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How to Replace Bicycle Handle Bars

Learn how to replace handle bars from Silk Road Cycles' Brendon Nicholas in this Howcast bicycle repair and maintenance video.


We're going to talk about replacing handlebars. This could be quite an involved process. You may want to talk to a professional, because there are different size clamps, different size stems, different size handlebars, all different types of things.

I'll show you two examples here. This is a more modern road bike style handlebar. What that means is this sizing is 31.8 right here at the clamp on the stem. It's really easy to remove. It has a full faceplate here. You just take off all four of these screws. The whole thing comes off. The only thing that's attaching it are the cables. Then you can install a new bar by taking off everything other than cables and redoing the Allen or hex bolts here, which are just 4 millimeter.

So, this is 31.8. This is 25.4. Then there's 26.0. Basically what those are is the millimeter of how round it is around the clamp. Probably the most common is 25.4 and 31.8. The 26.0 is not used that much, but it's definitely one of the more popular ones.

Taking off this one was really easy. Taking off this one is a little harder. This is a quill stem. With a quill stem what you're going to need to do is undo this bolt right here which is just a 6 millimeter bolt. Sometimes you have to use a wrench. There are a couple of different types that you have to do. Then you have to actually slide the bar all the way through, because it doesn't have a faceplate that comes off. A nice thing to use is a spanner wrench so you can push that. You put it in between the gap here and push the stem opening open a little more so you don't scratch your handlebar too much.

To take off these grips you just use an Allen key to take off, but sometimes with rubber grips you can use hairspray and spray it inside the grip and it pulls right off. Also use hairspray to install it back on. Wait about thirty minutes and it seizes up really nice. Also, to take off all the shifters and brakes it's usually hex or Allen keys.

When you're installing a new handlebar you want to make sure that not only the clamp size on the stem is correct but also the clamp size where you're putting the shifters and the brake levers. Obviously, this brake lever right here is a much larger clamp than this brake lever right here. You may want to ask a professional mechanic what size brake lever you'll need for each handlebar.

With the two different styles of handlebars that I have right here obviously one is a cruiser bike and the other one is more like a road bike. There are tons and tons of different styles of handlebars. It's more about your comfort and what style of riding you're going to be doing. If you have a drop bar like this it allows you to do sprints, meaning go really fast, get more aerodynamic, get lower, and be more aggressive. When you have a handlebar like this you're much more upright, so you can look around, see cars really easily, and see pedestrians. You're usually not going far distances. So, it's more about preference about where you want your hands, how wide your handlebar's going to be, and things like that when you're choosing a handlebar.

That's basically what you'll need to know to install a new handlebar onto your bicycle. You may want to get a set of calipers or borrow a set of calibers which'll basically tell you the sizing of each bar.

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