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Swapping handlebars---tougher than it looks?

KathiCville2010-04-29 05:04:40 +0000 #1
How difficult is it to switch out handlebars? I just received from Nashbar a new and better handlebar to replace the current one on my main bike. A cycling friend who normally takes care of my bike for me was planning to do the honors, but he's not available.

It *looks* to this novice like it wouldn't terribly hard to take the old handlebar off and put the new one on. They appear to be the same width/circumference. The main difference is that the new handlebar is longer, with "ears" to the front (not drops), to give me more variation in hand position. (Sorry, I wish I had the proper terminology on the tip of my tongue! ) Otherwise, the new one appears to be similar in all other respects to the old one.

Is it really as "simple" as carefully removing the gear shifts, computer and brakes, and putting them back on in the same spots once the new handlebar is in place? Am I being naive? Are there subtle things that I'm not noticing because this is new to me? Should I just haul it into the LBS?

I'm handy, in general, with tools---a DIY type---but I've never worked on a bicycle, other than fixing flats. I have a brand spankin' new multi-tool, but haven't yet had a reason to use it. Don't even know if that's what I need to do the trick, LOL!

Thoughts? Advice? Thanks!

DebW2010-04-29 05:11:42 +0000 #2
Are you replacing a flat bar with a flat bar? Does the old bar have tape or rubber handgrips? Are the bolts you need to loosen to remove the levers easily accessible, or will you have to disconnect the brake wires to access them?
KathiCville2010-04-29 05:23:49 +0000 #3
Good questions, DebW--just the kind of insight I'm looking for. I'm not where the bicycle is at the moment, but I'll check it out later today, especially the question about access to remove things.

The current handlebar is a flat bar, if I understand the term correctly, meaning just a straight, flat handlebar with no curve to it, up, down, forward or back. It's been driving me crazy because the flat bar doesn't allow me to move around much and so my hands are going flat-out numb after 10 miles.

Here's the replacement bar (link below). Nothing fancy, but my friend thought this would be an inexpensive and serviceable replacement. The middle 7" of the new handlebar is flat, just like the old one. Then the bar gently curves up a little for about 4" on each end, and then takes a 90 degree turn away from the rider.

Edit: Hmmm, at least I think the ears are supposed to face away, right, LOL? (I'm howling with laughter here, such is my ignorance.) My MTB handlebar has ears that face out away from me, not in. I'm assuming that that's what my friend had in mind for my road bike. I have shoulder problems, so we agreed--as did the LBS where I bought the bike---to steer me clear of classic drop bars, at least for now.

I'll post more when I can look more closely at the bike.

Thanks for your help!
Zen2010-04-29 06:22:15 +0000 #4
Have you thought about just putting bar ends on your flat bar?

They would be a lot easier to install

That TT bar looks nice, though.
KathiCville2010-04-29 06:37:25 +0000 #5
Hi Zen....Good point. I remember asking my friend if we could do that (as we were looking at the Nashbar website), and I think the main reason he 'voted' against it was because the price of any of the bar ends that he liked was more than the price of the Time Trial handlebar. (Which was on sale at the time for @$23.) And since he was thinking he'd install it for me, I suspect he was probably trying to save me money.

Later edit: Ooops! I just realized that the reason we weren't going to get just the bar ends wasn't price, but the darned Ergo grips that are currently on the handlebar. He put them on for me last fall as part of our effort to deal with an ongoing shoulder problem. The Ergo grips (original model) are not built to allow you to add bar ends to them. (I think there's a newer model that has bar ends built in.)

Soooooo, if I just take off the Ergo grip---they're part of the hand-numbness problem anyway, ironically---I'll probably be good to go with just a decent set of bar ends.......And I'll return the Time Trial handlebar to Nashbar.

Thanks DebW and Zen! Problem solved much more easily than I realized once you both began asking questions...........
DebW2010-04-29 06:14:52 +0000 #6
Those TT bars are means to put you in a very low, stretch-out position, on a TT bike. See the picture here: . You'd be putting them on a more upright bike, so not sure what position you'd end up with, or how many usable hand positions there would actually be. Also, there are special brake levers, called reverse levers, made to mount on the ends of those bars and send the cable the reverse direction.

I think Zen probably has the better idea, of just adding bar ends to your current bars. But you could play with these TT bars and see how they might mount, how many hand positions you'd have, and if/how your current brake levers would mount. Might as well give it a try since you've got them.
KathiCville2010-04-29 06:04:15 +0000 #7
Good point about the resulting shift in riding position that would come from changing the bar out. I just had the bike fitted a month ago, so the fewer changes made at the moment, the better. Thanks much to both you and Zen!
elk2010-04-29 07:19:26 +0000 #8
I switched out a flat bar for an albatross and it was quite simple....except the cables were suddenly too short...and that's where I was at a loss.

Have you seen some of those videos on line about swapping bars?



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