ultraclyde PowerDork
10/19/19 5:32 p.m.

I've really been digging on the vintage style gravel and any-road bikes from people like Crust bikes lately. My commuter/gravel bike is a Trek 920,  which is decidedly new school. Matte army green frame with an odd kinked top tube to clear 3 bottle mounts, black components, mtb drive train on bar ends.

I decided to try rewrapping the bars with old school cotton tape and shellacking it. This is hard core retrogrouch territory, but it creates a unique look that goes well with the Brooks leather saddle and gumwall tires.

The race bikes back in the day ran shellacked cotton tape directly on the bars, which has ZERO padding. Since this bike sees rough terrain I opted to put on a layer of Cinelli cork tape first, then wrap over it. 

Then I added 2 colors of Newbaum's cotton tape. This is the first time I've used it, and first time I've done a 2 color wrap.

I bought 2 colors of shellac at the local hardware store, clear and amber. There are several shades out there and they can be applied over different tape colors for a myriad of final colors. I tested the shellac on scrap pieces of tape on a spare set of bars.

I decided I liked the look and feel of 3 coats of amber. Over the last couple days I put 3 coats on the tape, letting it dry well between coats. Then i swapped out the stock black rubber hoods on my TRP Hylex brakes for a set of Gum colored ones.

I love it. It's got this great depth of color like oiled leather. Like honey and bourbon. It should wear in for even more character, and it looks so cool with the saddle and tires.

I thought you guys might like seeing the process.

Ransom UltimaDork
10/19/19 6:17 p.m.

That looks pretty cool!

I was familiar with the old cotton and ribbon tapes, but didn't know about shellacking the cotton...

ultraclyde PowerDork
10/19/19 6:49 p.m.

When I read about it I was like 

Wait, Wut?

But dissolved shells of the lac beetle. It's a thing.

maj75 HalfDork
10/19/19 7:40 p.m.

Back in the day, I used to use the black cotton tape, but I never heard of shellacking it.  What is the reason for shellac?  Doesn’t it make the bars less grippy?

ultraclyde PowerDork
10/19/19 8:15 p.m.

It makes them more durable, waterproofs them, and changes the grip feel. Fewer coats is sandpaper rough, more coats eventually reaches slick gloss. I've seen photos of shellacked bars that over a decade old and look perfect despite lots of riding.

Plus it looks cool.

donalson PowerDork
12/2/19 7:37 p.m.

the saddle a selle anatomica? how clyde are you? those grips look great... dig the look


ultraclyde PowerDork
12/3/19 5:40 a.m.

In reply to donalson :

I'm not just clyde...

I. Am.   ULTRACLYDE!!!!!

Sorry, I've waited years for that. My screen name comes from the fact that I'm WAY over the clyde mark. 

And no, it's a Brooks Professional. Like a B17 but narrower and slightly thicker leather. I love it but it does take some break in.

I tried a Selle Anatomica X and it stretched out too fast and was too wide.


ultraclyde PowerDork
12/3/19 5:42 a.m.

And just for kicks here's a glamour shot from last weekend...

93EXCivic MegaDork
12/4/19 1:05 p.m.

Cool. I was considering getting some of the Velo Orange Comfy cotton wrap to do the same thing on my 26in drop bar project.

93EXCivic MegaDork
12/20/19 12:20 p.m.

How are you liking this wrap?

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