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How to Braid Bullwhip Leather Bar Wraps on Bullhorn and Other Handlebars

How to Braid Bullwhip Leather Bar Wraps on Bullhorn and Other Handlebars

Bullhorn handlebars were originally made by flipping a set of a drop bars and cutting them in half with a pipe cutter (still known as the "flop n chop"). The resulting handlebars are lighter-weight, curve forward and up, and some say provide the best leverage during climbing.

Bullhorn handlebars with Walnut's Sew-on Leather Bar Wrap, customer photo

So it makes a ton of sense that our customers have been asking for a "half set" of Bullwhip Braided Leather Bar Wraps to wrap their "half" dropbars. And the questions raised by this bar style can help guide whether the Bullwhip bar wraps will work on a different style of handlebar.

The short answer? You'll need to be crafty to make it work. But in this post we'll go through the three main features of the wraps and share one customer's experience so you can make your own decision, as well as provide some alternatives.

Handlebar Diameter

We designed the width of the plaits to be a complimentary scale to a 1" (25.4mm) drop bar, but the braiding plaits are flexible to diameter size. Keep in mind that the larger the diameter, the shorter length it can wrap.

There is a sew-on section midway down the wraps designed to be hidden by the brake hood that is also designed for a 1" diameter bar (more on that below).

A bullhorn bar has the same diameter as a drop bar, so no problems here.

Handlebar Length

The bullhorn bars purport to be "half" drop bars, so in theory half a set of wraps should be long enough. However, one customer tried this out in real life and found that in practice, a half-set didn't cover the full length. This could be because as bullhorn bars have evolved into their own product, manufacturers have been making them a little longer.

Customer Chris M. in Detroit volunteered as guinea pig. We sent him a half-set of Bullwhip Bar Wraps and he reported back:

Hi! So I installed the braided tape on my bullhorns and I've been riding with it a couple weeks. These are the stock/standard bullhorns from State Bicycle.

Their site says they measure at "25.4mm/ 42cm". I actually used a pipe cutter to remove 1" from the ends of their bars, and as you can see from the photos, the braided leather still isn't quite long enough for a comfortable grip near the stem even with the inch removed from the bar.

My bar after the taper down is exactly 3" in diameter. The length of the area needing to be wrapped was a little tougher to get so I would say my estimate is loose: I measured the distance along the outside of the bar with my bar wrap on. I measured from the bar end to the end of the leather wrap (which looks like it extends further, but it's just grip tape) which falls 1.5" short of the taper up. I also cut an inch off my bars before applying the wrap. All things considered, bar end all the way to the taper, and with the additional inch I removed it's 12.5". This is the number in case someone wants to wrap the full bar. If they're using a standard brake lever though, they might cut it short.

In the video for the braided tape you use a little leather swatch as filler near the brake hood on your drop bars. I think something like that could maybe work here as well near the top of the bars. You can see when starting the braid near the top of the bar there are pretty obvious gaps. I tried to reduce those by adjusting the angle of the braid straps, but it caused the stitched area above to shift and wrinkle. 

I could have cut the stitched portion off, shifted the braid up, and braided to the end of the bar and thrown some tape over it. Unfortunately that in turn would reduce the grip area near the stem about 1", when there already isn't much there.

I think I might reuse the braided bar wrap for my top tube and purchase leather bar tape.  

Hope this helps!

We think Chris did a terrific job with the installation and the braiding. And he had a lot of great solutions that could work for other riders, such as filling the gaps with leather scraps or finishing the ends with an extra length of whip-tying.

For some, this end result might be "good enough." But ultimately, our tester thought that a half-set wasn't quite long enough to wrap the full length of the bullhorn bar.

Sew-on Section Midway

This is what the Bullwhip Bar Wraps kit looks when they arrive: two pieces of leather with a sew-on section in the middle and the braiding plaits off either side of the stitching section. Comes with a small stitch kit including needle and thread.

The final complication, is that the Bullwhip Bar Wraps have a sew-on section midway down their length to sew under brake hoods.

Our install video will help explain what we mean about the sew-on section and the brake hood: 


With bullhorn bars, there is no brake hood, so for a half set, the choice is to either cut off the entire stitching section, which reduces the overall length, or cut the stitching section in half and use on both sides, which is what our tester did.

Custom Bullwhip Braided Wraps

For the best possible fit, we recommend a custom set of Bullwhip Bar Wraps. We can make them to length, without a sew-on section.

This is what we do for custom lengths of Bullwhip Braided Wraps used as leather top tube protectors in the past, with beautiful results:

A custom-made bullwhip-braided leather top tube protector shown with our Bicycle Frame Handle.

Best Leather Wraps for Bullhorn Bars

Braided leather bar wraps for bullhorn and other handlebars is definitely an option, but as you've read here, there are a few things to think about before making the plunge.

For an easier time, our Sew-on Leather Bar Wraps and our Coil Leather Bar Wraps both work "out of the box" for wrapping bullhorn bars.

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