Ride Like a Leader: White Bar Tape

Ride Like a Leader: White Bar Tape

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When done correctly, Cycling can be both the hardest and dirtiest of sports. We relish in the glory of returning from a ride, battered by the four winds and soaked by the seven rains; our bodies, faces, and machines covered in the reasons why most people might stay indoors. Given that, there is something almost cavalier about submitting to the deluge in the color white, particularly when it comes to shoes, socks, jerseys, and bar tape.

Modern cycling teams, with budgets outsized only by the egos inhabiting the roster, are tending strongly towards a Three Musketeers, unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno mentality. Yet, in years gone by, when Rule #5 was a way of life more so than a badge of honor as it is for us, teams were dominated by a single leader who shouldered responsibility in all manner of races throughout the season. In those days, team bikes were generally built, as they are now, in accordance with Rule #8, with bars wrapped in blue, black, red, or green tape. One bike, however, always stood out as the exception: the team leader’s bars were always wrapped in white.

White is a glorious color to grace a set of handlebars. It emphasizes the sensual sweep of the drops and the beautiful curve from the hoods to the tops. It brings out the crisp shadows of the cables running beneath the tape to highlight a perfect wrap. It stands as a testament to the care that is undertaken in maintaining the machine, for without meticulous attention white does not stay white for long. It states that these bars are graced not by the sullied hands of a domestique, but by the clean grip of a leader.

When it comes to wrapping bars, there are many classy possibilities – black is always stylish and versatile (you can dress it up or you can dress it down), red is fast, celeste is classic – but for Bike #1, I always choose white not because it’s Pro, but because when I go out, I ride like a leader.

// Accessories and Gear // Kit // Nostalgia // The Hardmen

  1. Doesn’t like to sprint in the drops, does our Fab…

    Flanders last year:

  2. @SimonH “complete silence except for the sound of the derailleur purring like a contented cat sat in front or a warm home fire”
    Nice image. Might take cat #2 on next ride to check.

    @Ron “slammed stems are nice & all, but I’m going to ride whatever allows me to ride lots and lots of kms.”
    I concur. I’ve only just figured out that my training bike stem has to be slightly higher than on my race bike, cos I’m going slower (less load taken by legs) and for longer on the training bike. So ended many years of a sore back after 4+ hours…

  3. @frank man, I’ve missed out on a lot of stuff #revivesdeadthread

  4. Oooh boy, finally got one of my bikes back together after weeks of working on it. Very happy. New bars, tape, cables as well. Looks great, can’t wait to take it for a long ride. Tape is white, of course!

    Question for ya: I used some perforated Deda tape (Traforata). I normally like to wrap towards the outside on the drops (clockwise on right side, counterclockwise on left) and then switch it up so that on the flats the tape is coming back towards me, pulled tighter when you grab them. However, I couldn’t work out how to do this with the perforated tape – my normal wrapping method would have hidden the perforations and exposed the non-perforated half of the tape.

    It would also happen with the Microtex tape. Anyone use this wrapping method and figured out a solution? (sorry if I’m just being stupid and not seeing an obvious sollution.)

  5. @Ron
    You can change wrap direction by taking a turn around the shifter base (I’ve done this by accident in my early days of wrapping) if you want to, I personally don’t.

  6. Just wind it the right way and it will work fine.

  7. @Souleur

    Fella’s, De Vlaeminck is the gold standard when it comes to the flat back position and drilling it. No others IMHO match his aggressive stance. Many, including Spartacus come close, but lest we forget, the bikes and geometries have changed also. That may account for some subtlty here.

    I think lo Sceriffo might want a word on this topic…

  8. Moser usually had quite a rounded back, although he sure could get low in the drops.

  9. @sthilzy

    Now – who has the best method of lining up the stem straight in-line with the frame/wheels?

    quick trick if you don’t have the option of giving the bike a quick verification spin (say, wrenching in the basement or garage at night, etc): line it up the best you can giving it the old “close one eye and use the other to line the tire up with the stem line” method. but don’t tighten it fully. now get beside the bike and line the stem up with the frame. now grab the back of the saddle and push the bike forward, using care to make an absolutely straight line and not touch the handlebars. is the stem still straight in line with the frame? if not, adjust it.

    this won’t be perfect, but it’ll get you damn close.

