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  1. #1
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    Thick touring handlebar wrap

    Hello everyone,

    I have been converting my old crome moly mountain bike into a touring/trekking bike and I just installed some trekking type handlebars. Part of the reason for this was because they were of the right diameter for all the mountain bike hardware to fit. And it is intended to be a budget solution so I didn't want to buy new brake levers and gear levers.

    Last time I went on a long trek/tour my hands were numb for days afterwards after a long time with the straight mountain bike handlebars. So I decided I needed the additional hand positions of drop bars or trekking bars. I also realized that I would want a more thickly padded grip or wrap but after going to the bike shops and finding the price of the good thick stuff I was looking for something less expensive. Orignally I figured I would put some gel pads under a thicker bar wrap but that ends up costing about 50 bucks. More than I paid for the trekking bar. It was hard to justify.

    For the lower part of the bar where the brakes are and the bar is straight I just installed an old pair of cut off mountain bike grips. They are there until I get some better ones like some Ergons which I have on my other bike. I tried wrapping the remaining bar with some old inner tubes which I intended to cover with a final standard type of bar wrap which is usually around 8-10 USD. But after putting on the tubes I found the surface too uneven and not padded enough. I wanted something better but I didn't want to pay 50 bucks for the bike shop stuff.

    So I went to Home Depot looking for alternatives. I thought maybe they had some foam tape and that I could wrap the bars with that and then go over it with some standard bar wrap. They didn't have any of that foam tape but what I found to try were two things.

    The first was the cheap polyethylene foam insulation that is used on plumbing pipes. This was really cheap and had about a 2 inch outer diameter and the inner was close to the bike handle bar size. I had to slice it to get it on and then apply tape around it. It felt pretty good. It was nice and soft but a little too mushy.

    I was going to do both sides this way when I thought I would try the other method I had conceived on the other side to compare. The other method was to wrap the bar in this garage door weather stripping material that I had got for 9 bucks. About the price of standard bar wrap.

    It turns out this stuff works really good and is much better than the polyethylene foam pipe insulation. First off this stuff is some kind of more dense foam. It is designed to lie on the bottom of the garage door and take the weight of the door and maintain it's shape so it can take more weight without compressing. I think it is some kind of polyeurethane foam but it is really very similar to bike bar wrap in that the outside is a water proof rubberized finish. It has an unusual cross section and is a little more than 2 inches wide and about .25 inches thick. It also is tapered on one side and has two ridges running down the lenth that make it easier to keep the wrapping aligned. When finished the wrap is very firm and looks nearly like standard handlebar wrap except that the bar is now nearly two inches around.

    I liked the garage door weather stripping wrap so much that I took the polyethylene pipe insulation off of the first side because I could immeadiately tell that the garage door stuff would be a lot better.

    I just finished wrapping the bar and it is raining and I don't want to go out in the wet since I am breaking in a new Brooks seat. But It feels incredible so far from just sitting on the bike.

    Anyone wanting an inexpensive and thick bar wrap for touring long miles may wish to give this a try. I will post back on how the wrap actually works on the road. The strip was for a 9 foot wide door and I had about 3 feet left over so I think the whole nine feet cut in equal lengths it would work well for a drop bar. If not it is also available in 16 foot lengths for a little more money.

  2. #2
    Slow Rider bwgride's Avatar
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    Will you post a picture of what it looks like on your bar?

  3. #3
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    old inner tubes, cut into strips, work great for an under-layer bar wrap. also inner tube makes an excellent chainstay protector.

  4. #4
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    I just double wrapped my bars with standard bar tape. Too much wrapping isn't really a good thing unless you've got giant hands.

  5. #5
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    This ain't a cheap solution, but I just got some ot the Fizik gel strips that you but down on the bars before wrapping - it's great - much better than similar stuff from others that I've tried.

  6. #6
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    I just got back from a short ride with the new wraps. It performed beyond my expectations. The feel was good. Firm enough to feel the road response but completely devoid of vibration. I have big hands so this works well for me. However, it should be noted that for long rides spreading the weight on your hand out over a larger area decreases pain in the hand caused from pressure on the nerve. This had been validated by research.

    I'll go get my digital camera and take a snapshot.

    Here is a snapshot of the wrap. The picture didn't turn out to good because I didn't take the time to adjust the camera just right but you get the idea. The old grips are just temporarily duct taped on but with riding gloves they seem to be just fine. Looks are not the best but if the ends were finished better the wrap looks just fine.

    By the way the campany who makes this particular weatherstripping is called M-D Building Products, Inc. Oklahoma City, OK.

    The nice thing about this stuff is that it stretches really well as you wrap it so you can kind of adjust the thickness and density to some degree by how tight you pull the wrap.
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    Last edited by Hezz; 05-04-06 at 05:27 PM.

  7. #7
    Hello from Canuckistan! saanichbc's Avatar
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    Another idea to consider is plain old hockey stick tape. I have been using it for years under my usual bar wrap, and it works very well. I usually put about 4 wraps of black hockey stick tape under my Cinelli bar wrap, or, as I have currently, my Brooks leather wrap. Works very well.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    Good idea saanichbc. Hockey tape is perfect because as it heats up with humidity, the adhesive tends to bleed through the fabric a bit- good for helping keep your tape secure. I just finished wrapping the tape on my new Dark Cherry Pearl LHT two days ago... why couldn't you have mentioned this hockey tape tip earlier? Oh btw, I'll be sending you a picture of my LHT in a few days when I get back from a two-day shakedown.

  9. #9
    Banned wagathon's Avatar
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    I think that wrapping the bar twice with cork tape works pretty well too
    Last edited by wagathon; 05-08-08 at 09:45 PM.

  10. #10
    Thighmaster
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    I can vouch for the Specialized Bar Phat gel pads (almost identical to the Fizik). I ride a Kona Jake and had problems with severe numbness due to road buzz amplified by the straight blade fork, but the 2.5mm gel pads cured it without adding too much meat to the bars. (Yes I wore gel gloves and still do, but there is a limit to palm thickness and problems with bunching with heavily padded gloves)

    The thicker gel pads look a bit fragile and prone to leaks I would think.

  11. #11
    Senior Member socalrider's Avatar
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    Cinelli gel tape has good padding and is much thicker than the standard cork tape..

  12. #12
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    I like foam grips myself; I use three sets on my bar and they are the most comfortable ever. Cost about $24.00 but man nothing will ever come close to these in term of comfort. My two cents.
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  13. #13
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by radical_edward
    I can vouch for the Specialized Bar Phat gel pads (almost identical to the Fizik). I ride a Kona Jake and had problems with severe numbness due to road buzz amplified by the straight blade fork, but the 2.5mm gel pads cured it without adding too much meat to the bars. (Yes I wore gel gloves and still do, but there is a limit to palm thickness and problems with bunching with heavily padded gloves)

    The thicker gel pads look a bit fragile and prone to leaks I would think.
    Yes they do lool that way, but they are not. They are super comfortable too.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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