How To Tighten Bike Handlebars | The Simple Guide

There are many cycle maintenance elements that come with owning a bike. The problem is, often these elements are overlooked. This is because not everyone is aware of how important the maintenance of certain bike parts actually is. Here at Cycle Maintenance Academy, we want to make sure that we can equip you with the basic knowledge needed to maintain your bike yourself. This will make the process more efficient for you and help to ensure your bike is safe to ride. This article will be focusing on bike handlebars, and more specifically how to tighten bike handlebars correctly. 

How To Tighten Bike Handlebars in 6 simple steps

Bike handlebars are not something that always springs to mind when you are thinking about cycle maintenance, however, they play a crucial role in the safety of your bike. Bicycle handlebars need to be tight enough to stay in position under all conditions. If they are not, then there is a chance a bolt could snap or the bars could come loose. Tightening the handlebars onto the stem of your bike can be tricky. This is because all of the bolts need to be tightened evenly. We have put together this simple guide to help you through the process.

Step 1) How to identify if the bike handlebars need tightening

The first thing you need to do is to identify whether or not your handle bars are in need of being tightened. Take a look at the front load plate that holds the handlebars in position, most commonly with 4 bolts. 

There you will notice a small gap at the top and the bottom between the plate and the rest of the stem.

If these gaps are uneven this is a sign that they may not be able to hold the bars tightly enough.

After checking the gaps on your stem you should be able to see if they need adjusting. If they do, follow these steps on how to tighten bike handlebars. 

Step 2) Loosen the bolts

Now you have identified that the handlebars are loose, while holding the handlebars, loosen the four bolts. This will mean the front load plate is no longer tight. 

Step 3) The ‘X’ pattern tightening method

After that, you can start to screw the bolts back in. We suggest doing this in an ‘’X’’ pattern. This means that when you are looking at the stem, you start with the top right hand bolt. Screw this bolt in two turns.

Next, do the exact same, this time with the bottom left hand bolt. Again, give it a couple of turns.

Then you can move back up to the top bolt on the left and screw in two turns.

Finally, you can tighten the last bolt on the bottom right in the same way. 

Step 4) Repeat 

Now repeat this exact ‘’X’’  sequence doing a few turns each time until the bars just stay in place. This is a sure fire way to ensure that your bike handle bars will be tightened equally. 

Remember, the key method here is to go round using the pattern tightening each bolt a quarter of a turn. Although you may need to do this a number of times to ensure the correct tightness, it is worth it. If you continue to follow the pattern it will save the bars coming loose or bolts snapping in the future

Step 5) Adjust the handlebars

Once the handlebars are tightened correctly you can adjust them to the right position. If you are unsure on how to do this, you’re at the right place. We have another video explaining how to adjust bike handlebars using positional markings to help. 

Step 6) The Final Step 

Now check the gaps between the plate and the main stem. They must be even at the top and bottom. If they are even, you can now make the final tighten.

  • If you are using a torque wrench to do the final tighten then set it up to the correct reading. You should find this somewhere on the stem. 
  • If you are using an allen key then give each bolt one last firm tighten. 

Check that your bars are tightened sufficiently by pushing down on the bars a few times.

If the bars stay in position then Hooray, you have completed the task of how to tighten bike handlebars correctly.

Overview Of How To Tighten Bike Handlebars Correctly

We hope this step by step simple guide on how to tighten bike handlebars correctly has helped. Stay tuned for more guides related to all of your bicycle maintenance queries. If you are wanting more detailed training we also provide beginners cycle maintenance courses. Thanks for reading.

How do I keep my handlebars from moving?

Ensure the gap at the top and bottom of the front load plate is even. If the gap is not even, you can tighten the bolts in the front plate. Follow our guide to find out how to make sure you tighten the handlebars correctly.

Why are my bike handlebars loose?

If you’re bike handlebars are loose, the reason is most likely because the bolts holding them in place have came loose. The best way to check if this is the case is by taking a look at the front load plate, there should be a gap at the top and bottom of the front load plate. If this gap is uneven, you will need to tighten your handlebars.

How to tighten bike handlebars?

Tightening the handlebars of your bike is a crucial task that must be done to ensure the safety of your bike when riding. We recommend using the ‘X’ pattern method to ensure you tighten the handlebars evenly.

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