  10. This picture is from the excellent folks at Bike Rumor:
    Integrated hydraulic Di2 levers at Bike Rumor

    So, the question is… What’s worse; the hood shape, or the awful wrap job?

  11. @Calmante

    This picture is from the excellent folks at Bike Rumor:
    Integrated hydraulic Di2 levers at Bike Rumor

    So, the question is… What’s worse; the hood shape, or the awful wrap job?

    Hood shape – you can fix the wrap job. Those look like antlers instead of hoods.

  12. @chiasticon

    @sthilzy

    Now – who has the best method of lining up the stem straight in-line with the frame/wheels?

    quick trick if you don’t have the option of giving the bike a quick verification spin (say, wrenching in the basement or garage at night, etc): line it up the best you can giving it the old “close one eye and use the other to line the tire up with the stem line” method. but don’t tighten it fully. now get beside the bike and line the stem up with the frame. now grab the back of the saddle and push the bike forward, using care to make an absolutely straight line and not touch the handlebars. is the stem still straight in line with the frame? if not, adjust it.
    this won’t be perfect, but it’ll get you damn close.

    THAT IS FUCKING BRILLIANT.

    @itburns
    Exactly, though its hard to pick the chunks from the vomit and say which is better.

  13. @itburns

    @Calmante

    This picture is from the excellent folks at Bike Rumor:
    Integrated hydraulic Di2 levers at Bike Rumor

    So, the question is… What’s worse; the hood shape, or the awful wrap job?

    Hood shape – you can fix the wrap job. Those look like antlers instead of hoods.

    Both, and the levers only add to the atrocity.

  14. @frank

    @chiasticon
    THAT IS FUCKING BRILLIANT.

    hah. thanks. nine times out of ten it’ll be dead on.

  15. Tomorrow marks another step closer to la vie velminatus. I pulled the bar tape off after this evening’s roller session, I’d been putting it off for a while but realised the only way was to bite the bullet.

    The left shifter is lower than the right and has been leaving me in a bit of pain as a result. A bodge job hadn’t sorted the problem so tomorrow after a good clean down, I’ll probably end up swearing a lot before having to buy more tape after ruining the microtex stuff I’ve bought.

  16. I’ll be sticking with black for the moment, though, pretending that I’m team leader when riding solo doesn’t count.

  17. We were going over this back on Page 2, but please remind me of the best method here.

    I’m putting a new stem on one of my bikes. What is the best way to get the bars titled/angled the same way as I currently have them? (they are Deda bars with markings, but different makes of stems, so they won’t sit in the same spot in the clamp.)

    And I’m not sure if I missed it or what, but has anyone figured out how to wrap the bars with the tape going out on the drops and back on the tops when using perforated tape? I had to tape going away on the tops to get the perforations showing.

    I think Oli mentioned I need to do it “right” but this was a bit vague.

  18. I meant that if you tape it going from outside in, all your troubles will be over.

  19. @Oli
    Agreed. Outside in is the way to go!

  20. Okay, thanks Oli. I might leave well enough alone this time & next wrapping job alternate how I go about it.

  21. Velominati, my first attempt at bar wrapping. It took a couple of partial un-wrappings and I’m not entirely happy with the result. I’m going to leave it as is for the moment and see how it holds up to a few roller sessions and 100km or so at the weekend.

    Feel free to tell me if I’ve got it horribly wrong.

    Slideshow:

    Fullscreen:

  22. @Chris
    The spirals should go in opposite directions on the tops (on the whole bar actually). Other than that, it looks good to me
    Your kitchen tile is awful and what’s going on with the hardware on the cabinetry. Jeez!

  23. @Marko
    That’s the last time I post pictures of my kitchen. FFS, if you’ve nothing nice to say…! What’s with the keepers today?

