tape, shellac, and vin ordinaire

In 1995 I purchased a Novara Randonee bicycle from REI. At that time I needed a decent bike for commuting that did not cost too much. I also wanted a bike that could be used for some touring in the future. That bike fit the bill nicely (though I never did do any touring). Over the years, however, the bike got a bit long in the tooth and the shifters ceased to function. The old Shimano RSX7 shifters do not lend themselves to easy overhauls, and my rear cog is a seven speed (which are not made anymore). I was looking at a $300 to $400 investment to get my bike working (new shifters, new back wheel, labor, etc). That was two years ago. In the mean time I found a guy that specializes in repairing Shimano RSX7 shifters for a very reasonable price. So I shipped them off, got them repaired, and re-installed them. They work great so far.

The 15 year old beast bike.
Now all I needed to do was re-tape my handlebars. I opted for classic cloth tape, wine corks in the bar ends,  twine wrapping, and shellac. I tried to follow as best I could the process that I blogged about once before. First I began by collecting two wine corks. I specifically chose a cheap French table wine from Trader Joes.

As I drank the wine I enjoyed visions of how great my bike was going to be once I taped the bars. Then I gathered my materials.

Then I taped. I have to say I did not do a great job of keeping out wrinkles. At least I will know it is hand wrapped!

The tape I chose was the super classic Velox cotton tape. It is a French tape that, I imagine, goes well with the vin ordinaire of my earlier imbibage. Then I pounded in the cork. Note: It is best to use a two-pronged style opener to get the cork out of the bottle in order to not mangle the cork.

Then I did the twine wrap. If you think this looks more like string than twine, you are correct. I bought twine but it is a sisal kind that had too many stray strands. I opted for the cleaner looking string, which is not exactly traditional, but hey.

Then I shellacked it. I used the classic Bulls Eye brand. Without really thinking it through I purchased the amber tinted kind, which turned my yellow tape to a kind of brown with a hint of orange. My goal was to have a rich yellow color, but the amber shellac made it much darker and brown.

At first I did not like the color, but then I realized that it looked a little like a honey colored leather, and similar in color to the Brooks saddle I want to purchase. The shellacked corked turned out beautiful.

I also replaced the yellow water bottle cages with black to match all the other black stuff on the bike. Here (and at the top) is the bike in the winter sun. Not bad for a first try at the old vintage style.
I still have a few more things to do with this bike. I need a better lighting system. I want generator lights front and back. I am going to raise the stem a bit. I want to put fender flaps on each fender. The bike could also use some heavier/fatter tires, but the ones it has are fine for now. Etc. But, for the most part, it is ready to go. For now it will be my commuter. In the future I hope to do some touring and some brevets. All in all I am beginning to like this bike more than I used to. I am excited to start riding it. When I ride my fixed gear bike I have to wear a pack when I take my computer, lunch, and day clothes to work. The pack gets really heavy. With this bike I can use my panniers – though I could use some new ones as well. Plus, though I really like my fixie, I have come to realize that two of the best things one can do with a bike is to shift gears and to coast.
Good riding!

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