Favourite Handlebar Wrap

18

by Mark V on Mar 25, 2008 at 9:33 AM

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I have this thing about wrapping handlebars…perhaps an obsession. When I was still a novice, I once took an hour wrapping and re-wrapping the same handlebar which led to another hour of lovers’ spat with my exasperated girlfriend. I have on occasion wrapped a bar with brand new tape, only to rip it off moments later after I decided it was “wrong for the bike.” I have also carefully transferred tape and re-applied it to three bikes over a period of two years. I have crashed on some tape repeatedly, bolstering it with electrical tape until the original wrap was barely visible. When I go to Japan, I stock up on coloured electrical tape because I think that Japanese electrical tape works best for finishing the terminal end of the handlebar wrap. One time, an ex-teammate drove an hour and half to have me work my handlebar wrap magic on his new bike.

At this point, I have a plethora of preferences for wrap.

IMG_3383.jpg My favourite wrap is Cinelli. The “cork” type, not the “gel.” With the exception of the Cinelli’s newly re-introduced “corky” wrap, the cork label is a little misleading, since there are but tiny bits of cork in the clearly foam-based tape. However, the “corky” wrap is almost entirely natural cork and makes your bar look like a wine cork.

Back to the regular Cinelli cork wrap: it’s been the standard since before I got into cycling. Its dense tapered foam has just the right amount of grip and cushion for me, and it’s adhesive backing means it’s much less likely to slide on the bar than the gel type. Cinelli changes the colour offerings from time to time. One of the new ones is the World Championship wrap kit with WC colours striped the whole length of the tape (seen here). Includes chromed end caps with the WC stripes again. Expect to pay about $30.

The only beef I have with Cinelli is that it’s not terribly durable. The Fizik microtex bar wrap makes a pretty good rainbike wrap. It’s a little thin on cushion, but it can be combined with Fizik’s excellent Bar Gel under-wrap padding. Fizik tends to retain its vivid colour even through a couple seasons of weather.

A lot of people love cloth wrap like Tressostar or Cateye, but I don’t really care for it except on mtb bar- ends. It’s grippy but lacks cushion utterly. I have never understood the appeal of Benotto wrap…if you are too recent to cycling to know what that is, just believe me when I say that sometimes progress is good.

What’s your favourite wrap?

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Comments: 18

Ctto cork tape is brilliant.  Very pretty, durable and more comfortable than gel nonsense.  I pre-wrap the bar in unpadded two-sided tape and get no slippage.  Finish the ends in waxed-twine, and plug the ends in wine-cork and it’s sex!

I just wrapped my bars for the first time. A friend suggested an old tube. It was super easy and it’s working fine so far. I guess it’s not the prettiest option, but either is my bike.

Whatever is cheap and cork-like.  I tend to go with Ritchey or Bontrager because that’s what I have lying around.

I am a massive fan of cork tape. Specifically the normal black tape with black speckles/spackles. However I do something that makes hardcore roadies faint, I wrap the bars in a reverse direction. I also knot the wrap around the hoods and then finish by locking the tape with the end-plugs.

Yes its crazy, but so far nobody has complained (Well, lots of people have complained ‘when’ I was doing it but I must have wrapped many bar tapes in my bike mechanic days and nobody returned). I found it increased the length of time the tape lasted from ‘one hard winter’ to ‘many years’.

I call it the ‘Ferret’ Method. Not suitable for bike shops that like to sell lots of bar tape.

The reverse-wrap, that’s a YouTube video waiting to happen—Mitch, can’t condone the old-tube method, tape can be had for pretty cheap.

I just got new bar tape for my bike after having it for a year.  The original Bontrager tape was terrible, it slid everywhere and had no cushion or grip. 

After a recent trip to SLC to visit a friend, a guy from his LBS turned me on to the Fizik bar tape.  It is amazing stuff.  I know I am coming from the worst of the worst, but I love everything about it.

