july 2017

Tape your bars the right way

Remember when you were just a young grasshopper of a bike rider and you would add a new bolt on part to customize your ride? How happy you were when the assembly went easy and you didn’t lose any parts or scratch anything with a tool? Of course, we were young then and if it as long as we met the two criteria listed above, we were really stoked with ourselves. However, we get older, more knowledgeable and start learning to do things the right way.

Wrapping bars with tape doesn’t seem like something difficult enough to need an article you would think. You might be thinking wrong. Wrapping handlebars requires some practice and a lot of bike knowledge. Not only should it look clean and nice but needs to hold up to the wear and tear of riding.

Did you know?

  • There is a certain direction you should wrap each side of the bar because of the torque your hands will put on the bar tape.

  • Though the tape job looks awesome, it may not hold up to the heat from your hands or sitting in the hot sun.

  • Starting at the bar end or the middle of the bar changes how the bar tape will hold up.

  • You should know where any bar accessories would be going before wrapping your bars. (Brake levers, Bells, Speedometers).

So, you just got a new set of butterfly bars and are ready to wrap them? Or your bike is trying to recover from a wreck that shredded the bar tape and your elbow while sliding down the street? Where do you start?

Tools Needed:

  1. Bar Tape. There are hundreds of styles, materials, colors, and qualities. We deal with custom bicycles new and old so we are going to be using two packages of NOS (New Old Stock) Hunt bar tape we just so happen to have laying on a shelf. But we have done bikes in a variety of materials….even ostrich once.

  2. Bar Plugs. Also hundreds of styles, materials, colors and qualities. To keep the original look, we will be using Hunt red metalflake that came with the bar tape.

  3. Razor blade for quick, straight, clean cuts.

  4. Latex or Nytril gloves. You would be surprised how hard it is to tape handlebars with sweaty hands.

  5. Finishing tape to hold the wrap in place at the end of the wrap. I cut two pieces 10” long before starting so it is ready.

Wrapping the Rascals

When wrapping handlebars, they should be already mounted to the neck if you are using the standard style neck of the times. If you are using a bolt-together style neck, it won’t matter. I am also a fan of not having the bars on the bicycle. It is much easier to deal with the length of the bar wrap if you can move the bars around easily.

Clean your bars. The cleaner the surface is the tighter your tape will hold. We give them a good wipe down with rubbing alcohol before starting. If you are rewrapping an old set of bars a quick rub down with some 0000 steel wool will clean them up nicely while still leaving your chrome looking bright and new.

  1. During those long uphill rides the rider tends to apply torque to their handlebars through the bar wrap. If your bar wrap is on wrong with will cause it to loosen over time, look bad, and eventually fail. So, what do you do? Wrap the right side in a clockwise direction while wrapping the left side counter-clockwise.

  2. Start at the bottom of the bar end leaving about 1” of bar tape hanging past the bar end. Wrap the bar tape 3-4 times around the bar tightly.


3.    Tuck the extra 1” of bar tape into the end of the handlebar and insert the bar plug. Push the bar plug into the bar end until it stops


4.  Start wrapping the bar tape around the bar at an appropriate angle (we run about 20 degrees normally if you have enough bar tape) as to overlap the

     wrap before by 1/2. (This is a good figure for straight sections). Continue to wrap using as much tension on the tape as necessary to keep the tape

     tightbut not fully stretched. If you apply to much tension on this old bar tape, it will tear.

5.   When wrapping around curves in the bar maintain the 1/2 overlap on the outside of the curve. The inside of the curve will be much less in these areas

      but you will want to maintain the look all the way around the bars.

6.   Keep wrapping towards the bar center until you hit the stopping point and. Use the razor blade and add a small mark at the same angle with the bar

     wrap under the stopping point. Add two more full wraps.

7.   Unwrap the bar tape until you find the mark made in Step 6. Trim the excess bar tape off maintaining the line and angle marked. Wrap the bar with one

      wrap and cut the bar tape off perpendicular to the handle bar so that it finished at the bottom of the bar.


