered that I derailed from the normal m.o. of peeling off the wrap... disecting the wrap with a razor and peel it off in one congeled piece.

Here I am removing the old school screw in bar plugs.

With the Cinelli "Giro D'Italia" bars stripped of their previous orange drappings, I prep by affixing the brake lever clamp strip under the hood so it's ready to go when the time comes.

I peel the entire backing off exposing the back-tack and get to work.

Starting at the bottom of the bar I leave an overlap and begin by wrapping the tape in towards the stem. Direction of wrap is very important. If you don't do this right the tape will unroll loose at each end of the bar respectively.

I make my way up the lenght of the bar overlaping the tape evenly and do the "figure 8" around the brake lever clamp. I am sure to exit the loop with the tape wrapping in the direction toward the rear of the bike. Simple but very important.

Even spacing...

While keeping the slant of the tape continuous I align the edge of the clamp portion of the bar to the wrap and cut in a stright line up to that point to create that clean, PRO look.

The last strip is rolled over and is affixed with care by an evenly sliced strip of electrical tape.

The extra flaps on the brake lever clamp are snipped now.

Time to intall the end plugs. Leaving the overlap allows them to wedge in with security.

A little love tap with the sand filled mallet and voila!



I find the Fizik Microtex to be the finest of bar wraps currently available which is why it is the only line of tape I sell. I do have in stock a myriad of colours but am streamling things down to black and white only. If you have a special hue in mind just email me at "" and I will have what you need sent out to your doorstep. If you are a black/white type, go ahead and order direct off the website.

Thanks For Reading,
Justin Spinelli


Anonymous said...

That's really interesting I wish I was that good at it. Like the red mallet. When are you coming out with Spinelli's handcrafted Italian pasta?

Robbie King said...

First, nice shirt.

Second, you should do a how-to lesson on cleaning a filthy bike. I put one together, after a few people asked me how I clean my bike, but when it came time to post, it felt too nerdy. So I bagged the draft, and leave it to you.

sharkattack said...

Deda tape is also very good and I find it has more padding than fizik...just my preference though

Anonymous said...

Nice piece. However, and somewhat odd, the actual difficult parts weren't photographed, or explained, properly at all.
1. How to affix the separate lever section of bar tape, including which length to cut, and different angle cuts depending on lever manufacturer, and vintage.
2. How much spacing of the offset overlap while wrapping.
3. How to do the figure 8 around levers without getting gaps and that horrible extra thickness that comes from an incorrectly wrapped lever.
4. Which angle and length for the final cut. (There's a single picture of scissors/tape before cutting, but no after picture).
5. How to actually wrap the final cut so you don't get that ugly bulge beneath the electric tape.

Please, just don that beautiful t-shirt again, and add few pictures/explanations to the guide, and you'll have a master piece worthy of an exhibition at The Louvre.

Anders Mard

RMM said...

I wish that you had posted this 5 years ago...I learned all of this the hard way.

Robbie King: BKW did a bike wash post that pretty much covers it: