Mountain biking is a great sport that is both fun and adventurous. If you like to ride your bike throughout the mountains, it is important to know how to raise the handlebars on your bike.
When it comes to customizing your bike to fit your needs, what’s better than to adjust the handlebar height. As it helps maximize comfort, control, and safety on trails.
There are a few different methods for raising handlebars on a mountain bike. These methods depend on the type of handlebar set up your bike has i.e Threaded or Threadless seam.
But in general, the process of raising the handlebar requires you to lose the bolts securing the handlebar, adjusting its height, and then securing it back together.
Generally speaking, raising the handle bar brings it closer, thus reducing stress on your back, wrists and shoulders. This makes the position more comfortable and versatile.
On other hand lowering the handlebar helps improve traction offering better control and maneuverability for the same effort. Don’t know how to raise the bars or how to adjust them?
In this article, we will help you with that! Here you will find a step-by-step guide on how to adjust the bars on both bikes. So grab your Allen’s key or wrench and let us begin!
Why Raise Your Handlebars?
There are a number of reason for which one may need to raise his or her handle bar. This may include one personal preference for the level of comfort and maneuverability or to adjust for the growing height.
For example I personally prefer my handlebars just low enough to offer better aerodynamics, feels easier to control but is equally comfortable with a higher visibility.
Here is the list of the most common reasons why one may need to raise the handlebar:
1. lot’s of Discomfort and Health Issue
A lot many trail riders complains of discomfort, back pain, numbness and neck issues. They might look unrelated but they all are issues caused due to improper handlebar positions.
When the handlebar is positioned much lower than the seat you are required to lean forward to reach it. While it helps with aerodynamics it put stress on your back muscles. If you ride for long hours it can unsurprisingly lead to mild to severe back pain.
The only healthy way to lean forward cycling is by pivoting the hip while maintaining a neutral spine. But if the handlebar is much below you may need to arch at high angles.
Not just it affects your back but also leads to neck issues. Keeping a fairly straight line between your hips and your shoulders help minimize these negative effects. While bringing your shoulders away from your ears allows a more relaxed ride with better head movement.
2. Improve Visibility and Head Movement
Mountain bikes by design feature a handlebar fitted slightly lower than the seat. When its too low one may require to hunch over to operate, thus restricting clear vision ahead. In regards to efficiency, it will cost you speed and power as you are restricted by your head movement.
The proper position of a mountain bike rider should be as such to allow for maximum vision and grip with a slight hunch forward to account for your desired center of gravity.
Raise the handlebar if you feel restricted field of visibility or its too low to operate with full control on yourself. A little drop may be helpful with traction but it should never be at the cost of proper vision.
Having an improper vision can soon become a liability to yourself and those around you. Thus always maintain a good riding position that helps reduce the amount and severity of accidents.
3. Get Maximum Bike Performance
Most riders adjust their handlebars to gain a comfortable position, greater control, traction, and increased viability. This ensures safe and easy navigation through trails maximizing your performance.
When your bike fits you with right gears and handlebar positions, you feel more confident and comfortable achieving goals regardless of what the trail throws at you.
This is why professional riders prefer a suitable type and size of handlebar made for the terrain. At times you may require to replace it for being too wide or narrow for the rider.
Adjusting your handlebars is thus a part of regular maintenance especially if you care about the details. You should never go with a handlebar that is too low, loose or super high on a trail. This will only cause discomfort and may even leads to unnecessary accidents.
4. Maintain Usefulness For Growing Kids
Does your child have a love for trails? As a dad, you take a huge risk on bicycle-size buying, as for a child or teenager the mountain bike may quickly becoming obsolete.
Now to maintain usefulness of these bikes for your child most dad like you needs to adjust the the handlebar. Sometimes they need to raise the both ( handlebar & seat ) to accommodate for the growth.
Ideally, handlebars to be raised once per year to ensure the usefulness of the mountain bike for your child. However, you may be required to adjust it more frequently to account for your child’s rate of growth. Children between 8-12 years old generally grow faster than those between 12-16 years.
Further, you may also need to adjust the height as you grew older. Those who are aging beyond the ’50s may require to lower the handlebar each 3rd year or so to account for the reducing height.
This is why it is a good idea to raise the bars on your bike. Now that we got the reasons why it is important to raise the handlebars, let us get into how to raise the bars on your mountain bike!
How To Raise The Handlebars On Mountain Bike
Now that you have determined to raise the handlebar, let’s figure out what type of mountain bike you have or at least the type of handlebar it has. Not all mountain bikes have the same handlebar, most use either of these two types; one with the threaded seam and the other without.
The type of handle bar your bike has will impact the steps followed and your ability to raise the handlebar. For example tread less handlebars offers just a limited change in length.
You would probably need to buy a new one to go beyond a fixed length. While with the threaded seam type you have much more flexibility and are easier to adjust.
We Recommend: Funn Black Ace Carbon MTB Handlebar
But how do you identify between these two types?
