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Aligning Handlebars

It can sometimes be difficult to get your handlebars aligned square with the front wheel; especially if the handlebar stem is tapered. Here is the way I always do it.

Hold the square end of a twelve-inch steel ruler against the center ferule of the handlebars, this gives you the long edge of the ruler to sight up with the edge of the front tire.

Reader Comments (9)

Great tip, I can't wait to try it!
I worked at bike shops for 13 years, and always had trouble with that one.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter Bob J
That's a great idea. I would sometimes spend 15 minutes eyeballing the stem and front wheel trying to get things perfectly aligned! By the way, if you're in need of new handlebars, check for bike parts including handlebars, stems, and grip tape at QBike.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter David
What a simple idea. Should be obvious but I never thought of it. I've always just eyeballed it, and half the time I hop on the bike and notice the handlebars aren't on straight.
March 21, 2007 | Unregistered Commenter Fritz
I was taught to do it by line of sight, using the front edges of the fork dropouts and the front edges of the handlebar ferrule like a pair of rifle sights. You first tighten the stem just enough to provide a bit of resistance to corrections. I don't mean to give any guff to the master, but I'd worry about holding the straight edge securely against the bar ferrule with your method.
January 14, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter Anonymous

My tuppence worth... I'll try your method the next time I need to. May I tell you the method I was shown years ago? I was shown that if you hold the bars, turn the wheel slightly towards you and look down the straightest part of the forks, then shift your eyes to the stem and the line that takes with the front tyre - somehow you can now see if the bars are properly aligned. I have just found your blog. I like that it is about bikes from the British perspective and other things you write about. I would so like to be able to write like you...
Hold on - I've just tried that out to see if I was making it up, and I'm not so sure what the forks have to do with it. If you hold your bike, turn the wheel towards you you can then see both the front of the tyre and the back (the part behind the forks) which gives the eye a much longer straight line to align the stem with. I've got a feeling I've been prattling on too much...

February 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterWrekin Chris

Or you can just convince yourself one arm is a little longer then the other and not sweat it if it's off a smidge...

September 11, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDave

I always had my handlebars aligned at the shop because even though how hard I tries to do it myself, it never worked! Thanks for this simple tip, I'll try this one too.

November 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPedals Cycling

I do mine by attaching a ruler, or anything dead straight, across the forks, just above and perpendicular to the front wheel. Then you can line up the bar ends with it. I first did it after trying to line the bars up with the wheel for about 20 minutes with no luck. The bars & the top of the forks lined up great, but the wheel was still off a bit. That's how I found out one of the front fork legs was bent backwards more than the other one.

October 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard K

My advice is to always carry the appropriately sized key for your handlebars so you can easily move things around in the middle of a boring ride where you you have nothing better to do than look at than the alignment of your handlebars.

September 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTimJ
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