Introduction: Customized Handlebars With Sugru
During a recent bike fit I had complained that my existing handlebars didn't seem to have a sweet-spot behind the brake hoods. The curve of the handlebars, as they started to sweep forward, dipped downward. Tipping the handlebars up wasn't an option, if I wanted to be able to use the drops. So I had two options:
1) Buy a new handlebar (not in my budget right now)
2) Build up a "sweet-spot" on my existing handlebars.
I decided on option #2 after seeing a few Instructables that used a product called Sugru - quote from their website "sugru is the new self-setting rubber for fixing, modifying and improving your stuff."
So I decided to give it a try.
Step 1: Materials
Here's what you're going to need:
1 - Bicycle requiring handlebar customization - mine was a Specialized Tarmac road bike with Forte carbon fiber hardlebars
2 - Sugru - I needed Qty 2 - 0.7oz packets
3 - latex gloves - may not be needed, depends on if you think you may be sensitive to the Sugru
4 - scissors
5 - Handlebar Tape (optional - depends on the condition of your existing tape)
Step 2: Getting Started
To begin, unwrap the handlebar tape from the area (sweet spot) where the Sugru will be applied. At first I thought I would try reusing the handlebar tape, but that didn't work out because it was somewhat worn and stretched. So, if you plan to do something similar, be sure to have a package of new handlebar tape on hand. The photos in this step show both the right and left side of the handlebar, with the handlebar tape removed.
Step 3: Filling the Gap
Follow the instructions for handling the Sugru, it pretty easy (it handles just like modelling clay). Just cut open the foil packet(s) with scissors, remove the Sugru and roll it between your fingers and apply it to the handlebar in the area you want to fill. It was ease to mold it into the shape needed.
You'll notice there is a cable exiting along the side of the brake/shifter hood. In the picture of the right side, you can see a piece of red tape, it's used to hold that cable in place on the handlebar. It will keep the cable in place while the Sugru is applied and while it cures. And the tape is left in place while the new handlebar tape is applied over it.
Step 4: Tick-Tock - Waiting to Cure
Allow at least 24hrs for the Sugru to cure. I found it took just a little longer, probably due to the thickness of the amount used for this application.
Step 5: Finishing Up
Once the Sugru has cured, it's time to re-wrap the handlebars.
I'm not going into the various methods and types of tape for wrapping handlebars, there are several good tutorials online, in fact here's a video, in two parts that I followed.
The Sugru in the gap did make for a bit of a challenge when re-wrapping that area, so you may want to use a more flexible type of tape..
You might also notice that the area seems a bit higher now than the part of the handlebar that curves toward the stem. The hood cover did end up with just a little wrinkle, but the broader area does make for a very comfortable place to rest my hands.
If I were to do this over, I might put just slightly less Sugru in the gap area, to take into account for the tape and the brake/shifter hood cover.