I had another friend that went with me wrap it, as he is a self proclaimed “bar wrapping expert”.  I watched him for pointers and ending with more “do-nots” than “dos”.  He wrapped in an inconsistent width and angle, and left most of the brake lever mount visible, even though there is a boot on it.  He then topped it off by putting the “Fizik” end tape on upside down (from my perspective while riding) and beating the end caps in with a shoe, with no respect to the orientation on them either.

After this experience I have learned two key things. 1) That guy is far from an expert, and 2) I am never letting someone wrap my bars again (unless I am in the area and can convince you to, kudos on that gorgeous wrap job).  I thought I was being a tad ridiculous, but after reading this post, I don’t feel too guilty for wanting to go get a fresh set and do it the right way (read: my way), and burn the evidence of poor bar-wrapsmanship.

Talking about this post in the bike shop, I heard tales of the legendary **diamond wrap**. Having only heard of such a bar wrapping, I was intrigued . . . has anyone ever seen the diamond wrap? Personally, I was reluctant, but now totally into the [hugga green wrap](http://bikehugger.com/2008/03/stem_stubs.htm).

I have seen the legendary diamond wrap, but not for years, maybe 15.  I only ever saw it in Benotto tape - maybe there was a reason for it after all.

Here is a good tutorial on the famed diamond wrap, also often referred to as Harlequin.

http://www.wastedlife.org/bike/harlequin/index.html

My neighbor Bill still does the diamond tape job.  He does it with fat cork tape so the thing ends up rather beefy.

Starting the wrap at the tops is the worst!  If you ride on the tops at all, the tape rolls over as you put outward pressure on the bars - ugh!

Andrew. Indeed, however I found a way to solve that problem. Wrap the tape on the top of the bars uber-tight and quite close. I usually only do the whole reverse wrap on touring bikes however, and the extra padding on the tops is lovely…

Still doesn’t get round the problem of when you have to replace the cables though :D But I suppose when the cables need replacing the tape probably could walk of the bike.

Whatever happened to cork and varnish. Hard on your hands, but looked great? You wore the padding on your crocheted sports gloves (White with a blue and red stripe naturally)

Cinelli cork mostly.

My Quickbeam has yellow Tressostar coated with amber shellac which matches a honey colored B-17 perfectly and is sort of one of my obsessions. http://www.flickr.com/photos/fixedgear/172825187/in/set-302710/

Another vote for Fizik, too. So I guess I like several brands.

I too have taped bars and removed the tape ninety seconds later. It didn’t magically change color when I put it on the bike, though that must have been my hope.

actually, I’ve always wanted to try stitched-on leather.  that looks so money!  but back in the ‘90’s I couldn’t find it, and now I don’t have a bike that it would look good on. Nowadays, you can find it at velo-orange.com.

I have installed the Brooks leather wrap for a few customers, which is NOT stitched.  Didn’t like it.  It seemed too bulky and yet had no cushion to it.

I guess this just reveals how much of a rube I am, but I just really like the cheap Bontrager Gel stuff, I find it gives my tender hands more padding than the regular “cork” version. I have had a few times when it has slid a little, but I would atribute that to my poor wrapping skills.

i use japanese cloth tape.  no padding, yes, but on rides where padding is important i’m wearing padded gloves anyways so maybe the point is moot.  i used to get a numb left hand (my left collarbone was broken a year and a half ago ... coincidence?) but that stopped when i got thicker, old fashioned leather gloves.

for my bike trip this summer i’ve been thinking about putting a pair of ourys on my bar tops.  i really like the ones on my city bike.  i’m guessing it will probably look really stupid, and i can’t help but think i got the idea from those silly fixed-gear bicycles .....

doug:
i’ve been thinking about using ourys for a dirt drop bar in the drop area. 

Kore makes an interesting grip that adds a flattened, wing like grip to the flats of normal drop bar.

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