The other day I mounted the handlebars on both my wife’s bike as well as my own. Why? Give this post a read and you’ll know why I decided to put on new handlebars on my machine.

I ordered online at Chainreactioncycles.com in combination with express delivery, receiving my shipment in a few days. (Side note: If you’ve never ordered and are a new customer you’ll get 10 Euros off your first order if you purchase above 50 Euros.)

There are lots of manufacturers out there and you can shell out everything from 10 Euros to hundreds. Just do your homework and see what you like best.

In this case my order consisted of:

  • Ritchey handlebars for myself
  • Ritchey handlebars for my wife
  • FSA 80mm stem for my wife
  • 2x Cinelli handlebar tape
  • 1x Lizardskin handlebar tape

Upgrading her bike

I used the opportunity to order new handlebars and outfit my wife’s bike with a proper one. She inherited one of my old bikes and not even the handlebars on them suited me 100%. Then again it was an old training bike which I never really did anything with in terms of upgrades aside from new tires.

We went ahead and measured out that ideally, a 36cm width bar would be a good fit for her, but we went with a 38cm. I ordered both of us the same types, going with the Ritchey Comp Curve, mine logically being larger. It is a standard bar that had good reviews and ratings across the net. If you read this post on Instagram, then you’ll know I didn’t want to shell out several hundred euros for a new carbon handlebar (yet).

Along with that, she wanted to shorten her stem because the frame is already lengthy in relation to her size, hence she doesn’t need the extra stem length to become aero in riding. We opted for an FSA stem that comes down to 80mm versus the old stem the bike had on it when I first got it.

To finish it off we got Cinelli cork tape to replace the old and worn out tape the bars had on them when I first got the bike. As you can see, I really invested nothing into the bike.

If you are looking to find out what type of handlebar suits you best, the way to do so is easy. The straight forward way to measure what type of bar you’ll need is to measure across the shoulder from bone to bone. Then you’ll have your bestimate measurement. Typically, you may want to go a size higher also noting that not all manufacturers measure their widths in the same way (so check prior to placing an order).

Having recently gotten into road biking she is definitely excited about the new handlebar, new Cinelli cork tape, and adjusted brakes/shifts. We plan to ride this week so she can test it out. I’ll perhaps get her to do a short review for anyone interested.



Stripping down her bike

As you can see in the photo below, the stem and bars are a long way from any performance riding. The bike has gone through some beatings, and is not exactly the lightest, however, she wants to also get lots of kilometers in before she actually makes a switch and we buy a new bike. It’s perfectly fine to ride, especially after her amazing husband (yes, that’s me) upgrades bits in pieces for a better ride experience.

First off, was to remove the old tape and carefully cut the electrical tape holding the cables to the handlebars.

Then you’ll need to remove the shifters/brakes. You’ll be able to do it with any set of proper tools, however, I do recommend a long Allen wrench to get into the tight space. You need to lift back the rubber protection of the shifters and you’ll typically find, either on top or on the side a screw that holds the shifters to the handlebars. Loosen them up on both sides and slide them off. I do not recommend unscrewing completely. Just loosen up enough so you can slide them off the bars.

You now should have a barebone handlebar that looks like this, letting the shifters/brakes hang on their respective sides:

The next thing was to remove the handlesbars which is easily done by removing the screws that hold them in place on the front of the bike.

Now, I want to replace the stem before going back to the handlebars. In order to do so, take off the screws at the back of the stem and also the screw on the headtube (where the fork is).

As you can see a significant difference in stem sizes.

Next, it was time to put on the new FSA stem. What I didn’t think of was the potential difference in space on the header tube, so there was a gap. I didn’t have any spare spacers/dividers so I quickly drove over to my local bike shop to buy some. I dropeed the stem by about 10mm with the new dividers and put the screw back on. I dont tighten everything until I’m completely done so I can adjust and fine tune accordingly. Thats just my method of working. May or may not work for you. EIther way, with the new stem in place it was time for the handbars.

Align them and put the stem’s faceplate back on tightening enough to hold the handlebars in place properly.

Next? You guessed it, the shifters come back on. Now, this is a little tricky and there really is no right or wrong on where to place the shifters. I find its a matter of personal preference. You can put them on and while holding see what feels best on the hand. I had my wife adjust the height to how she felt best. Tightened up one side, leaving the rubber protection flipped up. Then adjusted and fine-tuned. Next, take a measuring tape to measure the distance from the bottom of the handlebar along with the curve to the bottom end of the shifters. You’ll then have the right distance to adjust the other shifter on the other side properly. Works quite well.

Next, tape the cables to the handlebar. Best is to do so on the bottom. Once you wrap your bars you’ll barely notice them if they are there. They’ll be really annoying if you tape them on the top and wrap as such.

Typically, you go with black tape. I’m different.

Then comes the wrapping. This is kind of a craft in and of its own. I suggest wrapping inside out. There are plenty of resources online. So watch a video or so. One of the reasons I like the cinelli tape is that you can wrap and rewrap if you don’t like the finish without any adhesives ruining anything.

Wrap the bars, leaving about 3 finger widths from the stem free. Tape the ends and you’re done.

As you can see, it’s a fairly straight forward process. So if you ever want to upgrade your handlebar or put on a new tape, then give it a shot if you’ve never done it. I grew up with bikes and albeit not being the most insane knower of know-it-alls when it comes to bikes. I can hold my ground in a good conversation and know my way around. Plus I love beig hands on and getting things done.

Now it’s time for my wife to test out her new enhancements.



Goodbye carbon handles

The reason any of this even occurred was that I broke my handlebars crashing. Now, that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have upgraded Renata’s bike at some point, but as life plays out, we did it sooner than expected.

I won’t go into the procedure as its the same. I just want to share a few photos.

Here is the original handlebar, suited for comfortable riding and only weighing in at roughly 190ish grams or so. And on a side note, I didn’t wrap the tape. It looks horrible, but suited its purpose.

Here are the handlebars side by side.

Here’s the crack. 🙁

The procedure. One thing I do want to note here is that I took the tube down along with the stem and dropped the whole thing nearly 2ish cm. I had been riding fairly high for a more comfort ride, but now want to move into aero. It’s still fairly high in comparison to other riders, but like with most things, whatever feels comfortable for you.

I did decide to go with another tape. I chose Lizard Skin because I find they make great tape. You go with what you know, no? What tapes do you use?

That’s it. Now after 9 days of not riding it’s time to get back on the saddle.

 

Old versus new.

I have a huge list in terms of upgrades, but one thing after the other. Hope you enjoyed this post and perhaps learned something new.

Do you road bike? What components do you use/recommend and why? I’d love to hear your comments below. If you are in the area or have a suggestion on where to ride, let me know or better yet, lets meet up and go for a spin. I’m all in for any level of riding.

 

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