Raising handlebar height



blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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Dear all,
As a new member, this is my first post. I am a 50+ years old guy, with a good mechanical background.
My wife and I recently bought bikes and took them to France with us - we have been hiring bikes so often recently, it seemed daft not to buy our own.
We bought Carrera bikes from Halfords -and before anyone jumps on my throat and tells me that we shouldn't have - We are happy with them. Both ride well, are smooth and Halfords set them up for us really nicely.
Neither of us has owned bikes for 30+ years, so we had to go get everything in "one hit" as it were...
Both bikes with helmets, racks, tools, pump, spare tubes, bags for the racks, mudguards etc cost us less than £700 total, so although I know you get what you pay for, (we are not professional cyclists or commuters) - we use them intermittently for leisure so they will do the job for us I'm sure.
Lots of enjoyable kilometres ridden in the south of France this holiday has highlighted one thing however - we would both like the handlebars to be higher.
Halfords say that the bars can't be raised due to the headstock being a "cartridge system" - Can anyone offer any advice on this? - Is it possible to fit different bars or headstock assembly?
Any help would really be appreciated, please bear in mind that we are not dedicated road or mountain bikers - we would just like the bars to be say, 6" higher to ease the load on the geriatric wrists a bit!
Look forward to your advice.
Many thanks,
W.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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WITHOUT knowing what your specific bikes look like OR the types of handlebars they have, the short answer is "Yes, the handlebars can be raised."

Things to consider ...

  • to possibly flip your current stem upside-down (depending on the stem which is currently on your bike, this may add about one-or-two inches) of course, many times the stem is already oriented to provide the greater amount of rise in which case you would install a DIFFERENT STEM which has more rise
[*] OR, a Hi-Rise stem (sets then handlebar 2+ inches above a horizontal stem)
[*] OR, you can install a stem extender
[*] OR, presuming your bikes have FLAT handlebars, you can simply install a handlebar which itself has more rise

NOW, the probable difficulty which you might encounter is the brake and/or derailleur cables being too short AFTER extending the reach ...

Not to worry. THAT is easily remedied with replacing the cable housing which is between the brake/shift lever(s) & its/(their) first cable stop on the frame (for the rear brake or rear derailleur cable) or to the brake caliper (for the front caliper or derailleur).

Since you have two bikes which 'I' will presume are different sizes, YOU would simply use the cables (and, housing) from your bike (which I presume is larger than your wife's) for your wife's bike AND THEN install appropriately longer cables & housing on YOUR bike AFTER you determine the amount of rise you want.

  • the greatest amouint of rise will be acheived if you install "Stingray"/(chopper) Monkey Bars ... (this option will give you more than 6" of additional rise)
  • BMX bars have more rise than MTB handlebars (this will give you almost the amount of rise which you think you want to have AND be the avenue which 'I' would probably investigate before the fore mentioned stem options) BMX bars are available in both alloy & steel
  • the worst-case-scenario is that you would have to order the handlebars from the US (www.danscomp.com)
 

ambal

Well-Known Member
Oct 15, 2010
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Can you post a photo of your bike so we can see the current set up?
 

blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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Trying to post a photo but the little box saying "One Moment" doesn't appear to want to go away!
The bikes are:
Mine = Carrera Subway, 20" frame, HB 575 rims and disc brakes.
Wife's = Carrera Crossfire 2 Ladies frame, 70C rims and disc brakes.
The headstock assembly has the legend "Cartridge System" printed on it and is identical on both frames.

 

steve

Administrator
Staff member
Aug 12, 2001
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Originally Posted by blooperflute75 .

Trying to post a photo but the little box saying "One Moment" doesn't appear to want to go away!
Hi there

I have attached the image you managed to upload to your gallery. If it's not the right one for this thread please let me know and I can fix it for you.
 

alienator

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2004
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If that picture is indeed your setup, then all you need to do is get a steering stem (i.e., the thing to which the handlebars are bolted) with more rise. Rise is a measure of the angle between the stem and a line perpendicular to the bike's head tube. Certainly a bike shop can help you and make the change for you, but it's also not difficult to make the change yourself assuming you have a few simple tools.
 

blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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The photo is the right one - Very many thanks for sorting that out for me!
Thanks for the advice - I can go look for a steering stem - now I know what it is called!
30 years ago since I last "tinkered" with bikes, but as an engineer, fitting new parts isn't a problem.
Thanks again everyone for all your help.
Regards,
W
 

dabac

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2003
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Do read up on the procedure though. You will need to set the bearing preload, which isn't an entirely obvious process.

A riser stem won't give that much rise though, and it's common to want the bars both higher and closer. Have a look at "steerer tube extender" as well.
 

blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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Thanks again for all the help!
- My local bike shop has offered a couple of potential components - As soon as I get them fitted, I'll post pictures.
regards,
W
 

blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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Many thanks for all the help and advice.
Both bikes are now sorted, and I was able to go to the shop armed with the knowledge of exactly what I wanted.
- Had to replace two cables on my bike - Front brake and front (crank) sprocket gear change - I'm sure someone will tell me what the correct name for the latter is!
Thanks again for all the help. I'm glad I found this forum and joined!