8.   Using one 8”-10” piece of finishing tape wrap the bar tape to hold it in place. Start at the bottom of the bar and wrap in the same direction as the bar

      tape. Use just enough tension to keep the tape tight. Any wrinkles or offset edges will look bad. Wrap the tape two or three times around the bar then

      cut the tap so it ends at the bottom of the bar.


9.    Now wrap the other side of the bar in a mirror image remembering the proper direction of the wrap.


And there you have it. Your bars look as good as new and you added a little custom flare to your ride.





JUNE 2017

Project: Resto-Mod TEARDOWN

Back in November of 2016 the editor of Kustomized Bicycle Magazine shared a photo of the latest magazine purchase. It is a true barn find and the pictures were taken as proof during purchase. Luckily, though it spent its life outside it was on a mostly shaded side and under a roof overhang. Of course, many seasons of weeds had made their ways through the frame and all the pliable parts were rotted this Sears Screamer was mostly in-tacked except pedals. Plans were made for the new acquisition. It is simply going to be restored and a few modern custom things added to make it the coolest bike of 1968. We coined the name at this time……Project: Resto-Mod Screamer

Since those first pictures, the Resto-Mod Screamer has been sitting in the corner of the shop collecting dust and a few swag boxes stacked on its seat. We finally got enough things complete and off our to-do list to start on this project. For the next year or so, we will be doing the restoration and modification to the classic muscle bike and have our readers following the process.

Tear Down

You cannot make something new without tearing it down. The teardown is arguably one of the most important parts of this procedure. This is where you can make existing damage worse, break parts, lose parts and should be making lists of what needs to be done and what needs to be found and purchased. We have a background in restorations of vintage / antique cars and motorcycles. Just because these are more complicated than a bicycle does not mean the rules change.

Before you start:

Use the proper tools:  You will do more damage using channel locks, vice grips and Crescent wrenches. Restorations cost money, instead of paying to fix parts you damaged using the wrong tools; Go buy the proper tools. Bearing cups are easily removed without damage using a brass drift.


Bag and Tag: The most important way to keep from losing parts (mostly small fasteners and such). Ziplock sandwich bags with a piece of paper inside clearly marked with permanent marker will save you from hours of trying to remember what is the proper rear fender screw or even having to find another rear fender screw because the original is now lost.


Pictures: If you find that something is a little technical, and remember that you will be putting all of these parts back together so pictures are a necessity. Whether it is the location of components are showing where each screw is facing, these pictures are worth more than anything. Take a lot of them as often as you feel necessary.


Penetrating Fluid: Spraying every fastener and metal on metal contact point with some kind of penetrating fluid. This particular bike is almost 50 years old and I am sure that none of these fasteners has ever been loosened. It takes time for a penetrating fluid to work so start a few weeks before planned disassembly day and spray all the areas with a quality penetrating fluid. A few days later go ahead and do it again. Over the course of a few weeks, you can spray the bicycle down 4-5 times. This will loosen up the rusted components and make them easier to remove without damage.

pb blaster.jpg


The easiest way we have found to disassemble a bicycle that will be restored is front to back.

  1. Remove the front tire. Leave the tire on the rim as an amount of protection for the steel wheel (I have a tendency of dropping things).  Always screw the axle nuts back on the axle tightly so they do not get lost.

  2. Remove anything mounted to the handlebars (i.e. brake levers, shifters, bells, horns)

  3. Remove the handlebars.

  4. Remove the stem.

  5. Remove the front fender. Bag and tag fasteners

  6. Drop the front fork. Bag and tag the headset items including bearing cups immediately.

  7. Remove any shifter mounted on the top bar and derailleur(s). Do not cut the cables. Keep everything as one assembly. I keep them for a size template when I cut new cables and housings.

  8. Remove seat and seat post. Bag and tag seat post clamp.

  9. Remove sissy bar. Bag and tag all fasteners and reflector.

  10. Loosen bottom bracket set nuts.

  11. Remove pedals.

  12. Remove crank and bottom bracket set. Bag and tag bottom bracket set including bearing cups immediately.

  13. Remove rear tire. Leave the tire on the rim as an amount of protection for the steel wheel. Always screw the axle nuts back on the axle tightly so they do not get lost.