    Spirals are the wrong way round? Sod, does that mean it will come apart quickly. I followed the guide on the Park Tools site.

  24. @Chris
    Lighten up francis, I was trying to make a joke about yesterday’s kerfuffle.

    Re bars: Your tape – on the tops – looks to be wrapped in the same direction. Look at how the overlaps both flow from left to right in the pics. They should flare out.

  25. Chill, I knew what you were up to and was also making light of it.

    I see what you mean but I think I may have just gone round the corner badly on the right hand side?

  26. @Chris
    Shit, I thought so but can never ascertain sarcasm on this thing.

    Could be how you laid the wraps as you came around. I’ve done that before. In which case, it’s an easy fix.

  27. @Chris

    Don’t know how you did it, but yeah, they’re definitely going in opposite directions. One thing you did get right, though, is the finishing tape! Good call on that one.

    This last wrap job, I did it out to in, but it’s not the way I usually like it, and I think this is the last time I do it this way. I think it looks a lot cleaner to start on the inside and go out, no finishing tape necessary.

  28. here she is…can’t wait for the White Microtex to wrap her up
    building up tonight

  29. @Souleur
    Nice frameset, can’t wait to see it built up!

  30. @Souleur
    Sweet, what’s the build going to be?

  31. sram force grouppo, zipp tubies for prom dates, open pro’s on training days…will post later, need to get it all sized up and fine tuned as Ridley’s are all with taller head tubes, so will need to trim the fork, measure…remeasure…measure

  32. @Souleur
    Always safe to just stick with Belgian cycling accouterments.

  33. Looking forward to seeing that Ridley get dressed up!

  34. @Chris
    A pretty good job. I did something similar on my first attempt re the tape changing direction on one side. I wasn’t happy with my work after the lever so I unwound and part of the edge ripped off. This would have been ok as it would be covered but when I got to the same spot it wasn’t covered any more! After some head scratching I figured out that there are two ways of doing the figure eight and when I figured out how I’d done it the first time the rip was again covered.

    Unfortunately I’m unable to give you a step by step account. When I did the second side it was really hard figuring out how to do it again.

  35. @marko: I’ve always been fond of Italian girls, but this Belgian just spoke to me

    I am eyeing some 4ZR posts..stems..and all to dress her in Belgian style, but they are few and far between. It must be special
    will put up pics later this weekend i hope
    had to acquire english threaded BB since the switch over from Italian

  36. I just got some new bar tape on my French steed. White cotton tape (a la the Prophet) purchased from Cycles Alex Singer in Levallois for 4€. The non Rules compliant saddle-to-bar drop is because I just switched to my rain saddle and didn’t get a chance to change the seatpost height.

  37. I ride a Bianchi.  Only Celeste will do for me.  It’s “white” enough to demand the same respect.

  38. Rule #8 question… I’m acquiring a 1985 Bianchi Veloce. Nothing special, but it’s Celeste, Italian, and draped in Campy.

    What to do for tape/saddle/tires? The hoods are tan/brown, and I’m not sure I can source other colors. The saddle is an ugly black Selle that has to be replaced with something with large brass rivets. Three possibilities that have been suggested:

    1) Brown tape to match the hoods, brown leather saddle, and leave the tires and cable housings black.

    2) Celeste tape, brown saddle and tire sidewalls, black cable housings.

    3) White tape and saddle, tan tires to match the hoods. White housing?

  39. @Auto-X Fil

    Rule #8 question… I’m acquiring a 1985 Bianchi Veloce. Nothing special, but it’s Celeste, Italian, and draped in Campy.

    What to do for tape/saddle/tires? The hoods are tan/brown, and I’m not sure I can source other colors. The saddle is an ugly black Selle that has to be replaced with something with large brass rivets. Three possibilities that have been suggested:

    1) Brown tape to match the hoods, brown leather saddle, and leave the tires and cable housings black.

    2) Celeste tape, brown saddle and tire sidewalls, black cable housings.

    3) White tape and saddle, tan tires to match the hoods. White housing?

