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Old 03-08-2017, 12:06 PM   #1
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Location: Edinburg, NY
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Raising Handlebars on road bike


I recently purchase a used road bike on Craigslist. I have been using a hybrid for years. It's been 20+ years since I have ridden a road bike. I intend to use the bike for recreational rides in the Southern 'Daks. I do hope to do a century or two in the future.
My friend convinced me that I would probably get a better value for my dollar if I bought a well maintained used bike than if I bought a new one. I have very short legs and so I needed a small frame size. I found a 2012 Giant TCR Advanced 1 with an XS frame. I've included a pic of the bike.
Anyway, the person I bought if from suggested I go to a bike shop and get a professional fitting. The problem is that I spent all the money I had on the bike! But there must be gazillons of people riding around on bikes that haven't been professionally fitted for them. So, I am just going to do it myself.
I've decided I would be more comfortable if I raised the handlebars. I've watched a couple of you tube videos and it looks pretty simple. They do suggest you use a torque wrench to make sure the bolts are tightened properly. I don't have such a wrench nor would I know how to use one. Do I really need to use a torque wrench?
Later in the spring, there is a local bike shop that offers classes on bike maintenance which I plan to attend. But I would really like to go riding sooner, since the weather seems to be cooperating.
Thanks in advance for your help.

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Old 03-08-2017, 07:46 PM   #2
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I have found Blue Sky Bicycle in Saratoga very helpful. If you bring the bike with you they may be able to help you out. Doesn't hurt to ask at the service desk. They have always been very helpful whenever I had a question.
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Old 03-08-2017, 08:41 PM   #3
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I'm sorry, I'm not sure if I can help. My "new" bike is a '98 Trek 520 that I bought in 2011. I have the impression that some newer bikes may have different kinds of stem systems. The kind that I have always worked with have a wedge bolt system, and to change the height or rotation of the stem you would loosen the bolt in the center till it has risen 1/4" or so and then tap it sharply with a hammer. The stem will come loose from the fork tube. Then when you get the stem where you want it you tighten the bolt back up. This system works with matching wedges, one on the nut and one on the bottom of the stem. When the bolt is tightened the wedges are drawn past each other until they jam against the walls of the fork tube. If you have another system I wouldn't know how to adjust it. If you can take a closer photo of that part of the bike I should be able to tell.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:25 AM   #4
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Be a little careful. As Zach mentions, there are multiple headset designs, and the processes for adjusting them vary. Also, there are specification limits for how far certain components can project (like handlebar stems and seat posts). If you are not mechanically adept, I would get this done by a shop. Some things don't matter (like if your chain fails, or you get a flat tire). But some parts of your bike can create a real safety issue if you screw them up, including headsets, brakes, wheel bearings (esp. front) and seat posts.
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Old 03-09-2017, 02:29 PM   #5
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If that is a carbon bike you absolutely need to use a torgue wrench. Also I cannot tell by the picture but the stem should be just about flush with the top of the steer tube (the part of the fork that comes through the head tube, the stem clamps around the steer tube and the handle bars mount to the stem) Inside the steer tube is a compression plug that you adjust to preload the bearings in the head set. On a carbon fork with a carbon steer tube that compression plug also reinforces the area you clamp the stem to, otherwise it is possible to crush the steer tube. If you are new to carbon bikes I would highly recommend you begin a relationship with your LBS. I see you;re from Edinburg, Neal at the Bike Works in Johnstown has plenty experience with carbon and is very helpful.

That's a very nice bike BTW!
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Old 03-13-2017, 10:25 PM   #6
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Raising Hanldebars

That's a very nice bike BTW![/QUOTE]

Yes, it's carbon. Thanks! I got it for $850.00 I think they were having trouble selling in on account of the XS frame. It was really a better bike than I needed. But I spent less than I had intended to spend on a new bike. I think I got lucky.

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Old 03-26-2017, 05:03 PM   #7
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Bike fit is more important than frame material. You can really ruin your hands, knees, back and neck if you ride long miles on a poorly adjusted bike.
Equally important is getting a proper seat that fits your body and riding style. You don't mention shoes but getting your shoes set to the pedals is another important detail in establishing a proper riding position.

Assuming you have those covered, let's start with the frame.... there are three things to consider, standover, top tube and stem to achieve the correct position (45 degrees give or take). If you measured your height and wing span before you bought the frame and confirmed that the frame fits, you are good to go.

