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Raise Mountain Bike Handlebar Height

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

My girlfriend would like to raise the height of her handlebars on her mountain bike. Too low, she gets a crick in her neck when riding. Won't know until we have option to experiment, but I'm, guessing she might want 2-3" additional height. She's not a frequent or hard core rider, just jaunts around town with occasional time on modest dirt paths/fire roads.

 

She has a bike she got at REI several years ago...

 

 

I'm old school, and my bikes have always had threaded headsets, which make height adjustment easy. The problem with her threadless setup is that there's no length available on the steerer tube to raise the stem/handlebars. I talked to REI, and may take the bike in to have a look with their techs and discuss options. But here's what they appear to be...

 

1) An adapter for the steerer tube which will effectively increase it's height and allow the stem/handlebars to be raised.

 

2) A different stem (fixed or adjustable angle) which will effectively raise the handlebars.

 

3) A new, longer steerer tube for the fork.

 

4) A new fork with a longer steerer tube.

 

4 is the least desirable option due to cost. 2 is not very desirable as it doesn't give much flexibility to play with height. The guy at REI didn't think 3 was really an option. The fork is a Rock Shox Indy XC. I'm just coming up to speed on this stuff, but I thought perhaps a new, longer steerer tube could be screwed/connected to the fork. Are fork steerer tubes not replaceable?

 

If 1 is an option and there are no safety issues that seems like it could be the way to go.

 

Curious what you think? Any feedback would be appreciated.

post #2 of 17

When I did that on my SS I used a stem with an angle on it and a couple shim rings.  It helped a lot. 

I'll take a picture when I get a minute. 

post #3 of 17

Stems come in varying lengths and angles. There are also inifinitely adjustable ones that have pivots that allow you to move the bar up and down. One thing to note, the closer to the axis of the steer tube that the handle bar is, the more responsive (for better or worse) that the steering actions are.

 

Edit: you know about the adjustable ones. 

 

Also, there are different shaped handle bars. Some have more 'rise' than others.

post #4 of 17

The steerer tube will require replacing the entire uppers of the fork, so steerer tube + crown + stanchions (pretty much 1/2 of the fork) not cheap or easy to find... or worth it for an old fork. Don't try to do this, it's not worth the time or effort. You CAN get a steerer tube extender cheaply and easily which will get you where you want to get to:


(just noticed your #1) There is no problem with this on roads and reasonably gentle bike 'trail' like rails-to-trails paths. I would not do this on any mountain bike trail that is even moderately technical.

 

I would go with a significantly shorter stem and a handle bar with some significant sweep, something like a Surly Open Bar is available with 40mm of rise + 53* of back sweep (you might not even need a new stem at all).

 


http://surlybikes.com/parts/handlebars/open_bar

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Appreciate all the feedback. Had to return something at REI anyway, so talked to a bike guy there and picked up a stem raiser (like what you suggested, Whiteroom).

 

 

$22. Think it will do fine.

 

http://www.rei.com/product/700227/delta-cycle-threadless-stem-riser

 

Thx again.

post #6 of 17

Something a lot of people do not consider is the negative effect a helmet visor can have on your position.  It requires you to raise your head and crick your neck to maintain visibility if your bars are low.  Sometimes simply removing the visor can resolve neck issues.  I found that I can wear the removable visor on my helmet on my mountain bike without discomfort, but not on my road bike because of the lower bar position.

post #7 of 17

Wow, I had no idea that what we used to call the "gooseneck" had gotten so much more complicated.  I feel the OP's preference though.  I always preferred a casual set up and a more vertical posture for riding off road like that of a BMX bike.  For that reason a cruiser with gears or a mountain bike with BMX bars were options I fabricated in the past.  Suck for any long distance road riding though but not a problem for downhill riding... at least for me.

 

Borrowing a photo from someone else somewhere with a similar preference..

 

 

 

Schwinn sold something similar in the early 80s.

post #8 of 17

I've been researching this subject myself, because my hands go numb after 3 min on the mtb bike. I wear gloves designed to counteract that and have Ergo grips with bar ends on my bike. I can ride my road bike for a longer period before the hands go numb. Don't get that because I'm more forward on the road bike. Very frustrating.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookieDecali View Post
 

I've been researching this subject myself, because my hands go numb after 3 min on the mtb bike. I wear gloves designed to counteract that and have Ergo grips with bar ends on my bike. I can ride my road bike for a longer period before the hands go numb. Don't get that because I'm more forward on the road bike. Very frustrating.


Do you have "flat" bars or riser bars?  Sometimes flat bars put the wrist in a bad position for some people.  Try a riser bar..you can get them fairly cheap and they're a quick swap.

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookieDecali View Post
 

I've been researching this subject myself, because my hands go numb after 3 min on the mtb bike. I wear gloves designed to counteract that and have Ergo grips with bar ends on my bike. I can ride my road bike for a longer period before the hands go numb. Don't get that because I'm more forward on the road bike. Very frustrating.


I was looking at some pictures of you riding here last year and I wonder if it would help if you changed the position of your grips so you're not getting a kink in your wrist.  I did that on one of my older bikes and felt some significant relief. 

 

If you don't mind, I can post one of those pics so you can get some feedback. 

post #11 of 17
A professional bike fit is well worth the cost if you are having physical symptoms.
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookieDecali View Post
 

I've been researching this subject myself, because my hands go numb after 3 min on the mtb bike. I wear gloves designed to counteract that and have Ergo grips with bar ends on my bike. I can ride my road bike for a longer period before the hands go numb. Don't get that because I'm more forward on the road bike. Very frustrating.

 

Check your seat.  Is it perfectly level?  A little forward tilt forces your to hold your weight back with your arms.  In your riding position you should be able to comfortably lift your hands above the bars and remain comfortably balanced on the seat.

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by skier31 View Post

A professional bike fit is well worth the cost if you are having physical symptoms.


Absolutely true and not to diminish this, but even after a good fit, some people have issues with certain bar bends etc. so you can still tinker a bit after a pro fit to fine tune comfort level for yourself.  Just to be clear, I 100% agree bike fit is extremely important!  :)

post #14 of 17

I have to add, that I do have hand/wrist issues in general, so this is likely a matter of minimizing the damages rather eliminating the problem altogether. I appreciate the suggestions and will check out  what I can do with my bike--thank you!

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
 

Schwinn sold something similar in the early 80s.

 

 

http://mombat.org/MOMBAT/BikeHistoryPages/Schwinn.html

 

Like rear entry boots, ;-), that ^^^ exact same bike would probably sell pretty well today in a lot of places.

 

 

This one's not mine, but same model was my first mountain bike back in the late 80's...

 

 

Loved that thing, rode it everywhere, on/off road. Was devastated when I came back to a parking garage to find a cut cable on the ground - gone forever!   :-(


Edited by jc-ski - 6/10/15 at 9:32am
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mudfoot View Post

 

Check your seat.  Is it perfectly level?  A little forward tilt forces your to hold your weight back with your arms.  In your riding position you should be able to comfortably lift your hands above the bars and remain comfortably balanced on the seat.

 

Fit is solving a complex equation, with many variables, including flexibility and strength in addition to dimensions of body parts. This vid is focused on road bike setup, but has some good general info - this is the section that deals with handlebar stuff...

 

 

 

Interesting comments about cycling and skiing at 39:30.

 

The whole fit process discussion kicks off about 13:10. Seat/saddle specific stuff starts at 33:00.

post #17 of 17

Update: I rode in Yosemite (mix of paved road & semi-paved old roads devolving into trail) with a different pair of gloves (Louis Garneau). That did help, all the little things add up.

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