    I’d go with option #3, but I’m not sure about white housing – for me it would depend on the colour of the logos on the frame

  40. Logos are that darker blue Bianchi used in the 1980’s. I could potentially match them to the cable, but black or white seemed easier.

  41. I don’t know where you are…UK? but if you wanted the option to change hood colours, these might do?

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/hudz-campagnolo-ergo-v2-original-sti-hoods-9-10-spd/

    you can also buy OEM campy ones for £20 in red black and white on the same site….but I guess 1985 is downtube shifters right?

    Personally with Celeste I would go white saddle and hoods, in my minds eye cannot decide if white or black would be best for the cable housing..

    If you like the tan hoods the you could go vittoria open corsa tyres with the gum walls in which case get yourself i nice brooks swift or swallow or B17 saddle to perch yourself on.  Brown hoods and saddle, I would say white cable housings but black would not be out of the question….

    As ever, if it looks wrong it probably is but personally I like tan hoods and tape on nice old navy blue and maroon bikes….celeste, I am not so sure..

    Deda do a decent leather look bar tape (it looks like bar ends are black so maybe it is better to have black cable housings after all)..

    http://www.wiggle.co.uk/deda-leather-look-bar-tape/

    I never…ever…have white on tyres, I just think it makes you look like an american cadillac with white wall tyres..just my person opinion..you are the one who has to ride it!

  42. @Auto-X Fil

    Logos are that darker blue Bianchi used in the 1980″²s. I could potentially match them to the cable, but black or white seemed easier.

    In that case I would probably try the white housing rather than the black. I really like the gum hoods with tan sidewall tires on an ’80s era downtube shift boss frame with white tape and saddle – that should look sweet.  Jagwire makes their Racer housing kit in celeste if that interests you – normally I’d say that much celeste housing would be too gaudy/matchy-matchy, but since you’d only be using the brake cable housing it may look nice.

  43. You might find something you want here….http://www.campyoldy.co.uk/index.htm

  44. @Auto-X Fil Black tyres (tan sidewalls if possible), white or Celeste handlebar tape, black saddle, black or grey cable housings. A bike like that shouldn’t be subject to the modern Rules, it should reference its own era. Trying to match things will make it look try-hard and crap, in my opinion.

  45. The VMH just got some new Leader Tape for Spring 2013 cruising, applied by the resident wrench. She pays the bills, I tune the steeds. She doesn’t push herself too hard, but I always let her lead, as the view is much better bringing up the rear.

  46. Without prompting or reference to The Rules, my daughter told me that she thought her new (to her) bike would look best with white tape (the current tape is a bit tatty, the brakes aren’t ideal and the cables need replacing). She wasn’t at all discouraged when I told her she’d have to ride like a leader.

    She’s even up for going out at 5.30am for a ride before school/work.

  47. @Chris

    Without prompting or reference to The Rules, my daughter told me that she thought her new (to her) bike would look best with white tape (the current tape is a bit tatty, the brakes aren’t ideal and the cables need replacing). She wasn’t at all discouraged when I told her she’d have to ride like a leader.

    She’s even up for going out at 5.30am for a ride before school/work.

    Your role as a guiding influence on her life is complete…..you can now retire to the Bahamas ….. Before she rides you off her wheel!

  48. @Deakus

    Your role as a guiding influence on her life is complete…..you can now retire to the BahamasBefore she rides you off her wheel!

    That is a major concern but I reckon I’ve a few years yet, especially if I train with her.

  49. Via inrng:

    White bar tape
    Talking of fashion and bike mechanics FDJ will ride with white bar tape all year, even Francis Mourey in his cyclocross races. It looks clean but there’s a romantic reason as well. At the team presentation team manager Marc Madiot said because when he was younger “all the champions had white bar tape”. Now he’s running his own team he wants the same. Now you know.

  50. Unless your beloved is a Bianchi (Celest only please) then bar tape must be white, anything else shows how much you take you beloved for granted…. Black tape is truly is a sad sight in the eye of a cognoscenti :(

     

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