The handlebars on your mountain are some of the most important components when it comes to overall comfort and your riding experience. Once you receive a new mountain bike, adjusting the handlebars should be one of the first priorities. However, many people wonder how to raise handlebars on mountain bikes.
If a rider feels uncomfortable on their bike, many take to adjusting the tire pressure, saddle height, and even suspension setup. However, the handlebar could be one of the quickest adjustments you make. Once you adjust the handlebars, you will notice that you have skipped adjusting some of these other components of your bike.
To help you improve your cycling experience, we have gone out and done some in-depth research to figure out how to adjust the handlebars. We will not only be looking at the adjustment process but also take into account some of the benefits. Once you better understand the adjustment of handlebars, it should make life a bit easier.
Table of Contents
How The Handlebars Affect Your Riding Experience
To start with, we should figure out how the handlebars affect your overall cycling experience and performance. Once you understand the effects of your current handlebar position, you can consider what it would be like when it is adjusted. The following will help you understand how handlebars can affect performance and comfort:
High Handlebar Setup
Using the traditional high handlebar setup that many amateurs use when they are just starting, you will find that you often have less power. You will be raising the center of gravity and you will be placing yourself in the same position as someone riding a cruiser bike. The position the rider sits in makes it impossible to put power into the strokes.
While this might seem like the way a bike is designed, it can hamper the performance significantly and you will have plenty of troubles when it comes to overall performance and rider usability. The high handlebar setup could be frustrating for many people to deal with and might reduce the cadence of pedaling power you have.
In-Line Handlebar Setup
The most common handlebar setup for new riders would be to have the handlebars make a solid line to the saddle. The saddle will already be in line and this will ensure that you have a neutral position. You might not gain exceptional power from this position, but it does offer you some additional comfort that you could use.
Once you become accustomed to this handlebar setup, you might want to start moving the handlebars lower. Having your saddle in line with your handlebars seems to be the best experimental position for those that want some performance. The incremental changes in your handlebar should be small to give you time to adjust.
Low Handlebar Setup
If you want the most benefits from your cycling journey, you might want to inch the handlebars slightly lower than the saddle. The lower you start inching them down, the more you will feel elevated. What this position does is creates a different center of gravity. It also gives you a better-centralized position between the two wheels of the bike.
Unfortunately, you will run into a few limits and you cannot go too low with your handlebar positioning. The lower you go, the more you reduce comfort and you will also need to pedal slower to retain control over the bike. If you don’t have control over the bike, it becomes extremely dangerous to ride.
While having a low handlebar setup will allow you to push more force through the pedals, you will also need to ensure you have the best overall comfort. This might mean having different pedals. The BV Bike Shimano SPD Compatible 9/16” Pedals are some of the most useful you could consider and will certainly offer you great value for your money.
Finally, you will often notice many road bikes have a lower handlebar setup and this could be a few inches lower than the saddle in some situations. The difference is that road cyclists don’t have as many obstacles and they need more aerodynamic benefits. Having the saddle high and handlebars low will increase the functionality of the aerodynamic position as you see in the Tour de France.
How Do You Adjust Handlebar Height On A Mountain Bike
By knowing the different setups, you should have an idea of what you are aiming for. However, this means that you might need to adjust your current handlebar height. To ensure you take the correct steps in making this possible, we have set up the following guide. You can follow this to see how you might want to adjust the handlebar setup of your bike:
The Tools You Will Need
- Set of Allen Keys or a multi-tool
- Pre-set Torq Key for carbon fiber bikes or a torque wrench
- Hammer if needed
- A few stems that will use Torq Keys
These are only a few of the basics you should already have in your bike maintenance kit. The XCH Robots Bicycle Repair Bag is one of the top options and it should come with all the tools you could need to repair your bike and adjust your handlebars.
- Stabilize The Bike
The first thing you will need to do is ensure the bike is firmly placed on the ground. The wheels should not be moving, which is why a bike stand might also be a great option. Once you have it stabilized, you will start loosening the clamp bolt at the back of the stem to loosen up the handlebar and make it easier for adjustment.
