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Trick to perfectly straight handlebars?

Old 06-27-19, 10:50 PM
  #1  
ronin4740
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Trick to perfectly straight handlebars?

What's your secret to getting your handlebars dead straight?

The shop serviced my headset and the bar is slightly crooked. I took it back (the shop was on my training ride route this evening) and now it's a little crooked the other way. I made it better shortly after but it's still not bang on straight..

How do you guys do this?
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Old 06-27-19, 10:54 PM
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Originally Posted by ronin4740 View Post
What's your secret to getting your handlebars dead straight?

The shop serviced my headset and the bar is slightly crooked. I took it back (the shop was on my training ride route this evening) and now it's a little crooked the other way. I made it better shortly after but it's still not bang on straight..

How do you guys do this?
Suspension of disbelief.

Try as I might, I never can get it perfect, so I have to choose to accept that it is perfect enough; suspension of disbelief, for the sake of enjoyment.
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Old 06-27-19, 11:54 PM
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The two ways that I usually use are

1- try to line up the stem's extension with the tire. Variations on this are when you sight down and use the side of the stem and side of the tire or the stem's bar clamp over the tire's center.

2- Use the bars and drop outs to look down on. Sometimes the back side of the bars and or the axle work better.

When I have customers who are especially sensitive to this I sometimes present the bike to them with a not yet tightened fully stem. I ask them to set the alignment then I do the clamping.

BTW just like some people need seats that are slightly off line so do some need bars that are not centered and/or aligned. Andy
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Old 06-28-19, 12:36 AM
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https://en.tune.de/produkt/equipment/spurtreu.html

You could use a frickin laser.

But what Andrew said.
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Old 06-28-19, 06:23 AM
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On a new build w/o wheels as of yet I have placed a rod on across the front fork ends and set the bars, after built I sight down my front wheel making sure the spokes disappear evenly behind the tire and then center the stem on the tire before tightening.
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Old 06-28-19, 06:36 AM
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After doing the best I can in the stand, I bring the Allen wrench(es) on a test ride and fine-tune it on the road.

Once in a while I get an old bike with very slightly bent bars. If you get the stem dead center, the bars feel crooked. If you align the bars, the stem looks off. Usually there's no way to notice that in the stand.
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Old 06-28-19, 06:56 AM
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Deductive logic:
1. No dimension like "perfectly straight handlebars" can exist in space-time.
2. So a tolerance on the misalignment will have to be specified.
3. The tolerance will have to be based on the observer's ability to perceive the misalignment.
4. Only the OP can explore their own ability to perceive.
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Old 06-28-19, 07:00 AM
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The trick is to get it close and not worry about it. Your brain will adapt 1 2 seconds and you'll continue to ride in a straight line regardless of how straight your bars are.
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Old 06-28-19, 07:54 AM
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I stand over the front tire, holding it between my knees, and move the bars until they look perpendicular to the tire. Double-check by looking down over the stem from the riding position.

It's not about actually getting them straight, it's about thinking that they're straight. Perception is reality. If the bars look straight to you, they are. A degree or two to one side or the other isn't going to matter.
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Old 06-28-19, 10:28 AM
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*chuckle* some good answers and some funny answers in here - thanks all! I don't know why a couple of degrees out of true bothers me so much but it does...

If the SpurTru were $40.00 I'd probably buy one... But one of the guys in the comments below the review of the SpurTru suggested a plum bob. Maybe I'll go that route.

Thank God the seat post on the Giant TCR I'm riding isn't round or I'd be losing sleep over the nose of the saddle being something other than true (though I think it's even easier to fix with a plum bob!)
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Old 06-28-19, 10:33 AM
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I try to align the stem, top tube and wheel/tire standing still. Then I carry an allen wrench to adjust while on the road (but stopped, lol).. Eventually I stop obsessing, forget about it and just ride. That is, until I do something again with the front end that brings my attention to alignment and starts the obsessive process again.
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Old 06-28-19, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
When I have customers who are especially sensitive to this I sometimes present the bike to them with a not yet tightened fully stem. I ask them to set the alignment then I do the clamping.
My system too.

