A few years ago we were visiting my childhood friend and noticed that her daughter Kendall had covered her brother's old bike in duct tape to fancy it up. Thank you Kendall for the inspiration! When it came time for my daughter to take over her brother's bike, she was excited to DIY all the brother-ness out of it with a duct tape makeover of her own.
Step 1: Amass a Bunch of Duct Tape
We found a lot of our patterned duct tape at the dollar store and then purchased a few higher quality rolls at Michael's craft store. The dollar store brands are thinner, have less yardage on the roll, and the adhesive is not heavy-duty as Duck Tape brand, but the patterns were cute. I will get back to you on the long-term durability of this project. I suspect it will require some upkeep over the next few years, but that just means we get to add even MORE tape!
As far as instructions go, it's pretty easy: Start wrapping duct tape around the bars of the bike. The length of tape you will need to go around the bars will vary from bike to bike. Sometimes I used the whole width of the tape and sometimes I ripped it in half. I slightly overlapped adjacent strips of duct tape so that in the end, the original orange paint wasn't visible. We even duct taped the brake lines because, why not? Be careful not to tape over joints or places that move or areas that may need to be adjusted in the future. You don't want to mummify your bike and make it hard to ride.
Using several different patterns creates a patchwork effect, or as my son put it, "It looks like mom's sewing room barfed all over my old bike."
Step 2: Take It a Step Further and Add Washi Tape and Bling.
My daughter brought me her collection of washi tape and suggested we add that as well, so we did. The multiple strips of patterns added even more color and interest. We also added a little bling around the handle bars and front-facing bar with some Duck Tape brand adhesive gem strips (which until last week I didn't even know existed).
Step 3: Add Accessories!
We took it to our local bike shop GHY Bikes to have them add a kickstand and work on the hand brakes. While we were there, my daughter fell in love with some sparkly handlebar streamers, a bell, and a cute detachable basket, so we added those as well. Since we thought a duct tape bike needed a duct tape flower, we detached the fabric flower that came on the basket and made our own mix-and-match duct tape one (separate tutorial coming soon).
Step 4: Ride Off in Style!
In the end, all evidence of brother-ness has been obliterated. My daughter is now ready for our annual neighborhood bike parade where the kids decorate their bikes and ride together to the park. We probably spent a little over $120 spiffying it up: $50 to get the brakes fixed, $30 in accessories, and probably $30 in tape. That's a pretty big investment in a bike I bought 5 years ago for only $20 at a thrift store. It's worth it though because now it's more than a bike... it's a one-of-a-kind work of art.