Threadless Headset System: This is the type of system most found in modern mountain bikes. They can be identified by one large bolt on top with two smaller ones at the bottom. Here you won’t find one continuous metal piece that connects the handlebar but the bolts that do most of the attachment.
Threaded Headset System: Only 20% of all mountain bikes produced today holds this type. While for the older mountain bikes this is the only headset system. These can be identified by continuous piece of metal connecting the handlebar with a single large bolt at the top stem.
Raising Handlebars With Threadless Headset Seam
Now it is time to grab your Allen key to raise the handlebars. Using the Allen key, remove the long bolt from the stem cap. Once you remove the long bolt, set aside both items until you ready to use them (the stem cap and long bolt). Put both in a place where it is easy to find them.
Now use the Allen key on both of the smaller bolts on the threadless headset seam. Once you take the small bolts off, you should be able to completely remove the handlebars. Be careful when doing this step.
Now add spacers to the main tube. Once you properly put the spacers on, return to the stem cap and long bolt. Put them back into their proper place.
Now loosen the handlebars until it feels like you can move them freely.
There you go, these are the easy steps to do when raising or adjusting the handlebars if your bike a threadless headset seam. Now if your bike is a threaded headset seam, it has fewer steps but still requires some work. Here are the steps for threaded headset seam bikes.
Raising Handlebars With Threaded Headset Seam
To raise the handlebars on a mountain bike with threaded seam, we first loosen the top bolt on the threaded headset seam. Once you loosen the top bolt, the continuous metal piece is free to move up and down.
Once this has been done, loosen the locknut using a wrench. If you loosen it enough, pull the stem free from the bike. Keep in mind what position you want the handlebars to be, as you would not want to pull it out all together. Raise to height what is appropriate for your needs.
Once you figure out the fourth step, assemble it all back together. Reattach the stem. Now its the time to remove some extra grease that you may find on the steam.
In case you find there is too little grease you may need to apply some. From there, you should be able to adjust the handlebars of any kind on your mountain bike.
How High Should My Handlebars Be?
Now that you know what steps to take when adjusting the handlebars, how do you find the perfect adjustment for you? The important factor with bars is that they must align with the rest of the bike. Other than aligning correctly, here some other guidelines to follow when adjusting.
The height of the bars should be guided according to your body. You should do what feels natural for your bike, riding condition, and body. Adjust the bars depending on what feels natural and practical for you.
If you still haven’t found the perfect adjustment for your mountain bike, keep trying the steps we mentioned above until you find the right adjustment.
Having perfectly lined bars is essential before bike riding in the mountains. Failure in doing so will result in injury or it won’t be ready for the roads.
The bar height determines where your weight sits on the bike. For example, if you raise the handlebar your weight will shift to the rear wheel. In general, the handlebar should be kept about as high you kept the saddle. But you can use the bar height position at your advantage.
For cross country and other racing events where speed matters lowering handlebars gonna put you in a more aerodynamic position, thus offering more speed.
Similarly, for downhill rides, steep hills, rough terrain and gravel roads raising handlebars give you more stability. But most riders still prefer a 50/50 weight distribution punting handlebar somewhere in the middle. So it assists with the uphill efforts (speed ) while not being out of control riding down.
Finding The Best Size For Mountain Bikes:
If you want to find a size that fits accordingly with your bike, the best advice is to talk to a bike expert or a person who works at a local bike shop. In fact, I did the same first time I raise the handlebars.
There are two factors to remember when finding a bike handle: the sweep and the rise.
The rise is the part of the bike that is located at the center of the bar and the stem. These are the parts that are attached to the bike. Most mountain bikes have flat bars, so it is most likely you are looking for a rise that is zero. However, there are some bikes that require a hundred MM or four inches.
Now for the sweeping aspect, there are two things to look for when buying one: upsweep and backsweep. Upsweep are bars that are at a vertical angle and are measured by the grip.
This impacts the comfort the rider needs when riding the bike.
Backsweeps measures the angle formed by the curvature of the bars. These bars range from zero to forty-five. There are three different measurements of sweepers you can buy: 25.4mm, 31.8mm, and 35mm. If you find the right size for your bike, it is time to begin the process of adjusting!
But I personally feel 80s/90s MTB quill stems have major advantages over modern ones; in terms of ease of customization and the ability to turn them by 90 degrees which makes them easier to store.
Ready to Raise the Handlebars?
So now you know how to raise the handlebars with just a spanner and Allen’s key. You have also learned about its advantages and common reasons for doing it.
It’s finally time to implement what all you have learned so far in this guide to raise the handlebars on mountain bikes. To raise your handlebar all you need is an Allen key, a wrench ( for older models of mountain bikes ), spacers and some precious time to make it happen.
As a final reminder when adjusting the handlebar, do not fix it to the max or minimum height on some gut feeling. Instead pick one that best suit you and your needs.
Try to test more than one position, comparing their plus and minuses to get the most out of your time. If you learn anything from this blog I hope you enjoy making your bike more yours.