Next (assuming that you have pedals and that the cleats are correctly located) you need to establish the proper seat height. To do this you need to jockey the position of the seat (front to back) the tilt (to achieve comfort depending on your riding style, are you on the front, back etc) and finally the bend of your knee and pedal stroke. This takes a bit of gymnastics and time to correctly fit but if you want to avoid knee damage you must get this right. I use a plumb bob off the front of my knee cap dropped over the crank to the center of the pedal bolt to set this up. You will need help to do it. Be sure to be a bit loose (spin a bit) and at the right seat height to make the adjustments. You will need to move the seat tilt, rails and height to get the correct pedal stroke in the right location. If the frame fits you should still have proper riding position over the top tube when you are done. If not you may be fooling around with stems and the bar position to get dialed in. I tend to set the bars towards the end of this process. If you are moving your bars, be sure that you know what you are doing with the pre-load on your headset. It's a very common error made by folks that don't work on cycles regularly to screw up the headset pre-load and ruin the bearing play and not too tight!
As a woman you may also need to set up on narrower bars.. men tend to have wider shoulders so the bars tend to be wider. Incorrect bar width will make long miles painful and also will affect your breathing. I's pretty easy to tell if they are right or not don't just accept what's there....they need to fit. If you need to swap bars you may need to change the cable lengths and routing and re-tape. If you plan to do centuries take the time to put good tape on and think about putting some extra tape under the wrap for extra cushioning. You'll think about this on the last 10 miles of your ride.

I do my own fitting and I have fit others on bikes.. but I also build my own bikes. For someone that has not fit a bike before and for anyone planning to ride the base miles you need to do a century I think the money spent to have bike shop pro set up is money well spent. A badly fit bike will torture and hurt you.

One winter I made a few small changes on one of my bikes. I put a new seat post on it. I thought that I had it pretty well dialed in. I got out and started putting in some miles. My son needed (wanted) a car a car at school so I tossed the bike on the roof and drove up and dropped off the car. I rode home, a fairly easy 75 spring miles... halfway home my right knee started to ache. The next few weeks I had a b*tch of a time riding, constant knee pain and could barely walk. A doctor did an MRI and recommended surgery.
I decided to give the bike a rest and stopped riding for a few months. I discovered that I had the seat set-up off by about 1/4 of an inch, fixed it and started riding again...carefully.
I never had the surgery and after fixing the setup I was fine.

Ge the bike set up by a pro....
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Old 03-26-2017, 05:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Riosacandaga View Post
If that is a carbon bike you absolutely need to use a torgue wrench.
That's a very nice bike BTW!
Yes...anyone that is serious about working on bikes uses torque wrenches. They are worth every penny that they cost.
If I walk into a shop and see the mechanic working without one, I exit stage left unless I know them and that they have mad skills.
If you are familiar with the correct "feel" and can figure out how to tighten to 1/2 turn before it breaks or in the case of head sets, one turn less than before you crush it or pull the star fangled nut thingy out, you can do without...
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Old 04-01-2017, 09:28 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mgc View Post
--- or pull the star fangled nut thingy out, you can do without...
Not to excessively derail this thread, but those star fungled (yes, that's intentional) nut thingies are notorious for the dreaded headset creak. Try to sneak by on a climb...nope! The gal ahead heard you creaking for the last half mile.

At my work, we used to remove those star nuts and replace them with a custom machined insert, which we would weld in place in the steer tube.
I understand that not everyone has some 2024 T6 aluminum bar stock, an engine lather, and a TIG welder hanging around, but it's the final solution for those creaks. Uhmmm, carbon steer tubes not applicable!

And Schip, I hope you managed to raise your stem to a more suitable height.
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Old 04-13-2017, 03:02 PM   #10
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It's hard to tell in that pic, at least on my screen it's only a tiny thumnail I can't tell if you have enough tube left that you can raise the stem, or flip it to make it angle upward. It does look like a pretty aggressive road position with the bars much lower than the seat. Nice looking bike though!

But I agree if your not too familiar with this you may want to take it in. Carbon in particular will require a torque wrench, and maybe carbon paste. Almost all my bikes are steel, and with quill stems... old school but very easy to adjust up and down without needing any special tools.

But don't take my advice I am still a novice and setup all my bikes myself. I have varying frame sizes from 21-23" and varying reaches and they all seem fine to me. I think I pro fitter would laugh at me and make me leave when I came in barefoot. But centuries and multi-day trips no problem (well I've only done 1 multi-day and on the third day I was getting fatigued but it was the first time I'd done almost 300 miles in a row so I figured I was doing good!). For my touring bike I usually shoot for the bars to be pretty close to level with the seat.
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