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Process to change handlebars

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Process to change handlebars

Old 03-01-21, 04:10 PM
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zabicdrozda
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Process to change handlebars

Hey Bike Forums -- long-time listener, first-time caller here.


I'm hoping to get some insight into the process of changing handlebars (and brakes/shifters as necessary. The bars right now are a cruiser style and I'm hoping to install some drop-bars. Essentially I'm wondering if this is a do-able project for someone with pretty basic bike maintenance skills and pretty basic bike maintenance tools. I know I could probably get this done at my LBS, but I sort of want a project to work on and hopefully learn more about bike maintenance/building along the way. But I also don't want to spend a bunch of money on parts and tools only to find out there's no way I can complete this without some serious expertise.


The bike in question is a Raleigh Lenton (I want to say 80s or 90s?). I tried adding a photo here but I don't have enough posts to do so yet.


Some final questions (and if I'm overstepping what this forum is meant for please let me know):
  • Is this realistic for a relative newbie to bike maintenance?
  • Is there a list of essential tools I should have for something like this?
  • Is there already an excellent guide/tutorial that covers all this that I have missed?


Thanks in advance for any information and if there is anything else I can add that will help providing assistance do let me know.


Z
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Old 03-01-21, 04:21 PM
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The brake levers for cruiser-style bars do not usually work well on drop bars, so those will need to be changed and will need to be compatible with your brakes. There is a possibility the shifters may need to be changed as well. Also, you may need to change your stem as the "reach" of cruiser and drop bars are different. None of these tasks are difficult or require special tools, but one thing tends to lead to another with these kinds of changes.
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Old 03-01-21, 04:23 PM
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I don't think it's a matter of technical ability but a matter of how much money you're willing to throw at it.

Off the top of my head.

There is a decent chance that drop bars will not fit the stem on your bike.

Where are the shifters? If they're mounted on the handlebars, the entire mechanism needs to be swapped. If they're on the down tube or stem, or if there are no gears, that would help.

The brake levers will need to be changed to something designed for a drop bar. If you get the type without integrated shifters, they aren't expensive.

You'll need to learn to wrap up a pair of bars. It's not hard and everyone needs to know that.

Cables and housing replaced.

How does the rest of the bike run? Is it a giant pile of crap or is it a good running bike?

I think that unless you have a deep desire to run an old cruiser as a drop bar, it's rarely worth it. Nothing against drop bars, I think 8 of my bikes have them.
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Old 03-01-21, 04:39 PM
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I couldn't find any mention of a Raleigh Lenton later than the early 1960s. Please respond to a couple more posts so you can post pictures. I am very curious to see what you have!!!
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Old 03-01-21, 04:40 PM
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Post ii:

Also, if I am correct and the bike is much older than 80s/90s, you will likely have more compatibility issues than we could even guess. Is it a 3 speed?
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Old 03-01-21, 04:56 PM
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Folks in the Classic & Vintage folder might have some useful insight if you can post pictures.
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Old 03-01-21, 04:59 PM
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The brake levers for cruiser-style bars do not usually work well on drop bars, so those will need to be changed and will need to be compatible with your brakes.
Thanks for the reply!

So more of a how much time/resources I'm willing to put into it question, eh?

Assuming the the brake levers need to be changed - how does one tell if they are compatible with the brakes?

Last edited by zabicdrozda; 03-01-21 at 05:08 PM.
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Old 03-01-21, 05:01 PM
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As mentioned above, this could be a large project which you might spend more on than just buying a similar bike with a drop handlebar. If you're absolutely in love with this bike and just want a drop bar on it, a basic set of tools should get it done, except you'll want something to cleanly cut the cable housing (Dremel, housing cutter, or mini bolt cutter).

As for a tutorial, Sheldon Brown is a great source to check for things like this.
https://www.sheldonbrown.com/deakins/handlebars.html
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Old 03-01-21, 05:07 PM
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zabicdrozda
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I don't think it's a matter of technical ability but a matter of how much money you're willing to throw at it.
This is sort of what I thought would be the case. Seems like it's an issue of will and not of skill which is hopefully easier for me to overcome

Where are the shifters? If they're mounted on the handlebars, the entire mechanism needs to be swapped. If they're on the down tube or stem, or if there are no gears, that would help.
Yep, they are definitely on the handlebars. My other pipe-dream was to get rid of the gears on the bike and just run it as a single-speed, but looking to that it seemed like an even bigger and more complex job.

How does the rest of the bike run? Is it a giant pile of crap or is it a good running bike?
It runs fine. It's what I was using as my primary bike for a few years now until I upgraded this past summer. So it's really just sitting in the garage and I thought maybe it could be a fun tinkering project.

I couldn't find any mention of a Raleigh Lenton later than the early 1960s. Please respond to a couple more posts so you can post pictures. I am very curious to see what you have!!!
I'm working on getting those posts in. The bike right now is a 7-speed. I admittedly haven't done a lot of research into what exactly the model or year is, but it definitely says Raleigh and Lenton on it.
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Old 03-01-21, 05:17 PM
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you miught want to start at the stem , you most likely have the older quill stem , if you want to convert your entire front end it might be more cost effective to just buy a newer road bike , that would be the option i choose rather than spend 400 bucks swapping everything over , unless you REALLLLLY like the bike and you HAAAAVE to ride it !!!!!

so if you want to convert just start at the stem , it will be most likely going to give you the option of the drop bars and brake levers , and using friction shifters on the down tube , stem , or bar ends , they are pretty easy to index and can work with the older style of derailleurs .

your bike might be from the 60s or 70s , is the single speed version , you might not even have to worry about shifters , just swap the bars buy some brakes and get some bar tape , or dont

if you want to upgrade to modern stuff , like a 9 speed you might have to make sure you have enough space in the back , if your wheels are 27 , you might want to convert to 700 if possible, then you can just buy a 9 speed group set and a cable pack and you should be good !
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Old 03-02-21, 08:42 AM
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If you can find a road bike with drop bars in a similar size on craigslist near you, go buy that instead. It'll be about the same price and ready to ride.
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Old 03-02-21, 09:30 AM
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Just do it! You can do this.

There will be stupid details every step of the way for you to figure out. None are very complicated and working through them, for me at least, is part of the fun. You'll be smarter when you finish than you are now.
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Old 03-03-21, 09:05 AM
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zabicdrozda
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Just do it! You can do this.

There will be stupid details every step of the way for you to figure out. None are very complicated and working through them, for me at least, is part of the fun. You'll be smarter when you finish than you are now.
I appreciate the vote of confidence!

I understand what others are saying too -- probably going to be a pain and there are certainly paths of lesser resistance here. But while I find myself in a position of having an extra bike just laying around I think I may as well just dive and in see what I can learn along the way.
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