Quick tip: Accurately align handlebars

It’s funny how the small things can make such a difference to comfort when cycling. One thing that would get me a bit frustrated was riding along with the feeling my handlebars weren’t straight. In fairness to the handlebars it was probably me not riding straight, apparently none of us do to varying degrees.

In the big scheme of things it probably matters little. I am sure most of us are able to compensate accordingly without too of a much problem. But why ride with another thing to overcome, we’re cycling for optimal performance! A Formula 1 team I’m sure doesn’t align the steering wheel by eye, sending Lewis Hamilton out with a “that’s about right” and a pat on the back.

I tend to notice miss-alignment more if the base bar isn’t straight on my time trial bike. I think it’s because of the forward riding position a greater proportion of my weight is supported by the bars. This makes steering more responsive and amplifies imperfections in alignment. Plus riding on your forearms you’ve removed the wrist and elbow joints that would otherwise assist in compensating.

Anyway, I’ve spent far too long in the past straightening handlebars and still never end up being 100% that my approximation was correct. So the handy solution was found when I mentioned it to my Dad. He came up with the solution immediately. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it too!

It’s simple:

  1. Loosen off the stem bolts. Have the top cap bolt tightened correctly.
  2. Remove front wheel
  3. Put a straight object like a spirit level or broom handle against the front forks
  4. Eye ball from above that the bars run parallel
  5. If off adjust.
  6. When happy tighten up the stem bolts.

It’s a simple thing but works really well.

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