Saturday, July 10, 2010

Shellac'ing Cloth Handlebar Tape

I've quickly become a fan of shellac on cloth handlebar tape. Not only does it give a nice aesthetic appeal, but it gives grip and feels comfortable. I've also become a fan of matching colors on other parts of a bicycle.

For this project, I had a beautifully reconditioned Vetta saddle commissioned through Lugs ( & This saddle had a beautiful, deep red color that I wished to match with red cloth handlebar tape.
You can purchase shellac at any hardware store and will come in clear and amber hues. These will give drastically different shades. I sampled both before starting. The clear shellac didn't give me a deep red that I needed, yet the amber shellac gave too deep a color.

Here are the freshly wrapped handlebars before any shellac was applied.

I decided to try a first coat of clear shellac. The first coat will soak in quite a bit of shellac and will lay a nice base for the next coats. A nice thick layer of clear shellac deepened the bright red color, but not quite enough.

I then added a coat of amber to deepen the red. Any subsequent coats will not affect the color as drastically as the first, so I figured I could add amber coats until the desired hue was achieved. One coat of amber was all I needed. I then added a couple more coats of clear shellac to get the grip I wanted.

And finally, the completed build with a perfect color match of saddle and cloth tape, utilizing both clear and amber shellacs.


  1. I've been shellacking cork wrap as of late, but am interested in cloth in part due to the color options. How does the cloth tape feel/hold up compared to cork?

  2. Personally, I love the feel of shellac on cloth tape. Cloth tape will last a very long time with shellac on it, much longer than shellac'd cork tape. You can also play around with the color combinations as the cloth tape absorbs shellac and you can use some color theory to get a very specific color.