Twining Bars

If you are familiar with Rivendell, you know about twining bars.  Twining bars goes with Rivendell in the same way that upon learning I am vegan, people bring up tofu.  There is one difference.  Although I eat tofu, I don’t consider it essential.  Twining bars  is essential.  I will not spend 10 minutes wrapping bars with fresh and pretty new cotton or cork wrap and then finish the job with electrical tape.  It would be wrong.  Ugly and wrong.  Unless I am wrapping bars on a modern racing bicycle.  They are supposed to be ugly.  I mean light.


I still remember when, in my pre-twining days, I was delighted to discover electrical tape came in more than one color (black).  Recently I found hemp twine in all sorts of colors.  Check it out!


[Note to self:  Do not Google a topic while composing a post lest you find someone wrote about the same thing two years ago and that someone was Dave Moulton!  From now on I will blindly blog away, adding to the billions of pages, redundancy be damned!]

While I haven’t used any of the wonderful colors in the big spools, I have used the black and the red which I got in very short lengths at a hobby store.


I am so in love with the black on black on black color scheme on my CB-0.  I will ride that bicycle until all oppressed people are free (or some such Johnny Cash pledge).  Notice the picture is outside.  That means the bicycle is in the garage and easy enough to move outside simply to take a picture of its twine job.  It was in the garage because I rode it recently.  Maybe even often.  Not a big deal if you bicycle a lot and have only a few bicycles.  I ride a little most days but I have, ahem, too many bicycles.  So it is a big deal to have ridden a particular bicycle.  A special endorsement of its usefulness.


The red on white cork looks great on this Bridgestone Grand Velo 3000.  If you are tall and want to buy it, let me know.  It is sort of for sale.  It is a 58 cm.  Too big for me.  I bought it to build up to sell.  Only I did too good of a job and sort of fell in love with it.  Not sure I want to sell it.  Twist my arm.  Price on request.  It is that special.  Note the picture is inside.  Where the Grand Velo stays.  Better for me to gaze upon its beauty.  Or for safe keeping until you buy it, you tallish person, you.

I bought my first ball of hemp twine for bar twining from Rivendell.  It is almost gone.  That’s my first ball in the picture above, on the left.  The small one.  I bought two at the time (and the second one is also pictured, on the right).  I have twined dozens of my bars and bars for friends in that natural color and I am still on my first ball.  Maybe when I finish that first ball I can consider myself proficient.  Just kidding.  It is super easy.  Rivendell might suggest you cover wrap and twine with shellac.  They may even sell you shellac.  Shellac is made from bugs.  Gross.  Not nice, either.  Shellac is not necessary.  Skip it.

I really should dig up an old Rivendell Reader and find out, then share with you, the history of twining handlebars.  Has to be in there.  Comments to Dave Moulton‘s post suggest the process was used by sailors.  Sailors are always loving on their knots.  Dave and maybe those sailors called it cord whipping.  Too violent, poor cord, so let’s stick with twining.  Apparently good for rugs, too.

Maybe after I post this piece when you Google “history of twining handlebars” you may get my site, in addition to Dave’s.  If that is how google works.  Maybe I should make something up.  Anyway, I am sure there is a history, pre-Rivendell.  Even before the Bridgestone Owners Bunch.  Gasp!  Could not have been Grant’s invention.  It is just too perfectly ye olde even for him.  No doubt all handlebars were finished in this fashion say, before electrical wiring was common in homes (and so before there was electrical tape within reach of every bicycle mechanic).

I will be more than happy to show you how to twine your bars, and even supply the twine.  My stock will turn to dust before I get to use it all!  Just stop by.  I am itching to use the purple.  Lacey has a purple bike but I already used natural.  Winter is coming.  Plenty of time to redo it.

If you are not local, you can learn to twine bars here.

Have fun.  I once twined an entire water bottle cage.  I won’t show it to you.  It is really sick in a bad way.  It took a really long time and looks like something you’d find at a Pier One, on deep discount.  Stick to handlebars.  Makes ’em pretty or at least more sailor like.   Arrgghh.


5 responses to “Twining Bars

  1. Hi Randal! I’m excited to hear about twining bars. I’m replacing my bike (I don’t know whether I can call it my bike anymore, as it was stolen last week) and I’m imagining different combinations of components, colors and all that. My bike was black, with black bar tape secured with black electrical tape (which was ugly and sticky and coming off), and whatever bike I end up on will definitely have twine on the tape!

    • Thanks for reading my post and taking the time to write. Very sorry to hear about your loss! Any hope that you will get your bicycle back? We have an active group of bicycle advocates here locally and when bicycles are stolen folks often send notes to list serves with pictures. A few bicycles have been recovered this way. In any event, let me know if you want help picking out a bicycle. I really enjoy helping people pick out bicycles. Also, glad to introduce you to twining and to hear you like the look. Electrical tape is easy, but just a few more minutes and a ball of hemp twine pays big dividends. Good luck.

  2. I’m considering my bicycle gone forever. I live in LA and it could be anywhere. I filed a police report, but someone who lives across town could have bought it off the thieves and be riding around and I’d never know. I’ve posted to a local bike blog with pictures just in case.

    And I would absolutely love advice about choosing a new bicycle! Maybe I’ll write you an email, because this could get to be a really long string of comments. I read your blurb on bicycle-buying when Lagusta posted it on her blog and I like what you said, and I think maybe you’ve spent more time nerding out over bikes than I have. I spent several months learning all I could about bicycles before and after I bought my Soma Double-Cross in 2005 (my stolen bike), but I haven’t read much since then. I really want to find a good vintage frame and build it up with parts that I want, and more knowledge would definitely help me.

  3. Nice, Randy! When I rewrap my bars this season, I’ll be sure to be in touch. This way I can take a look at the Bridgestone as well.

    • Thanks for looking and writing! Be careful if you look upon the beauty of the Grand Velo. You will not be able to resist!

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