Extra comfort: How to double-wrap handlebar tape

Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Fizik’s 3 mm bar tape. I get a lot of use out of the stuff; it’s not unusual to see a roll last eight months up to a year on Hyro’s handlebars.

When the time came to replace it, I didn’t realize until after wrapping the bars that I may have replaced it with the 2 mm variety.


I don’t remember if this was a misprint on the box, or if the bike shop handed me the wrong thickness. Regardless, the bars felt pretty thin and harsh while riding, particularly while riding in the drops.

This felt like a good time to experiment with something I’ve wanted to try for a long time: double-wrapping my handlebars. This is a very common tactic used by pro cyclists when they race the Spring Classics events such as the Ronde van Vlandeeren and Paris-Roubaix. All of these races are infamous for the many sectors of Belgian cobblestones, called “pavé,” that the cyclists have to ride through…and you can imagine how uncomfortable that can be on a road bike.

Brothers Peter and Juraj Sagan on a reconnaissance ride over pavé for the 2017 Paris-Roubaix race. Photo courtesy VeloNews.

What works for Belgian cobbles could probably work for Manila’s streets, which aren’t much smoother anyway.

So how would you go about double-wrapping your bars?

First, remove the bar plug. Take a blade and score along the bar tape, and eventually it will have to be cut off the bar. About 5 cm of bare handlebar will need to be exposed.

This has to be done so that the second layer of bar tape can be anchored here with the bar plug; if not, it will be way too thick.

Do the same with the other end of the bar tape, at the stem area. I find that undoing the final turn of the wrap, cutting it short, and then retaping with electrical tape is enough.

Proceed to wrap the second layer of bar tape as normal. I used cork bar tape here, as this was an experiment on the cheap.

As the wrap job continues, it’s obvious that the second layer will go through more distance with each turn. To make sure I have enough tape to cover the entire handlebar, I decrease the overlap and keep the tape in tension. An advantage of using cork tape as the second layer is that it’s much stretchier than Fizik’s leather-like microtex material.

Great results, even with the figure-eight loop around the clamp band of the control levers.

Single wrap of Fizik 2 mm bar tape on the left; double-wrap on the right

Side by side, it’s easy to see just how chunky the handlebar gets when double-wrapped. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t get in the way of braking or riding; it’s just really comfy. The added bulk does make itself felt if you ride in the drops, though. You may find that your fingers need to stretch a little more to get sufficient purchase on the brake levers, and the added reach may fatigue your hands.

It takes some more effort, but this might be a good way of getting a nice fat handlebar to grip on the cheap. You wouldn’t really need to remove or replace the underlying bar wrap unless you replaced the cable housings, so with smart choice in bar tape, and for riders with big enough hands, this might even be cost-effective too. Ultimately though, I’m going back to 3 mm tape.

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