Regards,
W

 

dabac

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2003
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Wow, that's a scary amount of extension. I'm sure it'll be OK for casual riding, but you've probably voided all kinds of warranties - if something should happen. And of course the fashionistas will have a field day with it.

Somewhere down the line you might consider replacing that bike with a Townie. It'd lend itself to that kind of riding position much easier.
 

blooperflute75

New Member
Jun 24, 2013
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Not really knowing much about the different types of bike (and probably not getting the right advice in the first place) led me to buy the bike I have.
I understand what you say about the amount of extension, and the warranty!
Yesterday I rode over to see my parents and used a mixture of off-road cycle tracks (National routes 5 and 55), dirt track and road.
Total distance 20 miles with some serious hills (one in particular, I'd forgotten just how steep and long, since I hadn't cycled it for 38 years!) and I was still comfortable at the end of it.
The legs held up well for a beginner I think, the padded shorts kept all the bitz in good nick and the bike handled well, coping with everything I threw at it.
I used the runkeeper app on my smartphone to track the journey and found that I averaged 4min 15sec per Kilometer - does that sound ok to the more experienced folks?
Bear in mind I'm not a sprinter or an endurance rider, I'm doing it for fun (and exercise) I used to run a lot, but the knees are a bit shot, and the low impact of cycling is ideal for me now.
The one disadvantage I did find is that the height of the bars means that it is difficult to get through the inward-angled gate things at the entry/exit of the national cycle routes. - Presumably these things are used country wide?

regards,
W
 

dabac

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2003
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Originally Posted by blooperflute75 .

Not really knowing much about the different types of bike (and probably not getting the right advice in the first place) led me to buy the bike I have.
I understand what you say about the amount of extension, and the warranty!
Yesterday I rode over to see my parents and used a mixture of off-road cycle tracks (National routes 5 and 55), dirt track and road.
Total distance 20 miles with some serious hills (one in particular, I'd forgotten just how steep and long, since I hadn't cycled it for 38 years!) and I was still comfortable at the end of it.
The legs held up well for a beginner I think, the padded shorts kept all the bitz in good nick and the bike handled well, coping with everything I threw at it.
I used the runkeeper app on my smartphone to track the journey and found that I averaged 4min 15sec per Kilometer - does that sound ok to the more experienced folks?
Bear in mind I'm not a sprinter or an endurance rider, I'm doing it for fun (and exercise) I used to run a lot, but the knees are a bit shot, and the low impact of cycling is ideal for me now.
The one disadvantage I did find is that the height of the bars means that it is difficult to get through the inward-angled gate things at the entry/exit of the national cycle routes. - Presumably these things are used country wide?

Well, unfortunately the overwhelming majority of the bike industry insists on there being an infallible link between the riding position a person want, and the weight of the bike, and the quality of the components. If you want comfy upright riding, you're expected to put up with water pipe frames and basic components.
I sidestepped the issue when I built a bike for my SO, starting with a MTB frame sized "small". Extra tall quill stem, retrofitted threaded fork, and a back swept bar. Townie riding position, at 30% less weight and a far bigger gearing range.

Four minutes to the kilometer translates to 15 KMH, or just shy of 10 MPH. If that's fast or slow compared to some magical average doesn't really matters unless you plan to join group rides.
But if you want some numbers:
- I get about 23 KMH for urban riding,
- 28 KMH on the open road.
- off-road, it pretty much stops being fun if the average speed drops below 12 KMH. That usually indicates excessive amounts of bike carrying.
 

mateee

New Member
Aug 31, 2013
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hi thats what my wife and i want to do what was the ending cost to get sorted ?
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
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Originally Posted by mateee .

hi thats what my wife and i want to do what was the ending cost to get sorted ?
I suspect that if you already have two bikes & if you can DIY, then it will simply be the cost of the two extenders ...

  • possibly, new cables/housing if the current cables/housing are not long enough ... you can probably re-use the REAR cables-and-housing for the front
  • and simply have buy new cables/housing for the rear

If you do not have any bikes OR if you are planning to cobble two bikes from-the-ground-up in the manner which dabac did, then your cost will be dependent on the quality of frame/fork & components you want AND how wise a shopper you are ...

  • allow $600-to-$6000 for frame & components
  • allow about $150 for a shop to cobble each bike together if you cannot DIY

BTW. I don't know how tall dabac is. I am going to presume that by his remark that he chose a "small" MTB frame that he would normally have chosen a "medium" frame but that he chose a "small" frame to achieve a shorter effective top tube; so, a "small" frame probably shouldn't necessarily be taken as being suitable for either you or your wife.
 

mpre53

Well-Known Member
Feb 20, 2013
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Cape Cod, MA, USA
Quote: Originally Posted by dabac .
And of course the fashionistas will have a field day with it.


Yeah, around these parts, someone would be bound to say "down periscope" as he passed a rider with that set-up.

Me? Whatever makes your ride more enjoyable, is fine with me, except I can't help silently chuckling at the guy riding 12 mph on a bike path with aero bars.