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Old 06-05-11, 04:11 AM   #1
AL NZ
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can I bend my alloy mountain bike handle bars safely?

Hi all,

advice wanted please...
Tomorrow we are off on a family ride, easy flat path that my 5 yr old can cope with.
I have ranted before on the un-ergonomic-ness of modern 'straight' handle bars. I like old North Roads - the oblique hand position is perfect - the old makers worked this out over 100 yrs ago, but it has been unlearnt, and the palm-down fully-pronated grip of modern bars loads up my wrists most uncomfortably

So I was wondering about 'cold setting' my mountain bike bars before we go, but I know it may weaken or possibly snap them.

Has anyone had any joy with this?
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Old 06-05-11, 05:01 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by AL NZ View Post
I know it may weaken or possibly snap them.
Question answered.

I use On One Mary which has a swoopy shape.
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Old 06-05-11, 05:23 AM   #3
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aluminum is finicky about heat treatment and bending. Even if you manage to bend them, they will be much too weak and brittle to use. Just do what MichaelW said and buy new handle bars, you will be happier.
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Old 06-05-11, 05:31 AM   #4
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If you know what you're doing, you might bend your bars OK. If I were doing it, I'm sure I'd kink the tubing and ruin the bars completely.

I think MichaelW has it right. There's actually a pretty fair number of North-Road-type bars available, ranging from inexpensive chromed steel to chromoly to heat-treated aluminum. Not sure what you might have ready access to, but in addition to the On-One Mary (which I've never used, but a lot of people like), you might consider the Nitto Albatross, the Soma Sparrow, and the Wald North Road.
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Old 06-05-11, 08:23 AM   #5
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I strongly doubt that you can bend a straight bar to anything approximating a North Road bend without seriously compromising strength (if at all without cracking).

Most bars today are made of alloys that are age hardened or heat-treated. These will not take well to any kind of bending.

Many older bars which are made from 2000 series non-heatreated alloy can be bent, but you need to use a mandrel - like the one electricians use for bending conduit - or spring liner to avoid ovalizing them or having a local area collapse.

BTW- while I agree that the North Road is a highly evolved classic shape, the All Rounder which is similar to most "straight" mtb bars is equally classic and evolved. It isn't a question of either being better, but of riding position and personal preference. I suggest you consider giving your bars a chance, or buy a new bar of the desired shape.
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Old 06-05-11, 10:20 AM   #6
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I wouldn't, you may get them bent but have them crack later while riding.
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Old 06-05-11, 10:40 AM   #7
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1), no clue what bar you have and what the manufacturing steps were to create it, soft cheap aluminum, or something heat treated
and able to stand up to serious down hill racing abuse,
are 2 poles of extremes.

Given a large variety of handlebar bends are sold these days,
why not take your new found desires shopping?
sounds like you should buy a set of North Road bend bars and fit fit them on your mountain bike
now that parenting transport is what you use the bike for , more, now.

Nitto makes some very nice bars, of that type, Rivendale sells them as Albatross bars', in steel and aluminum.
I have a set formed of thin wall high strength ChroMoly alloy steel.

____
non heat treated Aluminum May be bent, BUT you will have to think thru the how and how much..

I have taken some of the sag that soft , non heat treated Drop bars do over time,

but that was after having done some metal work and mechanics for decades.

and then the bend was small , gave the parallel drops some flare,
a opening the bend rather than tightening the radii.

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-05-11 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 06-05-11, 11:38 AM   #8
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By "safely" do you mean not harming yourself while doing it or not harming the bars?

Yes to the former if you are very careful and wear protective gear, probably no to the latter unless you have the proper mandrel-bender and know the procedure for the particular alloy involved.
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Old 06-05-11, 11:44 AM   #9
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<$20 and eligible for free super-saver shipping if you order $25 worth of stuff. I often will buy through the Niagara Storefront and buy a bunch of stuff at a time which combines shipping and makes it even cheaper. I've bought 2 of these same bars from Niagara and they are nice bars and very light. They run a bit longer than the Raleigh version which is a good thing if you have a twist-grip shifter because the Nottingham bars will push your lever into the bend. If you want the exact Raleigh bend you can simply cut a couple inches off with a tubing cutter.

They make a steel version which are heavier but it's not worth the extra weight to save $5.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:03 PM   #10
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Fitting a set of bar ends won't raise the height like the bars mentioned above,
but they will let you rotate your hands to a thumb forward grip.
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Old 06-05-11, 02:09 PM   #11
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I just fitted virtually the same bars to my mountain bike turned commuter. All your existing brake levers, shifters and grips should just transfer right over. You may want a comfortable saddle as with the upright position less weight will be on your hands. Alternatively you can install them upside down for a bit of drop. I find that you can also reach forward and grab the curves or central portion if your hands aren't too big.
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