handlebars and tape and getting shellacked

Starting sometime in high school or college I began my amateurish and neophyte forays into homespun bicycle maintenance. (I will not relate how I used a gas station air pump to duly pop my bicycle tire or how I still have the crescent moon scars on the back of my hand from getting my skin caught in the chainring.) Eventually, as is the case with both the neophyte and the seasoned pro, I faced the daunting task of re-taping my handlebars.

At the time I had a mid-seventies Motobecane 10-speed. I wish I still had that bike, or at least the frame and the Brooks saddle, but it was eventually stolen. I had begun the slow process of upgrading the components to better quality used parts. When it came to taping the bars, however, I knew I was going back in time. Cloth tape was what I had available to me. Later I “upgraded” to fake cork tape. And since I like how things go together I observed how the tape had been wrapped as I carefully unwound it from my cheap drop-style bars. Needless to say, my first wrapping jobs were a little painful and produced mixed results. I knew nothing of double or triple wrapping, or of shellacking the tape. I’m not too bad at taping handlebars now, but as I am waiting for my ancient 7-speed shifters on my ancient Novara Randonee (shouldn’t that be “Randonnée”?) to get repaired I am staring at another pair of naked handlebars hanging in my studio. Maybe I will try some of the great (and classic) ideas presented in the videos below.

I found this video via Rivendell Bicycle Works. I love the craftsmanship and attention to detail, especially the final steps of the twining. Just beautiful.

This second video gives a more complete process from wrapping to shellacking. The quality of the video and the craftsmanship are a little less than the above video, mainly because I want to see more closeups and the wrapping doesn’t look as neatly done, but you still get the idea. Two things that I love here is the use of real corks in the bar ends and the important use of mixed drinks to complete the process.

My plan is two-fold: 1) I will try cloth tape again, probably double wrap the bars and use twine. I will then shellac the tape and see how the whole thing pans out. I am still not decided on what color tape I will use. 2) Learn how to make a good martini.

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