I Pimped Her Ride

shellac’d xtracycle goodness

It’s a tired old title cliché, but really, what else do you call such an exercise in vehicular vanity?

Regular readers may remember Anne complaining about her bike being in for service last week. I tried to remind her that other people travel to shops and pay a mechanic to accomplish the work magically completed on her bike, but apparently even that doesn’t excuse said mechanic to remove saddle and Snapdeck from her main source of transportation.

To make up for the inconvenience, as I tackled some minor tuneup tasks and installed her honey Brooks B17-s Christmas present I threw in a few stylistic upgrades:

  1. On the A-bars, the recycled (recycled, as in, previously used for years and years on another bike) rubber grips were replaced by Rivendell cork grips and lots of amber shellac. Working with shellac is nice: the warm honey color just looks right, it smells pretty good, wipes right off your hands, and brushes clean up in alcohol.cork grips
  2. The old passenger mtb stem, complete with beer can shim , was replaced with a more fitting tandem stoker stem.
  3. The old blue onza grips on the stoker’s Nitto Dove bars was swapped for a wrapping of cork road tape, hemp twine and the requisite shellac. (For the curious, I started with yellow cork tape because I heard it comes out leather looking. When you see the raw yellowness, you think there’s no way it will match the saddle, but five coats later it really looks nice.stoker controls and honey brooks
  4. As I freshened the polyurethane sealant on the tired Xtracycle Snapdeck, I decided to first lay down a coat of amber shellac. I wasn’t sure what it would do, but it really warmed up the wood, without getting too dark. I followed this with four or so coats of exterior polyurethane. By the way, If anyone at Xtracycle is reading… graying Snapdecks really look like crap. If you aren’t going to use a higher quality sealer then you should make Snapdeck decals available. Such decals would make it easy to do a yearly sand and seal with a nice enviro-friendly coating. As it stands now, if you sand at all, you quickly lose the graphics (which really complete the look) so you are forced to either go gray or use the poly-nasty stuff.
  5. And for good measure, I even polished up her battle-worn seatpost to a nice silver shine.

Overall, the results were easily worth the effort. I think it looks really good: a beautiful cargo bike for my beautiful wife.


More photos detailing the process in the buildin‘ Flickr set

6 responses to “I Pimped Her Ride

  1. Nice job. So once the shellac is dry it doesn’t rub off on your hands or become sticky?

  2. Hi David — nope, it doesn’t feel sticky or rub off once it’s all cured. It’s pretty much dry in 60 minutes but I’d allow 24 hour for a full curing.

    Apparently if your shellac goes on too thick or it’s old, there can be stickiness problems. However, multiple thin coats (with fresh shellac) you shouldn’t have that problem. I have heard stories that shellac doesn’t like extreme, concentrated heat — like a bike stored inside a hot car in direct sun — but since our Xtracycles are too big to fit in a car, I don’t worry about that 😉 I can tell you that rain is no problem!

    If you do get some funky stuff going on you can rub it down with denatured alcohol and smooth things out (for example if you end up with a sticky coat or drips). Then you just apply another thin shellac coat to seal it all up.

    Hope that helps!

  3. That sounds great. Unfortunately where I live conditions are just like being inside a hot car with the windows wound up. I don’t think this would suit our climate in Darwin but I’ll keep the idea in mind.

  4. Well, it’s pretty mild here, that’s for sure. You could run some experiments — maybe put a couple coats of shellac on some wine corks and see how they fare in the heat. Of course, that would require some extra work on your part — you’d have to empty a few wine bottles to come up with the corks!

    If you accept this mission let us know how you fare!

  5. Thanks Tim,
    Unfortunately I used up all my wine drinking tickets some time back in the 90’s but I do have some friends who’d gladly assist with the test run and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if I had to repeat the experiment a few times.
    If I can find some cork grips at my local bike store I’ll try the bottle stopper experiment first.


  6. Pingback: Hotel Sidewalk Bike Disassembly (Packing and Shipping Two Tandems) | Car Free Days

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