Loose or troublesome handlebars on a bicycle can lead to a serious accident on the road. However, with a little basic knowledge, handlebars are relatively easy to fix. Handlebars are either threadless or threaded and each style has its own set of problems and demands different repairs.
If the handlebars are attached to the stem with a clamp you have a threadless bike. If the handlebars slide into the stem or are fastened to the stem with a face plate, you have a threaded bike.
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Things you need
- Allen key (5mm or 6mm)
- Compressed air
- Tongue and groove pliers
Remove the handlebar grips. If your handlebar grips are loose or worn, you can remove them for replacement. Use a can of compressed air to blow inside the grips to loosen them from the handlebar. They should slide off. You can also place a pair of tongue and groove pliers or an adjustable wrench against the edge of the grip. Pound against the pliers or wrench with a soft mallet until the grip comes off.
Install new handlebar grips. To install a new pair of grips, wet the handlebar and inside of the new grip with a bit of water for lubrication and slide the new grips on. Wait until they dry to ride your bicycle.
Loosen the top bolt on a threadless system. This is the first step to adjust the handlebars on a threadless system. A threadless handlebar has a bolt at the top of the stem. Locate this bolt and with a 5mm of 6mm Allen key, loosen the bolt.
Loosen the clamp bolts that hold the handlebars to the stem. Locate the clamp and you will see two bolts attaching it to the stem. Loosen these with the Allen key.
Realign the handlebars on a threadless system. Center the handlebars by either sitting on the bicycle or placing the front wheel between your two feet and twisting the handlebars until they are centred properly. Retighten the two clamp bolts and the top bolt above the stem with the Allen key.
Adjust the angle of the handlebars on a threadless system. You may be able to adjust the angle of the handlebars on a threadless stem system depending on your model. If there is an Allen bolt between the stem and the handlebars, loosen it slightly with an Allen key, tilt your handlebars to the desired angle and retighten.
Adjusting the Handlebars on a Threadless System
Locate the face plate on a threaded system. Not all threaded bicycles have a face plate. If there is a piece of metal at the centre of your handlebars attached to the stem by bolts, this is the face plate. If the face plate is loose, the handlebars can slip and vibrate.
Loosen the face plate. The face plate is connected to the stem by bolts. With an Allen key, loosen the bolts slightly. The face plate does not need to come off; it just needs to be loose enough for you to adjust the position of the handlebars.
Adjust the handlebars until they are centred. This may be easier if you are sitting on the bicycle. Once the handlebars are centred, retighten the bolts on the face with the Allen key.
Realign the handlebars on a threaded system. Locate the expansion bolt on your threaded system. Instead of a clamp and top bolt, a threaded handlebar system is attached with an expansion bolt at the top of the stem. This expansion bolt pushes a wedge or expander into the frame that prevents the stem from coming loose.
Adjust the expansion bolt on a threaded system. If there is any type of vertical shaking on the stem, tighten the expansion bolt with an Allen key by twisting it in a clockwise direction. Hold the handlebars while you are doing this to keep them aligned.
Adjusting the Handlebars on a Threaded System
Tips and warnings
- Realigning the handlebars is often easier to do while sitting on the bicycle.
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