Introduction: How to Install Sew-on Leather Handlebar Grips

Today I’m gonna teach you how to install sew-on leather handlebar grips.

Maybe you’re here because you just bought some sweet leather grips from Gropes or walnut studiolo or Velo Orange or maybe you went the cheap route and followed my instructable on how to make a pair and now you’re just itching to put them on. Either way, putting them on is just like putting on shoelaces. You just need a little more patience, or a lot in my case.

Let’s begin.

Step 1: Materials

Leather grips (bought or made)

Thread/lace – 15 times the length of your grips/side. The ones I use are 2mm thick

Step 2: Tools

Needle nose pliers

2 Blunted needles – I’ ll explain later why you need to blunt them

1” or 25cm diameter rod


Double adhesive tape

Step 3: Extra : Blunt Needles

Cut 2mm off the point then file or use a sharpening stone to round and smoothen the tip.

Now is where I will stress the importance of blunted needles. The lacing method described below requires you to thread a hole that is already threaded, and using braided thread, you have a high possibility of threading the thread itself. This is not good.

Because 1. you will not be able to tighten the lacing because of this, if you put the needle through the thread, it will snag. You can free the caught thread but you have to cut a few strands, thereby weakening it. That’s if you only caught a bit of the side, if you caught it dead middle, say goodbye to it. 2. blunted needles can make your work very fast, because there is no fear of being struck by a sharp needle.

You can use stitching needles from Tandy, but what we have here is either too thick or too short or too expensive and we also don’t have Tandy here in the Philippines so –

“If you can’t find or you can’t buy one – make one”

Step 4: Thread Your Needles

This is where you’ll need your lighter. If you’re using nylon thread, burn the tip a bit then pinch with the needle nose pliers to make a tapered tip. If you’re using cotton thread, just pinch to compress the tip then thread your needle.

Step 5: Start Lacing

With the skin side of one grip facing your left, put your needle through the first hole going left to right (skin side first)

Then thread the opposite hole left to right also (flesh side first this time)

With the SAME needle, repeat process above.

What you’ll have is the first set of locks.

Adjust thread so this first set is in the exact center of the length of thread. Just like lacing a shoe. See, I told you.

Step 6: Continue Lacing

Insert your rod through the first lock to have a solid foundation to build on

With your left side needle, thread the NEXT HOLE ON THE RIGHT SIDE right to left.

Then thread the OPPOSITE LEFT SIDE HOLE the same direction.

Pull the thread but do not tighten yet, just enough to set in place

Repeat process until you run out of thread.

When the left side thread is exhausted, you should be ¾ of the way of the length of the grip. That’s a good sign. Don’t worry.

Now, with the right side needle, do the process above, only in reverse.

Right hand needle, next opposite hole left to right, opposite right side hole left to right too.

What you’re doing is passing both sides of the thread through ALL the holes.

You should end up with an “X” pattern throughout the grip.

Continue this mind numbing exercise until out of thread or patience.

Step 7: Position Grip in Bars

Once you regain your patience, remove your rod and insert grip through your bars laced end first.

Push or pull or wrangle it through your desired position. I’m installing a full grip so I’ll bring it up through the stem clamping area. I really wrangled with it to get to that point.

Position lacing so it faces forward. Reason for this is twofold 1. When you grip, the lace will land under your knuckles, ensuring a more comfortable grip 2. You are doing all this effort for the entire world to know. Face that lace to the world!

Step 8: Tighten

Now to regain your thread, using your needle nose pliers, pull your thread as if you would a shoe lace.

PULL TIGHT AND STEADY. DO NOT JERK IT. This will cause the leather to rip if you jerk hard enough.

Pull each opposing set until you get enough to have a hand hold

Once long enough for your hands, start pulling without the pliers as this is faster and has more feel.

Keep pulling until you reach the end.

Step 9: Re-thread

Now that you’ve regained your patience, time to regain your thread.

Following steps above, continue threading until you reach the end of the bar.

Re tighten until you reach the end of the bar. Start from the last 2 sets from where you left off to ensure a tight grip.

Step 10: End It

At the end, tie a double overhand knot

Tuck extra thread and grip inside bar push it with your pliers

Cap with bar end.

Step 11: Put in Stem

Before doing the other side, now would be a nice time to place your QUILL STEM, if you’re using a stem with a non-removable cap, this would actually be the only time to put it on. if you’re using a stem with a removable cap you can skip this step. If you don’t believe me, continue with the next step before putting the bar in the stem, then scratch your head while you understand the concept of futility. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.

Step 12: Do the Other Side

What I discussed above is a fast way of doing it, basically a more forgiving style.

On the other side of the bar, I’ll show you a more secure but time consuming way.

Using double adhesive tissue tape, lay a “T” shaped tape to the flesh side of the grip.

Position grip to your desire by sticking it to the bar. Make sure the lace still ends up facing forward.

Now begin lacing as above. But, to get symmetry, start from the RIGHT HAND NEEDLE this time. The pictures will explain. I do this all the time because I’m OC that way.

This method is more time consuming since if you're working with bullhorns or dropbars holding it will be akward which will slow you down. But it's more secure because of the adhesive.

Step 13: Admire

Now stand back as you admire your brand new hand made hand sewn genuine leather grips and about three hours work. No, really, a full grip takes three hours to put.

Have a drink and a meal, you deserve (need) it.

Hope you liked my Instructable and please vote for me in the Leather contest

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