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Fierko 07-05-06 02:25 PM

Handle bars falling off
I'm new to this site and am really enjoying the posts, learning lots! I'm relatively new to "serious" biking and have had my first mis-hap. Has anyone heard of problems of loose handle bars, then having them drop or move sideways? This happened to me a few days ago - I bought a good bike from a reputable dealer. I'm hesitant to mention the name in case it is some flukey thing, but when I called the shop, the manager was suggesting that this isn't the first time with this brand. So, I'm trying to gather information - and yes, I'm dealing with the shop.
By the way, this happened 45 minutes into the first ride I had on this bike, took quite a tumble, got banged up - not pretty. Any info (including links to consumer watchdog type sites for this) would be greatly appreciated.


mmerner 07-05-06 02:58 PM

things come loose, if it keeps happening I'd get worried.

Fierko 07-05-06 03:28 PM

well - I've shelved the bike for now and am taking it back to the shop - I'm in a small town, I work long hours and the business hours for this shop don't line up that great. I plan on getting a refund - bad vibes on a bike that has less than an hour of ride time on it and the handle bars go pphhht! the manager has said this has happened to two other people within the last few days on this brand - but with less disatrerous results. I'm looking to gather as much info as I can and see if there is some links out there about consumer reporting on this.
thanks for you reply - this is a great site!

Pedal Wench 07-05-06 07:41 PM

Sounds like an assembly issue. I would consider a different shop.

Fierko 07-05-06 09:40 PM

I definitely am. However, I have to get this issued resolved with this place. I've been getting some really great advice from people and have a good idea how to approach it with the shop owner. Thanks again!

rollinchic 07-06-06 02:42 PM

Definately need a new shop, most bikes come partially assembled and that is why you pay more when buying from the shop and not the net. They are suppose to make sure everything is in order. This is not likely a manufacturer problem!

spider-man 07-06-06 02:46 PM

If a bolt is loose, tighten it. It ain't rocket science.

Eggplant Jeff 07-06-06 06:16 PM

Definitely an assembly issue. Handlebars are clamped in place, I don't think I've ever seen ones where you could tighten the clamp until it ran out of clamping force and the bars wouldn't be tight. Not unless the guy putting it together used completely the wrong size bars or something.

I'd get the shop to replace any parts damaged on the bike, then just take your business elsewhere. You're not likely to get them to pay for medical expenses or anything, so just chalk that part up to a lesson learned about that dealer.

[edit] to go along with what spidey said, though... Bicycles are pretty simple machines. If you're at all mechanically inclined, you should be able to look at the handlebars and figure out which bolts to tighten, then tighten them. You'll probably need to pick up a set of metric allen wrenches, since most of the bolts on a bike nowadays are allen-headed, but Sears or a hardware store should have a set with more sizes than you'll need for like $10.

[edit again] And if you're afraid of tightening them too much because you're not really mechanically inclined, just tighten each bolt (in some seqence, if there's more than one... order won't be important, just that you tighten them all about the same amount) like 1/4 turn at a time. Then thump the handlebars really hard and see if they budge. If they do, tighten another 1/4 turn (remember to put the handlebars back where they belong first!). That way you're not going to overtighten them.

roadfix 07-06-06 10:11 PM

Was it a loose bolt or a defective/broken component? It'll be nice if you told us exactly what happened. Like mentioned, it could be as simple as an assembly issue. If the shop manager acknowledged this has happened before, then a full refund shouldn't be an issue with the shop or are you looking for something more than that?

BlazingPedals 07-07-06 05:36 AM

Assuming it's not an improper assembly issue, the only bikes I've heard of having this problem are Sun recumbents. If that's what you have, there's a fix for the problem that your dealer should know about.

squeakr 07-17-06 10:12 AM

The early Easton carbon bars were known to loosen during rides. The company was aware of this and added adhesive areas to the clamping zones to alleviate the slipping of the stem clamp and the brifters. This was changed a few years back, but could also be the case in the your bars situation. I know it is not unheard of to have uncoated carbon become slippery. I have a FSA KWing Carbon that has been known to slip during a hard RR crossing and such, just check your torque settings and possibly loctite as suggested (i know mine had loosened up. Let's somewhat give the shop the benefit of the doubt, as we know nothing of the stem or bar material that may have lead to this, or the size of the rider (I am a clydesdale myself and hard on lightweight components). The OP hasn't given us the whole background and story (ie. how was he riding when it happened, where, and undeer what conditions), as this could reveal more such as he, a clydesdale like myself, was riding in the rain and hit a pothole (I could easily see wet carbon bars with a wet carbon stem slipping when a pothole was hit if they had loosened slightly). All things need to be checked out for tightness on a new machine after the first few hundred miles as cables will stretch and cassettes and bolts loosen, this is normal even with a prolevel shop.

Banzai 07-17-06 01:21 PM

It would be helpful to know some details. What kind of handlebars? Stem? Make? Model?

I find it hard to believe that a "known" problem like your bloody handlebars slipping out wouldn't prompt a recall, or mandatory safety notice...or that a reasonably clever bike shop would sell it without first finding a workable fix.

A few possibilities:

The bolts were simply loose. This is simple, and someone at the shop should be smacked upside the head for allowing that.

The stem is mismatched. You may have a "road" stem with a flat handlebar? That simply won't work!

It's carbon. That is by the way on the list of "why banzai doesn't like carbon."

Either way...entirely unacceptable. Even most x-mart bikes can hold their handlebars.

Mothra 07-17-06 03:15 PM

The design of the end-cap on a lot of threadless stems can use some improvement. A lot of them have four bolts with an even gap all the way around the clamp. This ends up playing all of the load and stress on the 4-bolts which has to take loads in shear as well. The vibrations will end up loosening the bolts and causing the bar to slip.

A better design would be to have the clamp mate up with stem on one side so that two bolts can be fully tightened down tight, like 20-30lb*ft. This makes the clamp take the loads and transfers it to the stem. The other side of the clamp can have a gap that narrows when the bolts are tightened. This design would then have the bolts only loaded in tension. A lot of motorcycle front-axles are clamped to the forks this way, one side of the clamp is rigidly bolted, the other side is flexible.

operator 07-17-06 03:32 PM

Time for a new LBS. There's no possible way unless there is some sort of manufacturing defect from the bars that they should come loose. Even if this were the case it would be their duty not to sell a bike like that or replace it before it gets to the customer.

Your LBS said that it has happened to several people? I would run away, run far far away. Incompetence abound.

slowandsteady 07-18-06 09:23 AM


If a bolt is loose, tighten it. It ain't rocket science.

Righty tighty, leftie loosie....

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