Another trick is to align the handlebars with one eye closed.
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Old 06-28-19, 12:47 PM
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I have a groove between the tiles in my kitchen tile floor. Theres supposed to be more morter there than there is. I park the bike in the groove & measure the bar ends to the sliding glass door. Equal distance = perpindicular to bike. It works better with skinny tires, they fit floor groove better.

I've also installed bare rims on the bike, then zip tied the bare rims to a 2x4 I deemed "straight enough" and measured the bar ends to the seat post or some other suitable fixed reference (rear drop out, etc...) The idea being to get a clean measurement with out the influence of the tire mucking things up.
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Old 06-28-19, 01:05 PM
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Learn how to adjust a headset, and align them yourself. Get it as close as you can by eye, then go out and ride it. If adjustments are required make them.
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Old 07-01-19, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
I stand over the front tire, holding it between my knees, and move the bars until they look perpendicular to the tire. Double-check by looking down over the stem from the riding position.

It's not about actually getting them straight, it's about thinking that they're straight. Perception is reality. If the bars look straight to you, they are. A degree or two to one side or the other isn't going to matter.
I do it the same way. I was stunned that this is even an issue, until I read the second paragraph.
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Old 07-01-19, 09:47 AM
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I'm OCD about symmetry and line the handlebars up perpendicularly with some feature on the fork (like the brake bosses if the bike has "V" brakes) looking "over the bars" from above them. Able to get it "perfect" (means I can't perceive any unevenness) that way.
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Old 07-01-19, 12:17 PM
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Old 07-02-19, 05:55 AM
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I just eyeball it. On my Litespeed, which is the bike I ride most often, they've been slightly off for years now. Every ride, I notice it, and by the time I get home I've forgotten to fix it again. It's much less of a deal than having the levers not level.
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Old 07-02-19, 06:18 AM
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Is your frame straight? I futzed with the handlebar on my commuter until I finally noticed that the fork is a bit crooked.
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Old 07-02-19, 06:51 AM
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The 'trick' is to loosen your definition of 'perfect'.

There are people who put a .0001" dial gauge on their wheels to determine if they are out of true, which results in thinking the wheel is out of true even if they could not have possibly known or felt the problem without the dial gauge. The solution to this is to lighten up and ride your bike.
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Old 07-02-19, 07:06 AM
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I want you all to know I hate this thread.

3 years I've had my bike. I never noticed the handlebar wasn't perfectly straight.

Since I looked at this thread I instantly noticed that my bar is about 3-4 degrees off straight.

Now I can't unsee it.

(I'm kidding about hating anything, for the humorless among you. But suddenly seeing the bar being crooked is now driving me nuts. That part is true. )
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Old 07-02-19, 07:09 AM
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Ruler, measuring tape or large carpenters square all work for me.
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Old 07-02-19, 09:33 AM
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You need to take off any mounts/computer/lights off the handle bar because it will play tricks on you. Ensure the bike is level and hold the seat while observing from the rear. Make the necessary adjustments, double check, then go for a ride. Make final tweaks as required and you are done.
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Old 07-02-19, 06:32 PM
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Bike shop is off the hook on this one. What looks perfect to me may be unrideable to you. Or if not unrideable at least crooked. The old old bike shop way to do this was to have the customer stand over the bike and tell the mechanic when it was straight. Half the time customers would be thrilled by the personal attention and half the time they would wonder if these guys had a clue. But it will never be straight. It might make you happy, it will not be straight.
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Old 07-02-19, 07:32 PM
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Take out the front wheel, press the ends of the fork and the bars (much easier on road bikes, maybe rotate flat bars) against a window or glass door.

Never actually tried it, but I use a similar technique to make drop bar levers symmetrical.
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