The Mountain Bike Life

I may be in the minority here (and, well, everywhere), but I actually enjoy riding on tape, rather than grips. It’s entirely possible this preference stems from the fact that I started riding in high school, and am currently in university, so I haven’t often been able to afford the luxury of buying new grips. There’s also a bit of nostalgia involved – the first bike I really got serious about was my dad’s old Klein Attitude (mentioned in probably every post I make here), on which he had wrapped the bar-ends. I’ve been messing around with various brands and thicknesses of wrap, without having much luck: either it’s too thick, too slick, or just doesn’t feel “right” for whatever reason. It took until I was opening a stubborn twist-off beer cap to realize what I should have been using as wrap: tubes!

Halfway through the conversion. I’m using white tape as a placeholder while I finalize where I want my brake and shifter. I used a double layer, stretched fairly tight.

A major component of biking, be it road or mountain, is the DIY aspect. How many times have you been stuck, either in your shop or on a ride, and had to jerry-rig some sort of replacement part? Probably more than once! I enjoy building things for my bikes that are more than a one-time solution, though – especially if they save me money!  My last DIY project was the [chain guide ], which was astoundingly effective considering it was a small piece of plastic that I wasn’t going to use otherwise. Let’s face it, the only thing that makes you feel better than finally riding that section you get stuck on is making something, for free (or at least cheap), that does a better job than something you pay money for. So, without further ado, on to this week’s project!

Roughly three-quarters of a tube should be enough, unless you like to have really wide grips. I would recommend not cutting yours, though!

I don’t want to bore you all with too many details, it’s really a simple project. All you need to do is take your old, hole-ey tubes, cut out the valves, separate them along a seam (see the picture), then wrap! I would recommend using electrical tape to anchor the beginning and end of the wrap, as well. If you’re concerned, putting some double-sided tape down on the bars before you wrap will help to keep the tube from moving around as you ride. I don’t know that it’s necessary, though – my experience has shown that the rubber does a pretty good job of sticking to itself, especially if you wrap with a bit of stretch to keep tension.

You may need a knife to start the cut, but most tubes will pull apart at a seam without too much trouble. It’s best to wash off the powder inside the tubes, too, otherwise they’ll be sliding all over the place!

Admittedly, this isn’t the most exciting home-built project that’s ever been done. As far as I know, just about the most interesting change you can make to this is whether you spiral to the inside or the outside (incidentally, I spiralled inwards, so I don’t catch my hands moving from the bar-ends to the grips). On the other hand, though, it’s a simple, quick bit of work you can do on your own ride that, assuming you like the feeling, will wind up saving you money.

If you’ve done any sort of repurposing like this, give me a shout! I always love to hear what other people are thinking up, especially if it means I can spend less money on my bikes!

The Rooftop of France
Phil’s Rants: 650b, Let’sTalk

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