Introduction: Leather Bicycle Handlebar Grip

A few weeks ago I bought a second-hand bike. The handlebar tape and the saddle cover where both ruined so instead of buying new ones I decided to give leatherworking a shot.

I don't have any specific materials for leatherworking so I made tome tools on the way.

I did some research and then just started with it, this is my first attempt so I clearly made some mistakes that I will explain throughout the instructable.

I will keep improving my skills and experimenting to come to a (near-to-) perfect result, and make a new instructable then!


-Leather (size depends on the handles)

-Needle and (strong) thread

-Double-sided tape

-Leather waterproof spray


-Sharp knife or scalpel

-Pencil or tiny marker


-Old fork


-Rubber bands

Step 1: Preparing the Handle Bars

I took the handlebars of my bike in order to take better pictures, this was absolutely not a good idea. I forgot about my brake cables and didn't sew them under the leather.

I started with removing the old handlebar tape and the soft padding the was underneath.

I cleaned everything off with a product to remove stickers etc.

I marked the place of my brake levers before removing them.

Step 2: Measuring the Handlebar

My handlebars were not perfectly round so I measured the circumstance of the handlebars on different places and traced these measurements on a piece of paper. I cut out this piece of paper to cut out the leather later.

I suggest that you take handlebars that are the same diameter over the whole length because it is quite hard to successfully trace the shape of the handlebar to a piece of paper or leather.

I didn't manage to do it properly.

How to measure: Take a piece of leather (that you will use) and go around the handlebar to measure the width you will have to use. Subtract 2-3 mm of this before cutting, the leather will stretch a bit.

Measure the length on the outside of the bend and add 20mm.

Step 3: Cutting and Making Holes

I placed the piece of paper on the leather and cut it out. For straight lines I used a ruler.

GO SOFT ON THE LEATHER! Don't put too much force on your knife, go in multiple soft passes. Otherwise the leather will stretch and give you deformed lines.

I took a fork and cut off the handle with an angle grinder and sharpened the tips a bit.

I made the holes about 3 mm from the side and used a scrap piece of pallet wood to protect my workbench from the punches. I always placed 1 tooth in a hole I just punched, making sure that all the holes were on the same distance.

Making holes is also possible with a nail but then you have to mark the holes beforehand (about 4mm apart) and you will be busy for quite some time.

When I was almost at the place of my brake levers, I put them back on. I tightened the leather a bit around this. The excess leather I stuck inside the handlebars before putting on the cap.

Step 4: Sewing It On

This step is where I made the biggest mistakes. I didn't apply double-sided tape and forgot my brake cables. It's best to apply double-sided tape before sewing on the leather, this will make sure that the leather wont move around your handlebars.

Start by soaking your leather in water. Place the leather around the handlebar and secure it with some rubber bands.

How to sew: I made a little drawing to explain.

The length of my thread was about 3.5 times the length of my leather.

Start with the first 2 holes, go through and make a little knot and proceed with going through these holes another 2-3 times.

Go over the outside to the next hole (green stripes) and underneath (red stripes) to the one on the other side.

Don't tighten in the beginning but first go all the way to the end and tighten afterwards. Before tightening make the leather wet again by "tapping" some water on it.

At the last 2 holes you again go through 3 times to secure.

When I was almost at the place of my brake levers, I put them back on. I tightened the leather a bit around this. The excess leather I stuck inside the handlebars before putting on the cap.

Step 5: Protecting the Leather

To make the leather last longer, it is needed to be protected against water and dust. I used a spray can to apply a protective coat, but there are also some diy protective substances you can make.

Step 6: Finishing

The last I needed to do was install my handlebars back on my bike (and realize I forgot my brake cables).
I hope you found the instructable useful! Any feedback is always welcome and stay tuned, my saddle is coming up next.

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