- Lift The Handlebar
Once you have removed the top cap, which protects the top of the stem, you want to slide the stem off from the steerer tube. For a carbon bike, you might notice an expanding wedge and this is often referred to as the bung. Fortunately, you do not have to remove this component and 0only need access to the stem.
- Determine The Handlebar Height
Next, you will have all the components and this means you can determine how high or how low you want to place the handlebars. You should have access to a few spacers that can be added or removed. You would want to keep it at a fair ration to your saddle. The handlebar height is one of the most important adjustments you could make.
- Put The Stem Back
Once you have the optimal handlebar height, you will want to put the stem back over the steering tube. The spacers you have removed should make a nice new spot for you to place your handlebar. It should allow you to have the optimal level of comfort and ensure you have the perfect handlebar height you might be desiring.
- Replace The Bolts
Once you have your handlebar in place, you should leave a 3 to 5mm space to the top of the bolt. You will need this additional space for the top cap. Once you are done with the stem and the spacers, you can slowly put back all of these components. However, you should refrain from fully tightening the bolt.
- Align The Stem With The Front Wheel
Nothing will be more frustrating than riding a bike that is not aligned and when you have any steering issues. You must align the stem with the front wheel to ensure you have the perfect steering. Once you are sure everything is aligned correctly, you can tighten the bolts with your torque wrench.
- Ensure Everything Is Fastened
Before you set out on your next cycling journey, you should make sure that all the components are correctly fastened. One way of testing this is to put plenty of weight on the handlebars and front wheel and push them into the ground. You can then start turning the handlebars in each direction tee if they remain in place. Do not press too hard to bend the handlebar.
Flipping The Stem
For some riders, the handlebar angle might be a bit off and when you purchase a brand new mountain bike, the handlebar will be set up in a positive position. With your handlebars in a positive position, you can only lower your handlebar height to a certain degree. However, if you flip the stem, you could easily place the handlebars in a negative rising position.
You would want to use some masking tape to make a mental note of the handlebar angle and this can be done by having the front wheel firmly on the ground and using the masking tape to make a mental note of the angle.
Once you have the angle of the handlebars, the want to loosen the bolts that hold it together and remove the stem. Once you have adjusted or removed the remaining spacers, you can flip the stem and slide it back onto the steering tube.
If you have it set up at the correct angle, your handlebar should form a negative rising shape and this will be what we see on many different road bikes. To complete the swopping process, you can replace all the components and use the same steps to ensure everything is correctly fastened. It should give your bike a new feel.
Unfortunately, the negative rise handlebar is not always practical for mountain bike riders and it could often be frustrating to ride with your bike in this position. It might be useful for aerodynamics when going downhill, but you can lack some stability going up a hill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you have your handlebar in the correct and comfortable position, your cycling experience should be a bit better. To ensure you get the best value for your money, we have done some additional research and found a few common questions. Now, you should have all the information to help you set up your handlebar in the best and most comfortable position:
Do The Handlebars Make A Difference?
The handlebars can make more of a difference than you might ever know. Having a high handlebar can ruin the power output of your performance and this will frustrate you when you are going up slopes. You also lack the aerodynamic body position of riders with a lower handlebar. The more you adjust your handlebar, the better your performance should become.
Can I Adjust My Bike Handlebar At Home?
One of the main benefits of the handlebar is that is one of those components that you could easily adjust. You don’t need excessive tools and most of the basic tools found in the bike repair kits will give you everything you need. Additionally, you don’t need any support and this is one of those endeavors that you can do on your own.
How Long Does It Take To Adjust Mountain Bike Handlebar?
Depending on how skilled you are with the right tools, you should be able to make the adjustments as needed for your handlebar in a matter of minutes. However, if something goes wrong or if you misplace some of the components, it could take you far longer to replace or adjust your handlebar. If you don’t trust your skills, you can also have it done at professional cycle shops. However, this can be expensive.
How To Raise Handlebars On Mountain Bike Summary
If you are to improve your cycling performance and place yourself in a position of improvement, the handlebars on your mountain bike could make a big difference. Once you understand how to raise handlebars on a mountain bike, you will know how to drop them as well. We would always recommend adjusting them downwards for better performance.