Once everything is removed, you will instantly want to start getting the frame down to bare metal so you can perform a super cool new paint job. Not yet my friend. You are going to have to replace all the decals and they need to be in the right location for a top of the line restoration.

  1. Using a tap measure and a defined point, measure the location of all the decals that will be replaced.


  1. Take a few pictures of the paint job if there are color changes. This will aid you or your painter to get the fades and colors in the proper places.

  2. Put all of you parts into one container that will hold up to the workspace. We move things around constantly in out shop so standard cardboard boxes never hold up.  A cheap see through plastic container is the ticket.


  1. Start putting the new parts in the same container so they do not get lost. In this picture, we have the new Sears speedometer, grip tape and some other miscellaneous items that we are slowly collecting.

In an upcoming issue of Kustomized Bicycle Magazine, we will take the next steps. We will disassemble the front fork, bag and tag the components then get the frame and fork down to bare metal to see what we are dealing with. 





May 2017

Fix your flat the right way

Kustomized Bicycle Magazine has spent a lot of time in the shop showing you have to do some pretty elaborate bike building techniques. We have built custom square tube forks, laced wheels and converted vintage headlights to LED units. These are all great things to know and expands builder’s imaginations. We get many emails thanking us for the knowledge but asking for the more basic how-tos that will help the new person entering into the custom bike world.

The very first thing you need to know when owning a bike is how to fix it. They are basic machines and simple to fix without specialized tools. I will guarantee the firs thing you will need to do is fix a flat tire. Whether you picked up a thorn, pinched the tube in a hard curb check or over inflated the tube until it popped you need to fix the flat.  Now all you readers that have been around bicycles your whole life and think you know everything may also want to read this feature. It is really surprising how many people fix their flats but still do it wrong. There also may be something you didn’t know.

Proper Tube: The tube holds the air that keeps your tire inflated. The more air in the tube (measured in PSI (Pounds Per Inch)) the harder the tire is. Too little air and the tire will wear unevenly and be harder to ride because of the larger contact patch. Too much air and the ride will be harsh; traction will be minimalized due to the small contact patch and more than likely the tube will rip at the worst time. All tires and tubes have a max PSI rating. Stay under that rating and you will be fine.

Tools Needed:

Repair Stand…if you don’t have one you can always flip your bike over resting it on the seat and handlebars.

Wrench to fit the axle nuts (Do not use Crescent wrenches or vice-grips). This is optional as you may have quick-release axles.


Tire Levers

Tube (Properly Sized)

Air Pump



1.       Deflate the tube completely. You aren’t sure what the tube looks like inside the tire so deflating the tube completely is a great idea. It makes it much easier to remove the tire from the wheel, it keeps the tube out of the way so you can hopefully patch it and reuse it. While pushing the valve down you can also apply pressure to the tire, which will help push the air out.

2.       Push the tire bead off the wheel. Work your way around the wheel on both sides pushing the tire away from the wheel. This will loosen the bead from the rim. On some assemblies, we have found that the bead can be caught in the wheel because of the width of the tire and wheel combination (1.75” tires on 3” wide wheels is a great example).

3.       On the opposite side from the tube’s valve push the tie away from the wheel.  Using the spoon end of a tire lever place it in between the tire and the wheel. Using the second tire lever place it between the tire and the wheel 1”-2” inches away from the first lever. Work your way around the tire until you are able to pull the tire’s bead completely over the wheel.

(Helpful Hint: See the hook on the back of the tire lever. You can hold the lever in place while applying pressure on the tire by wrapping the tire levers hook around the spoke in line with the tire lever. You can then use the other lever to slide around the wheel between it and the tire. This will make quick work of unbeading the tire.)

4.       Starting opposite of the tube’s valve reach inside the tire and pull the tube out of the tire’s cavity. When you get to the valve reach inside and pull that valve though the wheel’s hole and remove the tube completely from the tire’s cavity.

5.       Using your hands pull the other tire bead off the wheel to completely remove the tire from the wheel. Tire levers usually aren’t necessary but if they are needed you can use them without damaging anything.


6.       Before replacing the tube you should figure out why the tube is flat. Replacing it without fixing the problem will only leave you with another flat tube. These are the usual problems causing flats.

