How to Raise the Handle Bars on Your Bike




So your riding along and after a bit, your back and neck really start aching. You start wondering what's wrong on your bike, well guess what's your problem? It's that your handle bars are just too low.

In this inscrutable i'll fix just that. So you can be on your way in no time with no aches or pains!

Note: Not all handle can be raised, some manufactures weld them so they won't move, it does prevent wheel wobble but so does just doing it properly.

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Step 1: Tools You'll Need

I'm trying to make this as easy as possible, so you only need 2 tools for this project. There are special bike wrenches you can buy but not everyone has those kicking around so these tools will do just the same.

-Adjustable wrench (or any wrench big enough)
-Allen key

Step 2: Removing the Stem Bolt

First, your going to take that Allen key and loosen the stem bolt enough to take right out.

Tip: Make sure your Allen key is the correct size because you could strip the hole very easily.

Step 3: Loosen Top Nut

There will be two nuts to loosen, loosen the top one first.

Step 4: Loosen the Second Nut

The title say it all, just loosen it up to the first one.

Step 5: PUULL!

Hold onto the tire with your feel and legs and pull upward on the handle bars. Sometimes it might take a bit of wrenching on the handlebars, you can use a bit of WD-40 but not to much, otherwise you'll have to re-grease your bearings.

Step 6: Tighten

Tighten everything back good and tight, you don't want it coming apart while you ride!

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14 Discussions


4 years ago on Introduction

Wrong, wrong, wrong! For a quill stem-the type shown in photo. You do not want to unscrew the the headset nut-the large nut at the top of the headtube where the stem comes out. That large nut holds the headset bearings in place and has nothing to do with stem height. What you want to do its loosen the singel allen bolt at the top of the stem 2 turns then gently tap it downward with a hammer. This will loosen the wedge at the bottom of the stem that holds it to the forks steerer tube. Then you can raise or lower it, and then retighten the allen bolt. Three.very important details to remember: 1. Do not overtighten that allen bolt-it can damage the steerer tube. Check that it is tight enough by standing in front of bike holding front wheel between your legs and giving the bars a good strong turn. The wheel and bars should move together-if it slips, tighten bolt up a bit more. 2.Do not raise your stem past the minimum insertion line. This line is on the stem where it inserts into the fork steerer tube. If you see it, you are to high. 3. This is a quill stem, but many stems now are the aheadset type and are installed and adjusted completely differently. You must be clear about which type is which and what you are doing, or else your stem could pop of while riding-which could could cause serious injury or even be fatal. Take it to a shop if you are not absolutely clear about what you are doing-I've seen too many people muck about with these thing and no idea they were doing it completely wrong.

3 replies

Reply 2 years ago

well I found out the hard way-- I followed the above directions-- and no way I could get the long screw back in-- -- had to flip the bike-- remove front tire-- get a long hunk of iron and pop the keeper out--- then I fugured out how high I could get it-- placed all together outside the bike-- slipped er in the hole and tightened all up-- sheesh -- wish I had read the comments before I began...


3 years ago

We just bought a supercycle and it doesn't have adjustable handlebar. does this seem normal?


3 years ago

Please heed the advice of dmarzani1 below.


4 years ago

Almost ruined my bike to your inept advice- just have to losen first Allen nut!!!


4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the warning dmarzani1. My daughters bike ia quill stem-the type adjusted just like you said. If I had taken the screw rightout with the allen key the wedge would have dropped out and there is no need to loosen the nuts. Easy job realy with the right instructions.


5 years ago on Introduction

Excellent and clear set of well written instructions with clear sharp photos that really make it obvious exactly what you are supposed to do and what tools you need even if you have limited technical and/or English reading skills. A big thank you to The Bike Guy for putting it all together and offering it to everyone free and readily assessible. It may sound just sooo nooby and obvious, but I totally missed that there was a stem bolt and wondered why no amount of loosening and huffing and puffing with the nuts further down was making no difference. And of course like Bike Guy said, having worked through this guide I've not only been able to fix my bike, but also have been able to address the neck and back aches I was feeling, so there it is, turns out this was a medical and physio guide as well as a bike fixing one! LOL.


8 years ago on Introduction

Steps 3, 4, and parts of 1 and 6 are irrelevant. the nuts control the bearings, and the bolt (usually a 6mm head) controls the stem. loosen the bolt a couple of turns, tap it with a hammer lightly, pull (paying attention to the minimum insertion line), then re-tighten.
If you tighten everything back "good and tight," the bearing will be tight and you won't be able to turn. Only a good bike mechanic knows how tight everything needs to be, so it's best to take it to a bike shop, not risk messing something up.
The handlebars are an integral part of the safety of the bicycle, and by doing this, you risk compromising the entire steering assembly.

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

This instructable is wrong, yaman.cool63 is correct. There is no need to loosen the headset locknut or the adjustable race. If you do loosen, them, do not make it "good and tight" this is a good way to ruin a headset. The adjustable race should be just tight enough to remove any play. The tricky part is to get this after the locknut is tightened down, it will often make the preload higher putting the headset under too much preload.

To raise or lower the stem, you just need to loosen the bolt on the quill stem. This is attached to either a wedge or an expander nut. Don't take it completely out, just loosen it, otherwise the wedge or nut will come off. They sometimes stick, so a tap will help to loosen the wedge or nut.

As mentioned by plasticbiker, don't go above the minimum insertion mark, seriously bad things can happen. Also, don't lower it too far, steerer tubes are butted and if you go too far down, you will be tightening the stem in the butted area and it can come loose, again bad things will happen. This is more of a problem on smaller bikes, with short head tubes.


8 years ago on Step 4

I'm sorry.....did I miss a step somewhere??

If you cannot raise the stem enough to relieve back or neck pain & finger numbness, you can replace the handlebars. this is more complicated than just raising the stem, but cheaper than replacing the whole bike with another style. Three years ago I replaced a straight bar on my Trek with a deep V-bar to alleviate back & hand pain, raising the handle position by 6-7 inches. This required also replacing the brake & shift cable with longer cables. I actually had the bike shop do this for me, but could have done it myself if I had the tools & free time. The down side is that the bike is no longer good for lumpy, sandy off-road bike trails. The upside is that it is comfortable for 99% of the riding I do on streets & bike paths towing a 50-lb trailer. An added bonus was that my then-15 yr old bike-thrashing son declared it too uncool to swipe when his bike was broken.


8 years ago on Introduction

Make sure that the Minimum insertion line on the stem is covered by the top of headset. Failure to do so could result in the stem bending or breaking.