How to Adjust Bike Handlebars

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How to Adjust Bike Handlebars

Bicycles are created in a variety of shapes and sizes, and although it is important to find a bike that fits well to begin with, it is also possible to make adjustments to an owned one. Setting handlebars to an appropriate height can increase the comfort of its rider, improve performance, and make riding a more enjoyable experience. In some cases, the right settings and set of handlebars can dramatically alter the feel of a bike.

Handlebars are primarily designed in two different styles, and the methods and tools needed to adjust each of them varies. Most handlebars can at least be raised or lowered, while others can also be shifted closer to or further away from the rider. One needs to determine which tools are needed to make the adjustments, and secure all components afterwards to ensure the bike remains stable and safe to ride.

Bicycles and handlebars can be purchased from bicycle specialty stores, department stores, and online retailers. Marketplaces like eBay have listings from both private and commercial retailers, and can be used to shop for a wide selection of items. Both casual and serious riders can benefit from adjustments to their bike handlebars, so begin making adjustments to find the best possible settings.

Adjust Handlebars

Adjusting the handlebars on a bicycle can be an easy process, and can usually be done with basic tools such as Allen keys and spanner wrenches. Keep in mind that the process of adjusting handlebars can vary from one product to the next, and some may require special tools or different tool sizes.

Handlebar Height

There are two primary types of handlebars: threaded and threadless. Threaded bikes have a long stem that fits into the frame of the bike, while threadless models rely on spacers to adjust the height. Learn more about the adjustment process for each type of handlebar.

Threaded

Riders should begin adjusting threaded handlebars by standing over the front wheel of the bicycle and holding it in place with their feet. Using a spanner wrench or ratchet, loosen the bolt that fastens the handlebar stem to the frame of the bicycle. It is not necessary to remove the stem bolt, only to loosen it a few turns. Twist the handlebars from side to side while pulling up until the bars turn independently of the front wheel and its fork.

Raise the handlebars to the desired height, and tighten the stem bolt. It is important to leave at least five centimetres of the stem inside the bicycle frame to ensure it stays in place. Any less could result in the handlebars coming free while riding, potentially leading to an injury. Try riding the bike to see if the bars are a suitable height, and be sure they are aligned correctly with the front tyre. This process may need to be repeated several times to find an appropriate height. 

Threadless

Threaded handlebars do not have a stem that extends into the bicycle frame. Instead, a steerer tube holds the handlebars in place along with several spacers. The spacers can be rearranged to set the handlebars at different heights on the steerer tube.

Threadless handlebars are usually adjusted with Allen keys. Begin by removing the cap at the top of the steerer tube, along with any spacers placed above the handlebars. Loosen the bolts that hold the handlebars in place, then rearrange the spacers to set the bars to the desired height. Retighten the bolts on the handlebars and the cap. Regardless of the height of the handlebars, all spacers must be used.

Height Measurements

Riders who are uncertain about how high to set their handlebars can follow some basic guidelines to help them achieve the best setting for their bicycle. The following table lists some suggested heights for handlebars in relation to the saddle.

Bike Type

Suggested Height of Handlebars

Road

3 cm above to 3 cm below saddle.

Mountain

5 cm to 10 cm below saddle.

Sport

5 cm to 10 cm below saddle.

Touring

3 cm to 5 cm below the saddle.

Keep in mind that these settings are recommendations only. Riders should experiment to find the most comfortable handlebar height for their body size, bike, and riding style.

Handlebar Angle

Some bike models allow owners to adjust the tilt, or angle, of the bars. This should be performed after the handlebar height has been set. Tipping the handlebars away increases the sharpness of the sitting angle, while bringing the handlebars nearer allows for a more upright position.

Saddle Adjustment

Once the handlebars on a bike have been adjusted, the rider may find the seat also needs to be raised or lowered. Try different combinations of saddle and handlebar heights to find the best riding position.

Adjust Stuck Handlebars

It can be difficult to loosen the handlebars on a bicycle, especially if it is old and the handlebars have never been adjusted. If the stem bolt on threaded handlebars does not come unstuck, try tapping it with a mallet. It may be necessary to wiggle the handlebars and tap the bolt stem alternately more than once. Once the stem has come free, pull the bolt out of the frame and place a few drops of lubricating oil such as WD40 to ensure it can be adjusted more easily in the future. On threaded models, try spraying the bolts with a lubricant.

Choosing Bicycles and Handlebars

When purchasing a bicycle, be sure the handlebars can be adjusted to a comfortable height. Look for products that fit well initially, and verify which types of adjustments can be made. Verify how high the handlebars can be raised, and ask if it is possible to ride the bike at different settings before committing to a purchase.

It is also possible to purchase a new stem and set of handlebars for a bike. Look for products that are appropriate for the style of riding that is performed, and select stems that can be set to a comfortable height. Choosing new handlebars and stems can greatly shift the feel of a bike, and may even save buyers money by eliminating the need for a different bicycle. 

Read Product Reviews

Websites and publications devoted to cycling often have reviews of parts and accessories. Before buying replacement handlebars, take the time to look for information about the product. If professional reviews are unavailable, look for information on shopping sites. In some cases, dozens of reviews and ratings can be found for a single product.

How to Buy Handlebars on eBay

All types of handlebars for bikes can be purchased from sellers on eBay. To find these items, begin from the home page. You may type keywords into the search field, or click on the category links. Regardless of how a search is initiated, both keywords and category links can be used to continue refining listings, and a combination of the two methods often produces the best results. For example, begin a search for aluminium handlebars by typing "aluminium handlebars" into the search field. Look for category links to help you refine listings by brands, such as Deda or Ritchey. You may also add new keywords at any time, and use category links to shop by price and product condition.

Inspect item listings to feel confident in your purchase. Look for the price of the item, and remember to include shipping charges into your estimate of the final cost. You can also find information about the shipping methods used, as well as the seller's accepted forms of payment. Read the description provided by the seller, and look for specifications from the manufacturer. Inspect all available photos, and contact the seller if you have any questions.

Sellers on eBay have a positive feedback rating that indicates the satisfaction of buyers within the past 12 months. This is shown in an item's listing, along with the user's number of completed transactions. Check these numbers to gain a quick estimate of a user's reliability, and click on sellers' names for more details about their eBay history.

Conclusion

Adjusting the height of bike handlebars can improve comfort and riding performance. Begin by determining whether the handlebars on a bike are threaded or threadless. Threaded handlebars have a stem that extends into the frame of the bicycle. The stem bolt can normally be loosened with a spanner or ratchet wrench. Twist the handlebars to loosen the stem, and move it up or down to the appropriate height. Threadless handlebars use spacers on a steerer tube to adjust the height. The cap and bolts on threadless handlebars can be loosened with Allen keys. Rearrange the spacers to find the best possible height. Always remember to tighten the bolts after adjustment to ensure a safe ride.

The height that handlebars should be set to is dependent on the type of riding that is done, as well as the size and proportions of the user. In general, handlebars should rest below the top height of the saddle, though it is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Experiment with different heights for the saddle and handlebars to find the best setup.

Handlebars can be purchased from bike specialty stores and online sellers like those on eBay. Shop around to find products that fit a specific bicycle model, and choose handlebars that can be adjusted to the desired height. When possible, look for reviews or ratings on a product to feel confident about the purchase. Making adjustments to a bicycle can greatly improve the riding experience, so find the best setup for increased performance and enjoyment.

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