He may not have invented the idea, but I think Grant Peterson of Bridgestone/Rivendell Bicycles can be credited with the handlebar shellac revival. Since then, everybody from Out Your Back Door, to Bike Villa to Lovely Bicycle has given it a try and handed out DIY advice on what I consider to be a modification of dubious benefit. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge beetle fan. Afterall, beetles are arthropods and so the most abundant animals on the planet. And shellac is made from beetle secretions (to be polite) and denatured alcohol. Who doesn’t like the beetles and alcohol?
I love shellac for all kinds of things. Well, mostly for finishing wood. OK, just for finishing wood if you don’t count Steve Albini’s band. If you count that, I like listening to Shellac when I am feeling like rocking out while getting creeped out at the same time. Albini is a disturbed musical genius, sensitive listeners would be advised to stay away. As far as shellac on handlebars goes, it makes grippy cork grips slippery when wet and turns softish bar tape hard. Those are all no nos in most books on almost every kind of vehicle/human steering interface. But you can’t go wrong with shellac for finishing your rec room walls.