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Bicycle Mechanics Broken bottom bracket? Tacoed wheel? If you're having problems with your bicycle, or just need help fixing a flat, drop in here for the latest on bicycle mechanics & bicycle maintenance.

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Old 10-21-05, 12:08 PM   #1
theshoemaker
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...didn't find any luck with my search. No matter how much I noodle with it my bars always seem just slightly out of alignment with my front tire, one way or the other.
Is there an easy way to get this perfected?
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Old 10-21-05, 12:43 PM   #2
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The parallax method nails it for me.
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Old 10-21-05, 01:44 PM   #3
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"parallax method"?
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Old 10-21-05, 01:47 PM   #4
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Ok,

Stradle to top tube.
Head down directly over the fork cap.
now look at the front wheel with the stem in the center of your vision.
now close one eye
where did the tire go?
Center the bars on the tire with one eye closed
now check with the other eye (must have two eyes)

if it seems balanced right and left, tighten it down

BAM straight bars!
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Old 10-21-05, 02:05 PM   #5
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Tightly wrap a strip of velcro, etc. around your down tube and through your front rim. This should center your wheel and align it with your frame. Now loosen your stem and either stand in front of your bike or straddle your bike and look straight down to center bars. Tighten stem, remove velcro strap and away you go.
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Old 10-21-05, 03:01 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theshoemaker
...didn't find any luck with my search. No matter how much I noodle with it my bars always seem just slightly out of alignment with my front tire, one way or the other.
Is there an easy way to get this perfected?
The problem is that there are actually three parts that need to be in alignment, the front-tyre, the frame and the stem/handlebars. Here's the procedure I use:

1. loosen stem, make sure you can wiggle it easily, but not so lose it falls down.

2. stand in front of bike, align front-tyre inline on the same plane as the frame, look down over the top-tube, make sure it's aligned with the down-tube and rotate the tyre so it's directly centered beneath them all.

3. hold front-tyre between knees to keep aligned with frame and rotate stem so stem is parallel to front-tyre, handlebars parallel to hub and at right-angles to tyre.

4. tighten stem.

Another way is to make incremental adjustments. If you see that the bars are off to the left when you ride, make a note of it. Then when you're off the bike, hold the front-tyre with your legs, slightly loosen the stem bolt, grab far ends of the bars and slightly nudge them in the correct direction. Tighten stem and hop on and check alignment.
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Old 10-21-05, 04:03 PM   #7
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On a previous bike I actually had a stem whose clamp was slightly off alignment. With my bars absolutely perfect, you would look down at the stem and it would be slightly off to the right, maybe 1/8th of an inch. I learned to ignore the visual miscue and just put the bars where they felt right.
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Old 10-21-05, 04:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsharr
Tightly wrap a strip of velcro, etc. around your down tube and through your front rim. This should center your wheel and align it with your frame. Now loosen your stem and either stand in front of your bike or straddle your bike and look straight down to center bars. Tighten stem, remove velcro strap and away you go.
This is a great point! Thanks. The frame is the basis from which the wheel can be aligned and this gives me a way to ensure it is rigidly aligned. This should make it easier but I wish there was a way to ensure that the bars are rigidly aligned with the hub. Any ideas for this?
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Old 10-21-05, 05:13 PM   #9
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I use a metal yard (or meter if you prefer) stick as an alignment guide. Place the yard stick on edge over the stem's or steerer's center bolt and have it extend over the exact center of the handlebar clamp (the center of the handlebar clamp can often be located accurately by using the logo on the face plate as a guide) and out over the front tire. Look at the yard stick from above, If the stem is centered, the yard stick will exactly bisect the front tire.
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Old 10-22-05, 06:21 AM   #10
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Hehe- I always just eyeball 'em....
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Old 10-22-05, 03:59 PM   #11
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I've had to see my shrink about this before
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Old 10-22-05, 05:18 PM   #12
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Wow. You guys are really obsessive.
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Old 10-22-05, 06:42 PM   #13
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Wait 'til they start pulling out the micrometers and laser-alignment gauges...
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