The handlebars on a mountain bike make or break the riding experience. Beginners don't realise just how important handlebar positioning is until they are all achy and filled with pain after their first ride. The midge bar has become the standard mountain bike handlebar. It has a short reach, which makes the drops of mountain biking less painful than with other handlebars. The midge bar has a wide centre that can hold lights and backpacks for a long ride. The grips on the midge are comfortably the right height for the short arm reach.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Utility knife
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hex wrench set
- Clean rag
- Spacer rings
- Small paint brush
- Matching paint
Cut the grips off the handlebar on the bike. Use a utility knife to cut a vertical line down the grip and then peel it off. Use rubbing alcohol to remove the adhesive residue on the grip. Twist the grip left to right until it loosens and slides off the handlebar.
Unscrew the brake levers and the shifting levers from the handlebars. Use a hex wrench. The hex bolt heads are underneath the handlebar. The goal is to let the brake and shifter slide off the handlebar, not to completely disassemble them.
Locate the hex bolt holding the handlebar in place -- it's usually in front of the handlebar stem. Completely dismantle the hex clamp holding the handlebar in place. Wipe away any dirt, oil and grime from the handlebar clamps with a clean rag.
Insert the midge bar into the clamps and tighten with the hex wrench. Adjust the height of the handlebars by putting spacer rings on the handlebar stem. The more spacers you use, the higher the handlebar sits.
Twist the hex bolt on the handle bar stem so that the midge bar is firmly in place. Slide the brake levers and shifting levers over the midge bar handles and tighten them.
Wipe down the midge bar with alcohol and let the alcohol evaporate. With a small paintbrush stroke, paint inside the grips and slide them onto the handlebar. Use the same colour paint as the bike so there is no visible sign of a different colour paint on the bike.
Tips and warnings
- If you have an air compressor, you can blow air under the grip after you make the vertical cut, and the grip will pop right off the handlebar.
- Always test the reassembly of the handlebars, the brake levers and the gear levers before going on a long bike trip. A bike accident on a highway can kill you.
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