Posts Tagged ‘cork handgrips’

Cardiff cork grips with packaging

This post is in response to some blog searches on cork grips recently – it seems that there is some interest in them !  I use the Cardiff brand grips – they also make grips in wood and leather, according to their packaging. I sourced mine from Cheeky Transport in Newtown (Sydney) which is a great little bicycle commuter oriented shop that stocks many quality accessories. The grips come raw but I like to shellac them to give a warmer colour and some physical protection.  The bikes I’ve used them on are my old modified Speedwell and a restored Malvern Star, both 40-50 years old and they are among my favourite grips. They are warm with a very slight “give” and a comfortable curved shape that fits the hand easily. I am not sure whether they could be cut down for twist grip shifters though, or what to use for cutting them, perhaps I would nervously put them on a snug fitting wooden dowel, mark first (wrap around tape ?) and cut slowly and straight with a very sharp stanley knife so the end cuts meet. Good Luck, I haven’t tried it !

the raw grips

The grips are loose fitting on normal bars and need to be secured. As I may need to remove them one day, I use double sided sticky tape rather than glue, by sticking some strips of tape over the bar and peeling away, then simply pushing the grip over the tape and right on down to the bar end, which has kept them on firmly so far. If required, a small amount of shellac could be run into the tiny gap between the grip and bar to lock it on. I haven’t tried removing grips done this way but it should, I hope, be possible.

part way through the process

Remember to check that everything is fitted on the bars and you are happy before doing the final fit as obviously it is a hassle to add or remove accessories unless they have split clamps like the brake levers on my Speedwell. A split clamping handlebar stem would be preferable too, but old bikes don’t seem to have them.  I usually give my grips about  8-10 thin coats of shellac with a 3/4 inch brush, sometimes with a couple of drops of maple wood stain added to give a brown rather than yellow tint. The grips will need to be supported, e.g. on an old set of bars while staining, and the shellac can be recoated fairly quickly but make sure it is dry first as you get a blotchy effect if the coating below is still damp and it is partially dragged off – I try coating about every 15 minutes on a dry warm day. Shellac wears off eventually and needs to be recoated after a period of time – any scuff marks back to the cork can be touched up with a few coats on a fine brush.

Split clamps on the alloy polygon levers - Speedwell.

Clean the brushes in methylated spirit, which you will also need if you have bought the shellac in flake form as it is the solvent. If you find the grips too slippery or too dark in colour they can be sanded back a little with fine sandpaper and lightly recoated. This slipperiness is only a problem for me when wearing Damart gloves, so I use the ones with no fingers to get some skin grip on the shellac – luckily I don’t live in a very cold place.

on a coaster braked Malvern Star

Happy Cycling.


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The paintwork is now close to completion and re-assembly has begun. I have decided not to use the original drop handlebars as they are not going to be comfortable for me and I dislike the look of them turned upside-down as upright bars. So I will fit Velo Orange alloy “Tourist” bars instead with the “Cardiff” brand cork hand grips now stained fairly dark. Cork grips can be slightly slippery with shellac on them, but I love the warm feel that they have .

I am hoping that the coaster brake is sufficient, as the front forks aren’t drilled for rim brakes. I am also going to refit the mudguards (fenders) as I feel that a bike is not really complete without them – I am on the lookout for a suitable chain guard too. The large star motifs are quite imposing in red and white on black and were well worth the effort to paint them as accurately as I could.

Here are some details of the bottom bracket with new bearings, a N.O.S. (new – old stock ) locking ring and an exact replacement Partridge oil cap, courtesy of my (long) late grandfather’s box of bike bits. This magic box also contained some of the the tiny chain wheel bolts, an exact new Brampton top steering head race and a set of “new” original mudguard stay clamps..

I am pleased with the colour, though it’s not exactly how I imagined it would be. I have also added some gold lining (in my shaky hand) and hope it’s not too much. I imagined this bike as quite traditional looking, something that would not be out of place on a “tweed ride” … but perhaps it will be a little bit jazzier than that ?

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