Padded Road Bike Handlebars on the Cheap!





Introduction: Padded Road Bike Handlebars on the Cheap!

This project lets you take common packing material and customize your own padded handlebars with little or no extra cost.

Step 1: Get Some Handle Bar Tape

If you allready have some, peel it off, if you can reuse it, do so, if not, go get something cheaper than I found (hopefully) I was in a hurry to get some tape, and I didnt shop around too much, but I got my basic black tape for 16 bucks at a local shop.

Step 2: Get Some Closed Cell Packing Wrap!

Go anywhere that deals with shipping a lot (like retail stores) will have this suff piled up in a huge box somewhere in the shipping area. Find "associate" and make them an offer they cant refuse. or just go look around at work, its the really thin stuff thats nice and soft and closed cell, and also just so happens to rip in perfect strips once you tear with the "grain"

Step 3: Wrap Bars With Customized Cush!

Bust out your wrapping skill here and go crazy, try and think where you will be putting your hands while you ride, and add more where its needed. Longer strips are easer to work with, but you really don't need much material for the padding, if you score a 2/3ft chunk, you will have more than enough. Leave room at the center for taping down the black outer wrap.

Step 4: Finish With a Normal Wrap

Im no expert on this, and most people I talked to didnt seem to have any theories for how to wrap the outer tape. but I found that pulling it tight and leaving at least 1/3-1/2 width over wrap is good. overlapping around the outside of the curves of your bars will be important.

I found them to be an exceptable alternative to spending the 30 bucks on new black tape with special squishy inserts, as you can customize with this material to your hearts content.



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    This bike is an SR. A brand from the 80s that I have a hard time finding much information about. It was apparently a little company that got purchased by Shimano at some point. I love it because the frame is huge. They don't make bikes this tall anymore. Thank for asking!

    weird, because my kobe, an old japanese brand thats long gone has the same handle bars, except that the gear shifters are on the ends of the handle bars. so im guessing it has sun tour brakes and shifters? also the reflectors are exactly the same as mine, the wheels look very similar and the frame looks like a kobe frame. maybe these brands were bought or sold to each other? but i do love the huge thin frame not quite as bulky as some of todays bikes

    Excellent idea! Very good photos. Very well documented. Thank you!

    very cool idea. Question, does the padding slip down? I would imagine now that you have a layer inbetween the grip tape and the handlebar that it will ride down after a while? maybe not... great idea though

    5 replies

    Yeah, totally, if you wanted a completely no slip grip you could use contact cement (might dissolve foam?) or some other sticky crud, I was just looking for quick, dirty padded bars, but with just the tension of the tape on the foam, it doesn’t slip very much at all. You really have to grip and twist to notice it.

    I think contact cement is the call. It wont each the foam you've used but that foam wont last super long either, the cells tend to burst underpressure. Not that this isnt a really good idea, me likes it.

    dont glue it, like i said earlier if you wrap it the right direction it shouldnt matter if you put straight crisco under the wrap (kidding). that and you will be replacing the wrap fairly soon.

    use a glue stick, it stays a bit guey still and works perfectly.

    Being a born and bred cheapskate, plus an environmentalist, I just grab the assorted tubes that bikeshops are always throwing away (the ones with 10 patches, the valve ripped right out, a footlong pinchflat slit, etc) and wrap my bars in them. I also recently discovered, due to the ever-increasing fixedgear craze, that the Local Bike Shop wastebin has many colorful, grippy, racing tires in it.... usually with one or two skidpatches right through to the casing, and the rest of the rubber looking new. I grabbed a red-striped Michelin 700x23, attacked it with scissors, and started wrapping. Feels like a cross between cork, innertube and cotton tape. One skinny racing tyre does one whole side of large (mine are 41cm) dropbars, apparently.

    heres an idea that ill just throw out there: use baseball bat grip tape in place of handlebar tape.

    My dad always wrapped the handlebars in double-sided cloth tape before putting the handlebar wrap on. It kept the wrap from sliding down. You could put the doublesided tape down before your padding to keep it in place, then put the wrap on over the padding.

    1 reply

    just wrap the bars in a different direction. the bar wrap that came on my bike had that exact same problem but when i re wrapped it i wrapped the other way by accident and it hasnt slid at all. its because biking generally twists the grip in one direction, if its wrapped the right way then it will self tighten.

    I have a brakeless BMX, will this work? Will it look fashionable?

    1 reply

    yes it will, i done it to mine mate

    If you want to go super cheap, you can cut an old mountain bike tube into two strips about 1.5" or so wide (use the lines on the tubs as cutting guides, wash the powder off of the inside, and then use that to wrap your bars. It's nice and stretchy, so you can stretch it a bit as you wrap it to make sure it stays in place. It also adds a bit of cushion on its own. The downside is that its harder to get a plug into the end of the bar and it might make your hands smell after long gloveless rides, but hey, its free. Hope you like black!

    1 reply

    sounds like you should make your own instructable for it...

    Great instructable! I just got a used (but in good condition) Schwinn Crosscut the other day, and the foam/gel/rubber/whatever-they-are grips on the straight handlebar were all gooey and nasty. I took some strips of old tube and wrapped them for the time being, I might try this if I can get some actual tape!

    Man, why didn't you post this 2 weeks ago...that was when I wrapped my handlebars! =D (bought Planet Bike tape with built-in gel. Before that they were padded with strips of old T-shirt and wrapped with blue duct tape. Worked quite well till the duct tape started getting sticky in warm weather.)