It's not as complicated as it looks. There are several methods--Rivendell even describes one using two colors of tape that gives a diamond pattern (see it at www.rivbike.com
). I often wrap over the old tape for extra padding and diameter (I have pretty big hands), so that's not a problem.
Here's one classic technique that works well for me:
Either remove the old tape or leave it on, but if it's frayed, trim up the rough areas or you'll feel them (you can also wrap over foam padding or an old tube wrapped over the areas you grip).
Fold the brake lever hood back to expose as much of the clamp as you can. Cut off about four inches from the end of the new tape and put it over the clamp, securing it with scotch tape or whatever's handy if it won't stay by itself.
Start at the open end of the bar and take one full wrap to secure the tape, then continue toward the levers, overlapping about one-third the width of the tape as you go (that will vary a little as you go around the curves). Be sure to pull it snug and smooth. Doesn't matter whether you go clockwise or counterclockwise, but whichever you choose on the first side, go the other way on the other side for a balanced look.
Only tricky part is going around the brake lever. The classic way is with a figure-eight, which I can do but can't describe. Just fool around until you get it right--you can always unwrap and start over if you screw it up. The four-inch piece will cover the clamp already, which makes wrapping a lot easier.
Once you're past the clamp, just continue until you run out of tape or you reach the point where you want to stop, then cut it off at an angle perpendicular to the bars.
Electrical tape is an easy but somewhat tacky way to finish it off. I generally use some kind of cool twine or thick string (Rivendell sells hemp twine, and gives instructions on how to apply it). This is from the website:
This is the hardest but best way to dress up a fine wrap of cloth tape. Start at the edge of the sleeve, cover about 3/4-inch of tape with twine wraps, and when you’ve 4 wraps from stopping, take another short piece, make a loop of it, lay it down and do the final 4 wraps over it. Then take the loose end of the wrapping twine, stick it in the loop, and pull it back under the last four wraps. Leave it raw, or coat it with Elmer’s. One ball of twine will do seventy or eighty bars,