New handlebars can make a bike feel like new. Although it is true that they represent a small part of the bicycle, the rubber and adhesive tape handlebars are a key factor for the comfort of the bicycle. The good news is that you don't have to go to a bike shop to install them.
Method 1 of 2: Replace the Rubber Handlebars
Step 1. Carefully slide or cut the old handlebars to remove them
Sometimes it is necessary to use a razor blade to cut carefully. Try not to scratch the chrome. If you want to keep the handlebars without cutting them, you can spray WD-40 lubricant between the handlebars and the bar, waiting 5-10 minutes for it to work its way inside. Turn the handlebar so the lubricant spreads inside and you can easily remove it.
- You can insert a screwdriver between the bar and the handlebar if you can't get under it. Use the bar to hold the handlebar up as you spray the lube underneath.
- If it's stuck, you can use compressed air from a can to remove the handlebars.
Step 2. Wash the bar with water and detergent to remove the WD-40 lubricant, dust and dirt
Scrub the bars well with a sponge or old rag to make them as clean as possible. In this way, you will make the installation of the new handlebar much easier and you will be able to keep it in place. Once you're done, you need to fully extract it.
If the handlebars are open at the ends, be sure to dry the inside as well. The water that stays inside after installing the new handlebar can cause it to rust
Step 3. Use 3-4 long plastic ties as “rails” to slide the handlebar over
Attach the plastic ties on the different sides of the handlebar, and then use these smooth, low-friction areas to slide the handlebar onto the bike. Then simply pull the ties out to finish the installation.
Keep in mind that locking handles are gaining popularity. They require a hex or Allen key, but you can easily loosen the bolt, slide the handlebars, and then tighten it in place
Step 4. Apply hair spray, hand sanitizer, or other fast-evaporating substance inside the handlebars
If you don't have plastic ties, a little alcohol-based product (such as hairspray or disinfectant) can help you slide the handlebars easily. As an added benefit, the handlebar will definitely stay on once you put it in place. Although not strictly necessary, this step can prevent the handlebar from immediately sliding off the bar if you are having trouble.
Step 5. Push the handlebar up to the bar, rotating it to align its contours
This movement can help you by slowly advancing the handlebars on the bar. Although a snug fit can make installation difficult, it will pay off later when the handlebars won't come off mid-ride.
Method 2 of 2: Apply Tape Handlebars
Step 1. Cut or unroll the old tape
You will rarely need to cut through the duct tape and you should be careful not to nick the handlebar itself if you have to. Most of the time, you can simply unroll the old tape from the bike. Remove the cap at the end of the handlebars, using a flat screwdriver if necessary.
Before removing it, you should consider how far the old tape went up over the bars. This is a good guide so you know when to finish applying tape
Step 2. Wash off any adhesive bumps that the old tape has left behind
Use a mild degreaser, or a little warm water and dish soap, to lightly remove the adhesive residue.
Step 3. Set up your workstation and prepare the bars for the application of the masking tape
Take some electrical tape and lightly wrap the wires around the bars, if they aren't already connected. Know where you want the tape to end, and prepare a knife or scissors to cut off the excess once you're done.
For a more professional design, you can wrap some double-sided tape around the bottom 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of the bar to help hold it in place
Step 4. Start at each handlebar from the bottom, wrapping to the right and left
You should wrap the handlebars in such a way that it prevents them from unrolling while you ride. Starting from the bottom prevents the wrap from sliding down under your hands. Also, wrapping in the right direction for each hand will prevent it from unwrapping while driving (many people, when they get tired, tend to clench their hands and twist them outward).
Pull the tape hard. The goal is to apply a lot of tension to achieve a tight, waterproof handlebar
Step 5. Leave about half of the tape hanging off the bottom of the bar on the first pass, wrapping it 3-4 times as you work
Move the bar up, overlapping it slightly for 3-4 turns. Then, push the cap into the exposed wrap, sucking it into the handle so that the cap holds the bottom of the tape in place. Repeat the procedure on both sides.
Step 6. Work slowly, overlapping about a quarter of the tape with each turn, as you go up the bar
If you see adhesive on the tape, you will often end up covering it. At this point, you should pull on the cover and slowly wrap the tape tightly around the bar. You will likely have to pull and work the tape several times, making sure there are no gaps.
- Often times, it is best to test the tension of the tape before you begin. You should give a good tug to feel how far you can adjust the tape without tearing it.
- To avoid gaps where the bar can bend, you may need to overlap the tape a bit more.
Step 7. Lift the lever frame (rubber cover on the brakes or gear lever) and wrap past this point to reach the top of the bars
The top of the handlebar (the flat part) should be wrapped inside out. As you finish the bottom of the bars, you should get as close to the levers as possible. Then move to a small area where the bars are bent and just start wrapping the tops of the bars.
Step 8. Reverse the wrapping direction for the top of the bars
This procedure will be easy if you pop off the lever cover, as described above. Most riders rotate their wrists back on the top bar, possibly unraveling the tape. That is why you must change direction when you reach the top bar:
- The right side should be wrapped to the left.
- The left side should be wrapped to the right.
Step 9. Cut the masking tape to the desired length and finish wrapping
You can "wrap excessively" and then use a ballpoint pen to mark the points you want to cut. Then simply follow this line with a pair of scissors for a clean, professional tape application.
Step 10. Add 2-3 wraps of duct tape to keep the wrap in place
At the end of the wrap, you can use some "finishing tape" to secure the wrap in place. Add just enough to keep it from unraveling easily, usually 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) over the tape and the same length over the bike frame.
To get a better grip, you can use a lit match to melt the tapes in places and "weld" the tape onto the handlebars
- Using oil, soapy water, or something like that to apply the handlebars will simply make them slide on the bar for the duration of their stay on the bike.
- Saliva can also work if you don't have hairspray or disinfectant.