·         Pin Hole or Holes in Tube (outside diameter): Thorn, tack, small nail. Remove items or items before replacing tube. Usually able to be patched.

·         Pin Hole or Holes in Tube (inside diameter): Rim tape torn or not covering the spoke nipple. Possibly an object inside the tire rubbing against the tube like a small rock. Usually able to be patched.

·         Small Double Slits (also known as a “snake bite”: Rim pinch. Add more are pressure to replaced tube or install wider tires and tubes. Usually able to be patched.

·         Large hole with shredded rubber: Blowout. Too much air pressure. Check wheel for damage as well. Not able to be patched.

·         Large cut : Blowout. Too much air pressure. Check wheel for damage as well. Not able to be patched.

·         Cut around valve: tube was misaligned within wheel.  Not able to be patched.


(Note: If there is no noticeable issue with the tube check the valve core inside the valve. If the valve core has started backing out of the valve it will lose air quickly.


7.       If you haven’t found the problem with the tube by looking at it then inflate the tube to twice its non-pressurized circumference.  

8.       Rotate the tube around the perimeter keeping it close to your ear. You can usually hear the hissing of the air.

9.       If you can’t hear the leak, fill a container of water large enough to press the inflated tube into. Submerge the entire tube under water (you can do this in sections) until you find the leak. The leak will be very visible as bubbles will lead you to the puncture.

10.   If the tube’s issue is repairable, dry the tube off with a shop towel and mark the location of the hole on the tube with a marker. Make your location marks far enough away from the hole as to not sand the marks off when you rough up the area for a patch.


Now that you have found the source of the problem you need to find the problem itself. Your tire is not only there for stability and traction but it is supposed to protect the tube. For 4 out of 6 of the problems listed above there is an effect to the tire’s casing.

·         Pin Hole or Holes in Tube (outside diameter): Inspect the inside of the tire’s casing for thorns, tacks or nails. Feel the inside of the tires casing with your fingers looking for any issue.  If you can’t find any problems, use a ball of toilet paper and rube it around the inside of the tire’s casing. The toilet paper will rip on anything sharp enough to poke through a tire’s tube. Remove the issue, whether you can pull out a thorn with your fingers or have to use plyers to remove a nail.  Usually the tire is reusable.

(Note: If you find one thorn, there is a very good possibility that there are more. Check closely and if you find one keep looking for more.)

·         Small Double Slits (also known as a “snake bite”: Check the tire’s casing for larger punctures or a crushed bead. Larger holes in a tire’s casing will tear open quickly while riding and a crushed bead won’t seat correctly. Replace the tire.

·         Large hole with shredded rubber or Large Cut: Check the tire for any holes or tear. An over pressurized tube has enough pressure when it fails to blow a hole through a normal bicycle tire. If there is any issue, replace the tire.

(Note: If your tire is older, you should check the tire for wear, thin spots in the tread area, tears in the sidewall and tears in the beads. If your tire has any of these issues, you are putting that new tube at risk)


So you had a hole in your tube but it was on the inside diameter.

·         All rims should have a rim strip. The rim strip is a piece of rubber that wraps around the inside of the wheel covering the spoke nipples. Make sure your rim strip is clean, is covering the spoke nipples, is free from holes and is on the rim without any creases.

·         Squeeze all of the spokes together with your fingers. Look for movement at the nipple. Loose spokes can make the spoke’s nipple wear a hole in the rim strip and possibly into the tube as well.


Either is fine. If a tube is repairable then don’t waste it. If the tube needs replaced, they are cheap enough that it hopefully won’t break the bank.  We aren’t going to tell you what to do but remember, there is nothing worse than putting a new tube in and having it loose pressure half a block away.



11.   Look at the sidewall of your tire. If the tire is a directional tire it will have arrows printed indicating the rotation of the wheel. if you are fixing a back wheel or have a single sided disk brake you need to make sure the rotation is correct.

12.   Remove the valve stem cap from the new tube and inflate the tube with just enough air to hold its shape.

13.   Install the tube into the inside cavity of the tire. The valve should be adjacent to the air pressure recommendations printed on the tire’s sidewall.

