Monday, November 2, 2009

Takumashi's mini makeover

I bought Takumashi, my Nishiki Citisport, with wide riser handlebars and cheap black foam grips.  I kept the riser bars for a while for two reasons... first, their width came in handy as it matched the width of the Basil Kavan panniers I had on the back.  I figured if I had wide handlebars, I'd be less likely to ride into spots that were too narrow for the bags on the back.  Second, I believe that a semi-upright position is better for me on some bikes.  Some weight on the hands seems to translate to more responsive steering and a little more agility.

But I finally gave it up.  They just weren't the right look for that bike.  I put on some north road bars from Pyramid and was very happy with the result.  My hands were back and in a comfortable position, but I still felt plenty of control.  The grips were another story.  I tried cork grips for a while, but they kind of shredded against the brake levers.  I was waiting for some Schwinn molded grips to arrive when I got impatient and decided to make my own grips out of twine.

I'd seen references to twining handlebars on Lovely Bicycle and one or two other spots, but I had not read enough to make this more than a shot in the dark.  I used ordinary garden twine, the stuff I use to tie my tomato plants to the stakes.  Here's a look at the grips up close.

First, let me say that I know the wrapping job is imperfect.  In fact, this was only going to be a trial run to see what I learned about wrapping, tying off the loose end, etc.  But, when I was done, I was fairly pleased and seriously doubted whether I'd do as good a job the second time around.  Besides, the knobby "mistakes" toward the end of the grip actually help -- they give a little extra grip to my hands when I'm riding uphill or just trying to find a bit more speed.

When all was said and done, I liked the result, as imperfect as it was.  I didn't want the twine to look too precise.  The color and fraying twine give it a kind of organic, bamboo-ish look that I like on my Japanese bike.

I was so pleased, I did the chain stay too.

Some shellac on the twine to solidify it and adhere it to the bars and I was done.

For a far less random, much more clearly thought-out primer on twining bars, see Lovely Bicycle here.


  1. LOVE the twined chainstay, that's very clever and original!

  2. Charlotte! I know you! I check your blog daily and am thrilled to see you on mine!

  3. Twine looks good but if it gets wet what about rust. I have an old Raleigh ten speed which had the wrapped drop bars and it came to me after27 years and there is a little rust where the tape let it happen. every few years remove and wax? Not sure really . Thanks Eduard on the way to Hardware store for twine and orange shellac.

  4. Ed, I used so much shellac -- and the porous hemp twine drank it in so greedily -- that it's hard to imagine water penetrating the grips at this stage. I have to admit, though, I hadn't thought about the propensity of twine grips to harbor some moisture that would turn to rust. In my case, any rust could be easily scrubbed off the stainless bars.