If you are one of the many who enjoy cycling long distances, mountain biking across harsh terrain, or even bike rides in the park, chances are good you've spend considerable time holding onto a set of bicycle handlebars. Bikes are a huge source of fun, exercise, and enjoyment for both children and adults of all ages. With warmer weather on the way, it will not be long before the streets are again crowded with bike riders. When the time comes to take your bike out for the first ride this spring, will it be ready?
Tires are not the only thing on a bicycle that can dry rot. Many bikes have rubberized grips over their handlebars to provide a comfortable place to rest your hands while ridding. Over time these grips can weaken, in part due to dry rot but also due to age. They may flake off in chunky pieces or slough off, transferring synthetic material onto hands that could then be rubbed in eyes, mouths, or noses, which could lead to a big, uncomfortable mess. Worse yet is if the entire grip were to slip off, exposing coarse metal that could cut and injure the rider.
If your bike handlebar grips are starting to fail, you have a couple of options depending on the type and what you envision for handlebars moving forward. First of all, you can remove grips entirely or you can choose to keep them under wraps...paracord wraps, that is.
The ideal bike handlebar is one that is comfortable and does not become slick when grasped by sweaty palms. Paracord is something that can fit both of these criteria, being that it is comfortable and tacky to grip and mildew resistant upon getting wet, such as by rain water or sweat. Soaked paracord also does not become slippery, so with that in mind, why not put it on your bike handlebars to reinforce or even replace old grips?
The two best ways to give your bicycle paracord handlebar grips is through either a wrap or a cobra stitch (Solomon Bar or Portuguese Sinnet). The wrap itself is probably going to be a better choice due to the width of handle bars in comparison with the hands of users; you do not want to put so much cord on there that the handlebars become too large to fit in the rider's hands. To complete a wrap, tuck the end of the cord against the handlebars and wrap over it, creating side-by-side rungs that touch one another all the way through. When you reach the end, cut any excess and seal with a burn, bonding the end of your slack to the rung next to it. If you opt to go with a cobra stitch instead, tie the knots around the handlebars in the designated grip area and seal excess with a burn when you reach the end.
Since bike season is upon us, the time to do this is soon, before you or your children are sidelined with damaged or missing handlebar grips. As bikes sit over the winter, we may not notice dry rot occurring, so make it a point to check on that before it is time for a bike ride. Rather than have someone disappointed to find their bike in less than stellar shape after sitting all winter, spruce it up with paracord for a happy surprise instead.