(Note: this is an old real bike shop mechanic’s trick. If the valve is adjacent to the pressure recommendations, you never have to look for it. )


14.   Place the wheel perpendicular to the ground with the valve hole at 12:00. Lower the tube and tire combination onto the wheel with the tube’s valve into the wheel’s valve hole. Screw the valve cap back onto the valve. Make sure the valve is pointed straight towards the hub. A crooked valve will be cut by the wheel valve hole and eventually and lead to another flat.

15.   Start installing the bead closest to you. Work the tire bead over the wheel with your hands. Usually the first bead will be very easy. You can use a tire lever as a last resort but be very careful not to either pinch the tube between the tire lever and the tire or wheel.

16.   Turn the wheel so the other bead is now facing you. Do the same as instruction 15.

17.   Inspect both sides of the tire’s bead area. There should be no tube showing between the tire and wheel and the tire should be close to concentric to the wheel.

18.   Remove the valve cap and inflate the tire to a low pressure and inspect the bead area again. The tire should be nearly perfectly concentric to the wheel.  If it is not, you can let some air out of the tube and adjust the tire. Inflate the tire again and recheck.

(Note: Most tires have a small molding line at or right above the tire’s bead. The distance from the rim to this molding line will show the concentricity of the tire to the wheel.)

19.   Inflate the tire in 5 PSI increments until the just under the desired pressure.  Quickly inspect the bead area to insure that the tire’s bead is locked into the wheel.  If there are any bulges in the bead area deflate the tire, push the bead area back into the wheel and slowly inflate again.

tire presssure grid.jpg

20.   Inflate to full pressure and check with a pressure gauge. If the pressure is correct replace the valve cap and recheck the bead area. If the bead is locked into the wheel, you can install the wheel onto the bicycle.





aPRIL 2017

pack your bags

Spring has finally unleashed itself from the chains of winter. For most of us that means it is time to pull out your favorite bicycle and hit the pavement with your friends for those epic rides that we have been dreaming about during the cold months.

So, what do you need to keep rolling instead of waiting on the side of the road for a lift home?

We talked to several riders what they think is a necessity and asked them to open their ride packs. Surprisingly, most didn’t have packed what they thought they did. Maybe they just forgot? Used it on the last ride and forgot to replace it? Loaned it to another downed rider and didn’t get it back?

Below is a list of everything you need to have packed and with you on your ride. We are talking NEED. Breath mints for picking up the members of the opposite sex is a great thing to have but you don’t actually NEED them.

Check your pack against this list. Print this list and put it on the shop wall and check it before every ride. The ride you save may be your own.

1.    Tubes and Patch kit. You should have at least one tube in your pack. Tubes are easier and faster to replace than patching one. You don’t want to be “that guy” that is holding up the ride because you have some off the wall tire size that no one has a tube for. Patch kits take up such a small space that there is no reason not to have one and if you have a double flat you are still covered. The glueless patches work well and will also save you some time and mess. They won’t hold up permanently like one using a vulcanizing compound but will get you home.

“I have had a tire air down and it took minutes to swap tubes. At the next stop, I patched the leaking tube and put it back in my pack just in case”, says one rider.

Another said “I carry a tube in my size and a 27.5 as a spare. It can be used for both 26” and 29” wheels and will get you home”… Those in the know call those  “loaner tube”.


2.    Pump. You can’t fix a flat without a pump. There are two types that will do the job. The CO2 inflater is a great way to air up but most of them are a one-shot deal per cartridge. The cartridges can’t be recycled so they aren’t as “green” as a stick style pump. If you carry and inflator, double check that you have several full cartridges. The stick style pumps work well and are small and light. They will wear you out if you are filling a 29”x3” but your buddies are with you so take turns then buy them a beverage of their choice at the next stop. There is also a little gadget called the “outlaw pump”. We aren’t saying the wont give you a bad mojo but to each their own. Take to pump heads and put 24” of flexible air tube between them and use crimp sleeves to connect them. If you have a flat and need some air it is as simple as pulling up next to a car and hooking a pump head to your tire and the other pump head to the cars tire…(KBM doesn’t condone such actions).


