Having the right cycling equipment and gears ensure that you get the most out of your cycling experience, and while many tend to focus on other factors such as tyre pressure or the height of the saddle, an often overlooked part of your bike are the handlebars.
Handlebars are just as important as your saddle or drivetrain, and can make your cycling experience less than pleasurable if not properly adjusted based on your body type.
Professional cyclists normally have a dropped handlebar, so that their saddles are above the bar, but recreational cyclists normally don’t practise this pattern.
A lower bar height however can cause you to be more centred and comfortable while riding, but if it gets too low, you may have a problem controlling your bicycle.
In order to make sure you enjoy and improve your cycling experience, here are some tips on how to adjust your handlebars for your height and body type.
You will need a couple of tools to start your fixing. These include:
● A bicycle or biking gear
● Allen wrench set
● Other wrenches (normally modifiable up to 1 ½ inches)
● WD 40
● Bike Oil
● Rag or Paper Towel (to wipe away the oil)
● Bicycle Grease
You may also need a steerer extender if you are taller than the average person and need to adjust your bike to accommodate your height.
1. Ensure your bike is firmly secure on the ground, then hold it in place with your feet. Loosen the clamp bolts on the stem with an Allen wrench.
2. Remove the handlebar by twisting it in a circular motion, and pulling as you twist. If this doesn’t work, you need to slacken the locknut using a wrench, and apply WD 40 or oil to its base.
After you do this, wait a while (5 – 10 minutes on average), and hit the base with a hammer or heavy metal object. After this, try to twist and pull the handlebar out of its position again.
3. If you still have no luck removing the handlebar, get one of your cycling friends or take it to the bike shop for assistance. Your friend can help you twist and pull the handlebar until it becomes loose.
4. When you remove the stem of the handlebar from its base, wipe away any excess grease or dirt you see, then add a small layer/coat of grease or oil.
5. This part is perhaps the most important. Place the stem of the handlebar back in the base, then adjust it to your liking. Most modern comfort bikes comes with markings showing a maximum level that the stem must not be raised past. This normally requires at least 2 inches in minimum being attached to the base but can increase to make your handlebar lower.
6. After this, hold your handlebars in position and fasten the stem bolt to keep it secure.
Another easy and very effective way to adjust your handlebars is to just flip the stem. Flipping the handlebar stem can completely revolutionize the way you ride, and has been known to reduce back pains and other issues associated with cycling.
1. Place the bike firmly on the ground with a certainty of how both the handlebar angle and the lever angles align. Remove the bolts that connect the front of the stem to the handlebar, then detach the stem’s faceplate.
2. Remove the top cap from the stem, followed by bolts from the other end of the stem. After this, your stem and handlebars should have come loose.
3. Lift the stem off, flip the handlebar in the opposite direction and replace the bolts you removed before.
4. Hold your handlebars in the right position and then tighten the stem bolts on your bike.
After adjusting your bike, feel free to take it for a spin right away to see if your changes made any difference in the way you cycle.
Remember that the process will be relatively more or less easier depending on whether you have a threaded or threadless headset on your bike.
The major difference between the two is that in a threadless headset, your cycle does not use a threaded steerer tube but instead, this tube stretches from the fork, as far as the head tube.
It also goes above the headset and is secured by a clamped stem bolt.
While the adjustment may be a small inconvenience, but members of the US National Library of Medicine & National Institute of Health conducted a study highlighting the benefits of implications based on different riding patterns, and the impact that handlebars have on this process.
Simply adjusting your handlebar to fit your body and height can significantly reduce any negative issues attached to cycling, such as joint pains and back pains, but riding comfortably improves your overall health.
So whether you’re heading out for a quick night run or you cycle to work daily, use these adjustments to make you more comfortable when you cycle.
Here’s a video to get you started!