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Handlebar Tape Coming Loose at Bar Ends with Bar End Shifters

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Handlebar Tape Coming Loose at Bar Ends with Bar End Shifters

Old 07-20-20, 02:42 PM
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Handlebar Tape Coming Loose at Bar Ends with Bar End Shifters

Greetings! I hope this is the correct place for my question. I ran a few searches in the forum with several different keyword combinations but was either offered a handful of very specific and esoteric (at least to my novice mind) results, or a flood of thousands of results (which I spent an hour sifting through and still hadn't found an answer.

Anyway, I'm new-ish to cycling. For several years I used a Trek FX 7.2 as a means of increasing the amount of cardio I did on a weekly basis. It was a used bike I purchased from a pawn shop. It was too small for me and, subsequently, I suffered an injury that had me laid up for a few years.

Last season I purchased a Trek 520. It has drop down handlebars with shifters at the bar ends. In a season-and-a-half I've put on close to 1,000 miles on this bike. I love it.

I'm not the most mechanically inclined person. Given enough time I can probably figure out most things, but time is money and it's often cheaper for me to simply pay a bike shop to fix mechanical issues. That is, until an issue arises in the middle of a five-hour ride in the middle of the Paul Bunyan forest with no one to rely upon but myself.

That's why I'm writing today. Three times now, the handlebar tap on my bike has started to come loose at the bar end just above the shifter. In a pinch I've tied a bandana around it to keep it from unraveling, an extra shoe lace, and even a piece of bungee strapped strategically. It takes a fair amount of time from my schedule to drive in to the bike shop for this kind of repair (and, honestly, I feel a bit shameful doing so--isn't something so simple a thing every rider should know how to fix?).

I've done some research and understand that the tape should be wound so that your grip tightens the tape during a stressful ride. I'm fairly certain this is the case. The left handlebar tape is wound counter-clockwise and the right is wound clockwise. The tape also seems to be stretched fairly tight, so one would assume it wouldn't pull off. However, it does seem to be unraveling, and always at the very beginning, right where the shifters are at the bar ends.

I'm wondering if I'm pulling up when climbing hills and creating reverse torque there.

Anyway, I guess what I'm wondering is ... is there something else I should be doing at the bar end to better secure the beginning of the tape? I understand the shifters don't work like plugs, so I can't stuff the tape inside the bars and then lock down the shifters.

Should I try threading the tape in the reverse direction? Securing it with electricians tape first?

Thanks for the help and advice.
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Old 07-20-20, 02:52 PM
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I wrap tape from the bottom, starting on the bottom and making a full turn before starting up the bar. I wrap the right bar counter-clockwise looking from behind the bike. End at the top, cutting a triangle out of the last inch and a half and finishing right behind the brake cable. Wrap 2 or 3 loops of quality electrical tape in the same direction, ending again just behind the brake cable. Very seldom do those wraps come loose.

Edit: I am not kind to tape. I ride uphill hard out of the saddle, sometimes in huge gears. The details of wrap direction make a big difference for me. It sounds like you wrapped yours in the opposite direction which I would loosen at the top climbing with my hands close on the tops.


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Old 07-20-20, 03:03 PM
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A dab of Super Glue on the loose part is a common fix.
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Old 07-20-20, 03:03 PM
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Wrapping should be pretty easy. I too was intimidated at first, but what I did was buy a few set of bar tape, assuming that I'd dork up once or twice. It's an extremely easy job, but repetition breeds confidence and familiarity.

The first thing I do is begin wrapping at an angle. You'll have a bit overlaying the edge, as if you were going to tuck it in with an end cap. But we're not doing that since we have bar end shifters. I take my exacto knife and trim off that overlay. Then what you end up with is a nice even edge going around the bottom. I finish that with a wrap of electrical tape. Sometimes, wrap in a color other than black and it looks dorky, but it works.

One other tip - there is a very fine line between tape that's not wrapped tightly enough and tape that breaks because it's being wrapped too tightly. I sacrifice a bit at the end to pull and know what it feels like when it breaks -- how much pull is too much?
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Old 07-20-20, 03:10 PM
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I too start with the bottom end , apply some sticky back electric tape to it, then cover that tape with that 1st full wrap.. over it..
I agree you have to find the "Goldilocks"* tension pulling as you wrap it.

*B&E into the 3 Bear's family House & eating their Porridge is just not right.
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Old 07-20-20, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by ahrneely View Post
Anyway, I guess what I'm wondering is ... is there something else I should be doing at the bar end to better secure the beginning of the tape?
Starting at the bar ends by the shifters, I give the tape 1 and a half wraps right at the bar end - not angled, so that the edge of the tape is right at the edge of the bar for 1 1/2 wraps - then angle the tape to get the desired overlap. This looks a little clunky but it never comes loose.

If you're going to this yourself watch a few handlebar wrapping videos first, then visualize a plan (e.g. I start at the bottom of the bar, 1 1/2 wraps then brings me to the top of the bar, at which point I angle the tape forward). Don't be afraid to stop and backup (unwrap) a bit if it gets out of whack. Don't be afraid to unwrap the whole thing and start over (just don't get bar tape with strong adhesive).

I wrap right-side-clockwise but people go both ways with good results.
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Old 07-20-20, 03:16 PM
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I don't try to tuck tape into bar end shifters. I use standard electrical tape, tape around the end of the bar once or twice, then twist the tape and wrap it about halfway to the bend sticky side out before wrapping the bar tape. I cut the bar tape at an angle to finish smoothly.
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Old 07-20-20, 05:08 PM
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Thanks for the quick responses, folks. It's amazing!

All of your responses pretty much reinforce what I've been able to piece together from a variety of sources (YouTube, ******, etc.). I've pretty much combined all of this advice and re-wrapped my handlebar tape accordingly. Hopefully I won't see this issue repeat itself on the next ride. I went clockwise on the right and counter-clockwise on the left (from the perspective of the cockpit). I wrapped electrical tape inside out on the bar first, and I wrapped the handlebar tape an extra half turn at the bar end before continuing up the bar. Hopefully the combination will prevent this from happening again.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-21-20, 10:18 AM
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I use carpet tape on the bar end when I start my wrap. It's thin and double sided and really sticks. https://www.acehardware.com/departme...IJkQ&gclsrc=ds
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