Taping my handlebars…

January 29, 2010 at 23:00 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Yesterday evening, I acquired a new skill. Or rather, I did something for the first time, which means next time I do it I’ll know how to do it better. But probably still not skilfully.

Anyway, the story started when I decided to replace the bars on my Peugeot; the ones that were on there were rather narrow and not comfortable. The bike, being old, has a quill-style stem which requires the bars to be threaded through (as opposed to the more common ‘pop top’ on modern stems), so I also thought I’d make it easier on myself by switching this out too.

So I bought a quill-to-theadless converter along with the new bars; it seems to work quite well, although it was a bit tricky to get the converter deep enough into the headset with much wiggling I finally managed to get it down to the ‘min insertion’ point, which in any case seemed about the right height.

New bars all went on fine, although I did them struggle to get the brake levers off the old bar. My trusty ‘how to do bike repairs’ book assured me that these were loosened by turning bolts under the rubber hoods; I struggled to find these, and in the end removed the rubber hood off one of the levers completely. Nope, no bolts to be found. After much head-scratching, I realised they were behind the brake levers; it was necessary to slacken off the brake cable and then insert an allen key into a bolt that became accessible when the lever was pulled down as far as it would go. The downside of this was that I stretched the rubber of the hood somewhat whilst removing it. Oh well, lesson learned!

Once these were installed on the new bars, I had to apply the tape. This was the bit I was most nervous about. I had bought some rather nice brown tape, and whilst it wasn’t especially expensive I was worried I’d botch it up completely.

Getting started was fine; I left what I thought was plenty of overhang to tuck into the plug (about 2/3 the width of the tape), and then proceeded up the bar. My first error (which my book said to guard against), was not checking I was leaving enough overlap on the outside of the curve. I didn’t notice until after I finished the first side, but there is a spot where the tape doesn’t quite meet.

The second problem was finishing it off neatly at the top. How far should I go? How should I trim the tape neatly in order to finish it off? I probably should have considered these questions before I started. Ah well. Another lesson learned. Actually, I found finishing it off neatly at the top the hardest part; I had kind of assumed this would be the easy bit, but it seems not. On the second side I managed to cut the tape the wrong way too, so had to chop some more off to finish it. This meant the two sides are not quite the same length, and I’ve used far too much ugly black tape to secure the ends. Actually this is the part of the job I’m least happy with.

The other problem was getting the plugs in; I had actually left too much overhand, and it was too thick to tuck in. I ended up having to trim it, after having some nervous moments as it all looked as it it was going to unravel from the wrong end! The bits around the brake hoods are also not ideal; one thing I also didn’t consider was whether to wrap inside-to-outside or vice-versa. I think I did each side a different way (!), and one of them goes around the brakes more neatly than the other; on one side there is a gap. It doesn’t help that this is also where I stretched the rubber…

Still, it was my first time, and at least the stuff is on there. It just remains to be seem how long it lasts before it all starts unravelling!

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