3.    Tire levers. You won’t need the items above if you can’t get the tire off your wheel. The Park Tool Tire Lever Set TL-1 is just what you need. It comes with three levers that snap together for easy and tight storage in your pack. They are made of plastic and aren’t the strongest ones built but at $3.00 a set you really can’t go wrong. You may have one on your multi-tool but we have found that they are less than effective and can damage those polished rims.

“I forgot my tire levers on one ride and ended up using a stick and a screwdriver. The stick punctured the new tube while seating the tire and the screwdriver scratched up my polished aluminum rims”, said one interviewee.


4.    Tool Kit. While you are bored at home on a snowy night take all the tools out of your bag and see if you can loosen or tighten every nut, bolt and screw on your bike. Your tool kit isn’t complete without a:

Tri hex wrench

Flat screw driver

Spoke wrench

Wrenches to fit your axle nuts, seat post clamp, seat frame, shifter adjuster and bottom bracket.


multi tool.jpg

Multi tools are great and everyone should have one or two. But they don’t have everything you need to fix your bike. Most multi tools have a T25 torx, flathead and Philips screwdrivers, and at least 2.5 3,4,5,6 and 8mm Allen keys, and the most common spoke tool sizes See what your multi tool doesn’t have and pack those items.

“The worst ride I ever went on was actually a great ride until the seat frame bolt came loose and my seat just flopped around. Ten miles from home and I had to make it back never sitting down. My legs hated me”, a rider replied.


5.    Chain Tool.  A lot of multi tools have them but most don’t work or try to remove the good layers of skin on your fingers trying to use them. Even the cheap Bell chain tools work well enough to fix a broken chain once, so pick one up and pack it. Streched cruisers have long chains that were put together from several others. They are more prone to breaking than your standard factory chain.

“Have you ever tried to pound a chain pin in with a big rock?  I have. It didn’t work”, says a rider with a green mowhawk…..


6.    Extra chain and a master link. So, you break your chain and have a chain tool but don’t have enough adjustment at your back wheel to just take a couple links out to fix it? Bring 6-8 inches of chain and a master link. With the chain tool this should get you out of any bind and back home without pushing your ride.


“My chain came apart flying down Las Vegas Blvd on a Friday night. I called my wife at the Golden Nugget who had one to many, so she had to send her dad to get my truck from the valet then drive to the Wynn to pick up my super long streched cruiser”, said the Kustomized Bicycle Magazine editor. 


7.    Zip-ties. Broken fender strut? Broken spoke that is flying around scratching up your paint? Even a broken shoe lace? Zip-ties can get you out of a bind and back on the road. You can pack 10-12 and be care free.. Mostly.   

“I hit a curb wrong while avoiding an unleashed dog. Went down pretty hard and tried to save my custom bike so I caught myself with both hands. Broke my middle finger in the process. We pulled the 8mm wrench from my bag and three zip-ties and splinted the finger. It was a clean break and I ended up never going to the doctor. My finger healed up perfectly.” – says one rider.


8.    Duct tape.  Yes, duct tape. Not a whole roll though. That would be much to heavy and large. 3-4 feet of duct tape wrapped around a plastic marker will be more than enough.

“I have seen people use duct tape inside handle bar clamps, holding seats on and on the inside of tires to keep the tube in when there was a sidewall rip.”


9.    Headlight / tail light. How many times have we told our significant other that we be on a ride with friends for “a few hours”? After the third stop, two flat tires and one single buddy trying to chase down a car full of smiles you realize that you have been gone for seven hours and now it is long past sundown? Plus, it is illegal in most states / counties / cities to not have them on after the sun sets.

“I was running down the street to the store to pick up steaks we forgot and needed for a barbeque. I ended up getting pulled over on the way home for not having lights on my bicycle. I had a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket so they impounded my bike and by the time I got out of the local police station the steaks were bad. Seven dollars in lights would have saved me fifty dollars in impound fees….for a bicycle…and twenty two dollars in steaks.”

This list is golden. Check you gear and make it home pedaling instead of pushing. Don’t forget your wallet for post ride burritos and beers. And never forget your cell phone in case of emergencies.