The next step was the bar tape, I originally looked at leather tape to match the new Brooks B17 narrow I got for my birthday. However leather tape is expensive and not all that durable, what I was looking for was something that was brown, not too expensive and durable. Brown coloured cork wasn't that easy to source locally and I couldn't find any that was dark enough to match the saddle. What I eventually stumbled upon was cloth tape coloured with shellac. I had seen pictures of it done before and didn't like the look initially, however it began to grow on me. I bought some warm yellow cloth tape and gave it a shot, cloth tape is quite cheap and very grippy - my personal preference is for less padding and a more direct touch, I really dislike overly padded cork.
I followed the Velo-orange guide to shellacing bar tape here:
The first coat was quite heavy and got soaked up by the cloth tape, this took a few hours to dry completely. The next few coats started to colour the yellow tape a slight brown colour, I started to get worried because the tape would develop a whitish pasty look about 10min after a coat of shellac. I just kept on applying more coats of shellac, until one coat it started to go a solid brown colour and had a nice gloss to it. Overall it took about 8 coats, the last few were within about 30mins of each other and very thin.
Little did I know this wouldn't be the last time I fiddled with the bar tape. However I was very happy with the finish, it is quite an unforgiving bar tape though - quite hard and unyielding although it is very grippy and super durable. If it gets scratched up you can just put more shellac on it quite easily.
A few weeks later whilst driving in my car I spotted a truck in front filled to the brim with scrap metal and a big pile of bikes. At the next red light I got out of my car and asked if I could go through it, he pulled over and let me climb in and pull out whatever I want as it was otherwise going to the tip. He only asked for $10 for his time, which was fine considering the haul I got. I found some vintage Sugino super mighty track cranks, Shimano 105 golden arrow cranks, some MKS pedals and a few bits and bobs.
Initially I thought they were Shimano 600 arabesque cranks, however on closer inspection and checking the model number stamped on the back, I discovered they were 105 Golden arrow, these are virtually identical to the 600 arabesque cranks, the only difference is the stamping on near the spindle hole, otherwise the fluting and forging look identical.
Once installed they looked positively beautiful, although I found the cranks a little flexy, hard pedalling would cause the chain to rub on the front derailleur cage.
Back to the bar tape, I found a guide on how to wrap harlequin bar tape, this is basically a like a plait pattern which you can do with alternating colours. I attempted it with yellow and coffee coloured cloth tape to get a two tone brown. Believe me, this harlequin pattern stuff requires a lot of patience... It took about 1 hour each side, I had to do it very slowly and repeat several sections to get it covering the bars completely with no gaps - then I had to make sure the spacing was similar from left to right. Then I had to shellac it... Still it was definitely worth the effort as it still draws looks from lots of people
Now with the bars done nicely I still had to take care of mudguards, intially I wanted to use the bike as more of a sport oriented bike, however it became more of a do it all. I chanced upon some really cheap mudguards and some bar end shifters at the Deus Ex Machina swapmeet. During my holiday in the UK I also picked up a Carradice Barley saddlebag. I had my eye on one of these for a while as I was after some light luggage capacity, I got sick of riding with a backpack.
I had never used a traditional style saddlebag before, but once I got it I fell in love with it. The bag has a tag inside which is signed by the person who made it in Nelson, England where they have been made since the 1930's - a nice little touch. The design itself is about that old too and has changed very little since then. The material it is made of is a waxed cotton which is waterproof and very hardy, the top of the bag has a dowel which has two leather straps which loop into bag loops on your saddle (only old style saddles tend to have these). Another strap at the base of the bag wraps around the seatpost, however I also purchased a bagman expedition support, this attaches to the seatpost rails and extends out to form a little shelf for the bag to sit on and prevent from rubbing on the tyre. These style saddlebags are somewhere inbetween panniers and miniature saddlepacks - you don't need a rack for one and they are much less bulky than panniers, although they typically can't carry as much and they also put the weight higher.
Anyway that's all for now, here's some photos with all the pimpin' bits.