How to tie-dye your handlebar tape

Make your cockpit a little more psychedelic with this guide from Velo Orange

We cyclists have a remarkable penchant for colourful, go-fast, wavey garms that frankly wouldn’t be acceptable anywhere but on a bike.

For some, that taste for garish gear carries over to the ‘real world’, and with the festival season in full swing, I have no doubt that at least a few of the hippies and trendy yoofs of our readership will be breaking out the classic of colourful threads over the next few months — the tie-dyed T-shirt

So, for that portion of our readership, today I have a treat for you, a guide on how to tie-dye your handlebar tape.

We first spotted this guide on the blog of our friends over at Velo Orange, and Clint from the Annapolis-based brand has kindly allowed us to re-run it here for you.

The Velo Orange team has an office tradition of wearing tie-dye on Fridays; they call it Tie-dye Fri-dye — genius. However, Clint isn't sure if perhaps he's the only participant.

But the weekly event got him thinking that his white bar tape could do with a little spicing up and he decided that tie-dye would be a great way of doing that.

So without further ado, here’s how to make your ride a little more psychedelic, man.

How to tie-dye your bar tape — courtesy of Clint at Velo Orange

What you need

Tie dyeing your handlebar tape is easy enough to do — you just need a tie-dye kit and white cotton bar tape. I like our tape for this application as it's nice and thick so it'll soak up plenty of dye.

You can experiment with a few different folds for the tape, but I don't think these ended up making much of a difference.

Soaking the bar tape in water before dyeing helps it absorb the colours better
Soaking the bar tape in water before dyeing helps it absorb the colours better

It's easy enough to wrap a few rubber bands around the tape right out of the box and get to the dying. When you've got it all wrapped up, I'd recommend soaking it in water before you dye. This will help the dyes absorb into the fabric.

Making sure the dye gets into the cracks between the tape is the key to ensuring a good overall coating
Making sure the dye gets into the cracks between the tape is the key to ensuring a good overall coating

Time to dye! I tried a couple different dye application methods — stripes along the rubber bands and soaking the top and bottom of the coil, and both work pretty well.

You really need to get in the cracks of the tape to make sure it all gets colour. Unless you want some white, which can be a pretty cool effect too.

We're quite fond of this more subtle, splash-like pattern
We're quite fond of this more subtle, splash-like pattern

The tape as seen on the brand's discontinued Carmargue
The tape as seen on the brand's discontinued Carmargue

And on the brand's all-round touring-shredster the Polyvalent
And on the brand's all-round touring-shredster the Polyvalent

Here's the tape on a couple bikes! I think it turned out pretty darn well, and just in time for the summer.

Why not use any leftover dye to complete some serious #squadgoals?
Why not use any leftover dye to complete some serious #squadgoals?

We had some leftover dye from the bar tape so we tied an dyed a few shirts, shoes and caps! Great participation in tie-dye Friday today!

Are you rushing to the craft store to get involved with this funky project? Or is good-ol’-plain-ol’ black bar tape all that will ever be on your bike? If the latter is your answer, I’m not interested in seeing your bike. For the funkier readers out there, please feel free to share any photos of your tie-dyed goodies. I might even allow splash-tape here.

Jack Luke

Staff Writer, UK
Jack has been riding and fettling with bikes for his whole life. Always in search of the hippest new niche in cycling, Jack is a self-confessed gravel dork and thinks nothing of bivouacking on a beach after work. Also fond of cup and cone bearings, skids and tan wall tyres.
  • Discipline: Long days in the saddle by either road or mountain bike
  • Preferred Terrain: Happiest when on a rural road by the coast or crossing a remote mountain pass. Also partial to a cheeky gravel adventure or an arduous hike-a-bike.
  • Current Bikes: Custom Genesis Croix de Fer all road adventure wagon, Niner EMD 9.
  • Dream Bike: A rigid 44 Bikes Marauder, all black please.
  • Beer of Choice: Caesar Augustus
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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