Handlebar tape: when and how to replace it

Handlebar tape: when and how to replace it


Bike safety and comfort no doubt depend on elements of primary importance such as the saddle, wheels, frame size, clothing… but they can also depend on seemingly insignificant details, such as handlebar tape, for example.

This essential accessory offers an easy and affordable way to revive the look of your bike, however its role is not merely aesthetic.

Handlebar tape allows a firm grip on the drops while also reducing ground vibrations, offering greater ease of riding.

Selle Italia strongly believes in improving the riding experience, an element it considers also linked to “non-saddle” factors; for this reason, as part of the new “body” project by idmatch, it has focused on the development of specific handlebar accessories that make pedalling more enjoyable and safer in all situations. Thus the introduction of Shock-Absorbers, designed to be secured under the tape for a damping and anti-vibration function very similar to that performed by the human body, reducing hand and wrist pain caused by road buzz ridurre i disagi a mani e polsi causati dalle sollecitazioni della strada. Moreover, the special Strong Tape, designed for use in conjunction with the Shock-Absorbers, guarantees an extra-strong and particularly safe grip on the handlebar.

Do-It-Yourself: applying the tape

But, let’s take a step back, how often does the tape need to be replaced? Of course, handlebar tape doesn’t have a specific expiry date: it depends on the material of the tape, how often we use the bike and how keen we are for our bike to look “used”. Generally speaking, the taping should be replaced when it starts to lose elasticity, is no longer soft to the touch and no longer absorbs vibrations the way it did when new.

At this point, let’s see how to replace it. It’s a simple job that can easily be done on your own: you simply need to follow a few tips and have a pinch of dexterity.

In any case, the bike needs to be still so it’s best to secure it to a stand, blocking the front wheel.

First of all, the old tape needs to be removed and any glue residue removed from the handlebar drops. Then the rubber control covers need to be lifted and turned, attaching two pieces of tape – normally included in the packaging – on the exposed parts of the brake body. Now you can start to actually wrap the tape. Always start from the horns of the handlebar, leaving an extra ten or so centimetres of tape, which will eventually be folded inside the tube to secure the cap. Proceed by wrapping the spirals upwards and overlapping them, but not more than half the width of the tape so you don’t risk “finishing” the tape before you’ve fully covered the drops.

Making the most of its elasticity, the tape should be pulled well to guarantee better adhesion, but the most important thing is to respect the wrapping direction so as not to accidentally lift the tape with your hands while pedalling. That is to say it must always be applied in a clockwise direction on the right-hand side and in an anti-clockwise direction on the left-hand side: simply remember to always wrap in an outwards direction. Once you reach the end, simply cut off the excess tape and block it by using the special adhesive tape.

Lastly, the caps need to be inserted at the ends of the horns: the strips of tape left loose at the start are needed to create volume and keep the caps in position.

State of the art

The above-described procedure is the classic type, to be carried out using traditional tape, however, Selle Italia has also patented new innovative tapes called Smootape, which make the process simpler and guarantee a perfect result.

The special flared strips characterising these tapes prevent any unevenness and deformities when overlapping the spirals, thus allowing a final result featuring a perfectly smooth and regular surface, offering a sensation of continuity and a particularly enjoyable and comfortable grip.






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