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  1. #1
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    Making handlebars?

    Hello, I don't think I'm quite ready to start building bicycle frames yet. Need to do much more study on the subject before I make that move. However I would like to start fabricating something, you know... So how about handlebars? That seemed simple when I got the idea, but then I thought a bit longer about it. I discovered that handlebars have their own complexities, too. You can't just take a pipe and bend it, right?

    Ideally, I would be making them cheap. Also, I do not care about weight, so steel would be the material of choice. Can I use 22mm conduit, like used in central heating systems? Guess not.

    So, what materials and equipment do I really need? I have seen nice, industrial strength bending machines that I will never be able to buy, so I definitely need something lighter/easier. Any literature that I need to study? Do you know of any websites that deal with this subject?

    I will not be making racing style drop handlebars. They are incompatible with my (present) riding style and aesthetic ideals. I do want to experiment with different angles and bends and finishes.

  2. #2
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    Jeez, I've built alot of frames but feel it would be diffecult to make a handlebar. You would have to put something inside the tubing so it wouldn't kink and still get it out. For simple bends, I use packed sand or a spring but a handlebar has alot of bends, also if it's aluninium, you have to heat it to bend, then heattreat it back to hardness. I have lugs you can have to try and build a frame, my lugs are for gluing the joints together so no welding needed.

  3. #3
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    What immediately comes to my mind is that it would be relatively easy to bend one side of a handlebar (assuming you have some way to bend it at all) as the shape can vary quite a bit. Making the second half match the first half would be the challenge.

    Some bars are narrower with a swelled place in the middle, might be hard to DIY.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by superhotbug View Post
    Jeez, I've built alot of frames but feel it would be diffecult to make a handlebar.
    Mmm. So perhaps it is not such a good idea after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by superhotbug View Post
    You would have to put something inside the tubing so it wouldn't kink and still get it out. For simple bends, I use packed sand or a spring but a handlebar has alot of bends,
    When plumbers bend their conduit, kinks are usually not an issue. That's why I thought it would perhaps be possible with handlebar tubes, too. I have heard something about the procedure with packed sand. Could you elaborate?

    I would like keeping it simple, max. 2 bends on each side. Again: no drop bars.

    Quote Originally Posted by superhotbug View Post
    also if it's aluninium, you have to heat it to bend, then heattreat it back to hardness.
    I knew that about aluminium. One of the reasons I'm not interested in that material

    Quote Originally Posted by superhotbug View Post
    I have lugs you can have to try and build a frame, my lugs are for gluing the joints together so no welding needed.
    Did you buy these ready made? If so, where?

    Thank you.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    What immediately comes to my mind is that it would be relatively easy to bend one side of a handlebar (assuming you have some way to bend it at all) as the shape can vary quite a bit. Making the second half match the first half would be the challenge.
    I think it can be done by aligning carefully to one or two lines that you make with a marker pen on the tube (straight from end to end).

    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    Some bars are narrower with a swelled place in the middle, might be hard to DIY.
    This is something else I have thought about. I would possibly try to solve this by making the bar one diameter and then sliding on and clamping/pressing a shim around it in the middle.

    The bending is what I am the most nervous about.

  6. #6
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    Most non-drop bars do not have a lot of bends in them, and they dont tend to be too tight. Also some people are just welding them, there are some threads of interest on the Frameforum, and there may be one more here.

    You dont have to pack the inside of a tube in order to bend it, it becomes and issue with the thinest wall sizes. Its a ratio thing, with wall thickness in proportion to tube diameter being the issue. The material you need to use is 4130 aircraft steel. That material is right at the crossover point where the wall thickness is really to thin, and it does need to be mandrel bent. Most builder are to scared to go that thin with the welding and unknown loads so they go to the next size up, and at that point the mandrel isnt required.

    Cost wise 4130 is no problem, but you always need to make a few trial pieces to check out the dimensions of where the bend starts relative to your layout, and how much springback you get, etc... You are bound to ruin a few pieces, and the end result is you are going to spend more on this project than you think, so you need to have a reason like learning, customizing, making what you cant buy, or in my case the Thorn version being 200 bucks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Use right sized bamboo for straight bars. Mother nature's version of carbon fiber. Light, strong, no bends.
    Now find a market for them.

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