I've been tinkering with my Bridgestone touring bike again. Since my last DIY for the leather wrapped levers, I've changed many components. Higher bars, then too high, now kinda perfect, but I wanted to try another full leather wrap again. This was done a while ago on my IRO, but I wanted to try a more substantial feel on the Bridgestone. I first wrapped the bars with cloth tape and rode that for a little bit, all the while thinking I should encase the wrap with a cushiony leather. Finally put it together last week and it feels great. Here's how I did it:
I began with a full cloth tape wrap on the handlebars, doubled up in the grip areas. Since the grip areas also cover the brake casing, it makes for a step-down to the rest of the bar. I measured the handlebar in multiple places to create a template for each radius. I cut the leather to the pattern and test fit it to make sure all dimensions would work. I also chose a somewhat stretchy leather so it would easily form around curves and ensure a tight seam at the stitch.
After the leather was cut to the pattern, I used a sewing machine to punch the holes in the material. With the largest needle I had, I 'sewed' without it being threaded just to place the holes. I suggest a rather large spacing too, mine was about 5mm.
Place the leather over the handlebars and begin loosely threading between the holes. I would hand stitch about 4-5 inches at a time, then pull the thread taut as I worked the leather into place. The stitch line is actually under the handlebars most of the way to keep the smooth surface resting against your palm, while also being more grippy on your fingers.
As you stitch through to the end, loop it a few times, tie a knot and hide it underneath the leather.