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Aligning Handlebar With Wheels

Old 07-05-18, 02:22 AM
  #1  
Witterings
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Aligning Handlebar With Wheels

Are there any "tricks" for aligning your handlebars perfectly at 90 degrees with your front wheel, I can always get it "close" but think I'm a bit OCD about it ... would love to know if there are any good methods of doing it rather than just by eye.
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Old 07-05-18, 04:39 AM
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I'd imagine you could try using a carpenter's speed square. Place it along the back side of the straight section of the bars, then look downward onto the top of the tire behind the fork, and align with the other edge.
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Old 07-05-18, 05:28 AM
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Close one eye.
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Old 07-05-18, 05:36 AM
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It's annoying when the bar alignment is just slightly off.

Stand over the bike. Sight down to the hub, with the front of the stem clamp directly over the hub. Then I can see if each edge of the clamp shows the same amount of hub. And the tire must be centered on the hub view at the same time.

I don't think a carpenter's square would work very well with the bars taped.

Last edited by rm -rf; 07-05-18 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 07-05-18, 05:38 AM
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I'm thinking that if you took two pieces of string and tied one end of each around the valve stem of your front wheel and then measured each as they extended to the top of each hood...when both lengths were equal it would be pretty good. No? I think it's geometry.
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Old 07-05-18, 06:08 AM
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If you have a good eye you can notice how off-center the bar bends themselves are.
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Old 07-05-18, 06:19 AM
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A local shop uses a jig made of 2x4. It was pretty cool.
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Old 07-05-18, 06:35 AM
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Attach a 6-8in long fishing line to a round stick or something a little wider than your bars, and at the end of the line tie a small lead fishing sinker w/eyelet. Then lay the stick across your bars with the tied end of the line in the middle of the faceplate of the stem and center it until the sinker is hanging above the center of the tire.

I also saw a guy who made a wooden "T" thing. The horizontal section was a little wider than the bars and rested across them.The vertical section was screwed onto the bottom center and would hang down above the tire. Then he centered it like I described with the fishing line.

Last edited by Lazyass; 07-05-18 at 06:39 AM.
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Old 07-05-18, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
Close one eye.
That's what I think too. It makes more of a difference than you'd think.

When I was a kid growing up, my mother would make my big sister and me share one candy bar. My sister, since she was older, got to cut the candy bar in half. I got to pick first. How I agonized over that decision. It didn't occur to me until much later that, if it was that hard to tell which "half" was bigger, it wasn't different enough to matter.

When I had my own bike shop I found a different solution to the problem. Whenever a customer complained about the handlebar alignment, I'd have the customer straddle the bike while I'd loosen the clamp. Then I'd ask the customer to tell me when the alignment was perfect and I'd tighten the clamp. Done!
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Old 07-05-18, 08:55 AM
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I can't give credit since I've forgotten the source, but their idea was to take a steel straightedge about a foot long, and rest it on the edge of the top of the bar clamp. Then sighting along the edge of the tire to gage alignment. I didn't have great luck with this method, but it spurred another way to use a straightedge to align.

I hold the straightedge on the back of the fork crown and sight down the back edge of the handlebars.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:14 AM
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I was not aware that jigs and plum lines and 2x4's were a thing for aligning handlebars.

Maybe I'm reckless but I just look at it.


-Tim-
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Old 07-05-18, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
When I was a kid growing up, my mother would make my big sister and me share one candy bar. My sister, since she was older, got to cut the candy bar in half. I got to pick first. How I agonized over that decision. It didn't occur to me until much later that, if it was that hard to tell which "half" was bigger, it wasn't different enough to matter.
Ha. similar story in a way.. in our house, it was kids splitting the last ear of corn with dad.. His system however was that kids got to break it in half, but he got to pick which half.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:25 AM
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I've always intended to rig up something with two plum bobs and a 2x4 but I've been too lazy to implement it. I can usually get it pretty good by eyeballing it, but there is always kind of a nagging worry that it's not *exactly* perfect.
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Old 07-05-18, 09:55 AM
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1. Eyeball it
2. Ride no hands. Look good? No?
3. Loosen. Move. Tighten. Go to step 2. Repeat as necessary.
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Old 07-05-18, 10:14 AM
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Seeing bars and hub axle parallel , by eye sight does not work for you??
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Old 07-05-18, 10:43 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
I was not aware that jigs and plum lines and 2x4's were a thing for aligning handlebars.
Maybe I'm reckless but I just look at it.-Tim-
Truth! Just look down the top tube,stem, and front wheel.Leave it a little loose and give it a tap to align, tighten down. Can't imagine bringing out plumb bobs, straight edges, or the laser level to align.

Tune Spurtreu uses a laser to perfectly align your stem | road.cc
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Old 07-05-18, 10:49 AM
  #17  
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1) Hang the bike on a hook from the ceiling. Make sure that anything that weights one side is removed. You want the bike as close to 90 deg vertical as possible.
2) Set up a self-leveling laser cross hair level
3) Aim the vertical laser line to align with your front wheel, stem, top tube, and rear wheel. Note: there is no guarantee that they are aligned perfectly
4) Aim the horizontal laser line to align with your bar. If your bar is curved, you may have to lash a straight edge to it for this phase.
5) Adjust as necessary until both vertical and horizontal lines are congruent with the bike and bars.
Success!

Or you can do what I do and just eyeball it. Good luck in either case
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Old 07-05-18, 10:58 AM
  #18  
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You could try something like this for both saddle and stem:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071SHLJTH/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 07-05-18, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
A local shop uses a jig made of 2x4. It was pretty cool.
a pic of that jig would be useful

But even if itís dead on, it may seem
a tad off for some riders.

i like the suggestion to have the owner sit on
th bike , adjust to fit their eye
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Old 07-05-18, 11:29 AM
  #20  
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Take a thin ruler. Lay it on edge along the center of the stem, being sure that the ruler's ends extend beyond the front and back of the stem. Turn the front wheel about 45 degrees. Now, be sure the ruler is lined up with the center of the handlebar clamp and the stem clamp. Close one eye; the ruler should appear to line up perfectly with the center of the tire in front of the stem and the tire behind the stem.

Complicated to explain; easy to do.
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Old 07-05-18, 12:38 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by bogydave View Post


a pic of that jig would be useful

The easiest way I could describe it would be an "H" that was much like a modified wood clamp that was mated to a "T" upper section. Straddled the top of the tire and has the T section lay against (as it were) the front side of handlebars. It did not rely on nor have to take into account which way the frame/headset was aligned. On my hybrid I was testing an adjustable feedneck in store and the mech laid it up there for me to use as a guide.
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Old 07-05-18, 12:54 PM
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I just keep dicking with it until it stops bothering me. Not the most efficient, but it gets me there eventually.
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Old 07-05-18, 12:54 PM
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One time, I spend 30 minutes trying to align the handlebar using just eye balls...there has to be a better way. It's 2018.
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Old 07-05-18, 01:19 PM
  #24  
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Using a plumb line is only going to work if the bike is perfectly upright.

Personally, I turn the wheel so I can see the front and back of the tire, then center both the back and front of the stem with the sections of tire appearing below each.
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Old 07-05-18, 02:45 PM
  #25  
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Have you sought treatment for your OCD?
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