How To Raise Bike Handlebars And Avoid Back Pain


If your back hurts after biking, the handlebars can be the culprit. The height of the bike’s handlebar directly impacts your comfort. With the right height, the handlebars can promote a more comfortable riding position as it minimizes strain on your back, arms, and wrists. 

If you want to know how to raise bike handlebars, we got you. Keep on reading, and we’ll talk about how you can do it like a pro. With simple adjustments to your MTB handlebars, you can avoid back pain! 

Why Handlebar Height Matters 

Before we discuss the specifics of how to raise handlebars, let’s first quickly talk about why you should do it. 

If your handlebar height is low, it will reduce your center of gravity. You will be putting more of your weight in the front wheel, which also increases traction. It will also put you in a more centered position. The result is that you will have better control of the bike. 

However, if it is too low, you may find it more difficult to steer the bike, especially when you are in steep terrain. You will need to raise the handlebar to be more comfortable. At the end of the day, you can experiment with different heights of the different types of handlebars and see which one suits your needs. 

Bar height also accommodates the height of the user. Aside from adjusting bike seat height, handlebar height will also make the bike grow with the rider. Growing taller will require a higher handlebar. 

Improving visibility is another reason to raise bike handlebars. If it is too low, you will find yourself hunching and this can also limit what you can see while on the road. 

How to Raise Bike Handlebars with a Threadless Headset Stem

In case you are unfamiliar with the parts of a bike, the stem is the L-shaped metal that connects the body of the bike to the handlebar. It will have several bolts that will keep the handlebar in its position. At the top, you will see a big bolt and two smaller bolts. This means that there is no continuous metal connecting to the frame 

1. Determine How High It Should Be 

Similar to adjusting road bike pedals or touring saddles, among other parts of the bike, there is no magic formula that says how high the handlebar should be. At the end of the day, it all boils down to personal preferences. So, the first thing to do is to get on the bike. 

Your body is the judge when it comes to how high or low the handlebar should be. When you are seated on the bike, your bike should not be too arched. Meanwhile, your arms should be slightly bent. 

If you are a race rider, then you might want to have lower handlebars, which will be better aerodynamically. Meanwhile, for most riders, the handlebar should be at the same height as the seat or higher. 

2. Loosen the Top Bolt 

Now that you know the necessary adjustments, it’s time to start raising the handlebar. Loosen the top bolt, which is possible by using an Allen wrench. You will be using this tool to take out the bolt that connects to the stem cap. After removing the bolt, keep it in a safe space as you will need to return it once you are done. 

3. Loosen the Pinch Bolts 

After loosening the top bolt, proceed to the pinch bolts. Located at the top of the steerer tube, these are the bolts that you can find on both sides of the stem. You will need an Allen key to take out the pinch bolts. 

4. Remove the Handlebar 

Once you have removed both the top bolt and the pinch bolts, the handlebar will be loose. All that you need to do is to pull it off the frame of the bike. As you pull the handlebar, do this as slowly as possible. Otherwise, you might end up damaging the cables that connect to the derailleurs and brakes. 

After removing the handlebars, place it on a table or any high surface next to the bike. If you are using a bicycle repair stand, place a chair next to the bike so that there is a safe space for the handlebar without pulling the cables. 

5. Add Spacers 

With the handlebar disconnected from the stem, add spacers into the steerer tube. The number of spacers to add will depend on the height of the handlebar that you would like to achieve.

6. Return the Handlebar 

After adding the spacers that you need to reach the desired height, now is the time to slide the handlebar back to its original position. The goal is to just slide it on the stem and not to have it aligned. You will deal with its alignment later. 

7. Insert the Stem Cap and Top Bolt 

With the handlebar in its original position, you have to return the stem cap, which you have earlier removed using an Allen wrench. If you have a bike with delicate components, it is best to use a torque wrench to be sure that you are applying the right pressure. 

Another thing that you should do is to engage the front brake. Wiggle the wheel and see if your hands can feel any weird movement. If it feels loose, then you have to make the top bolt tighter. If it feels like you are struggling with the movement, it means that the top bolt is too tight, and you will need to loosen it a bit. 

8. Check the Alignment 

The last thing to do is to check that everything is aligned before you can take the bike out for a spin. While standing on the bike with the frame between your legs, align the stem. See to it that it is on the same line as the front wheel. Once they are aligned, tighten the bolts. 

How to Raise Bike Handlebars with a Threaded Headset Stem 

When a bike has a threaded headset, it means that there is a continuous metal that connects the handlebars to the body of the bike. There is only one bolt, which you will find at the top of the stem. 

1. Loosen the Top Bolt 

Like with how to raise handlebars in a threadless headset, the first thing that you will need to remove is the top bolt. This is the part that points down and exerts pressure for the handlebar to stay tight in its assigned position. Without the top bolt, the handlebar will loosen. You will need an Allen key to do this. 

2. Loosen the Lock Nut 

Once you are done loosening the top bolt, proceed to the lock nut. You will need an adjustable wrench to complete this step. Wiggle the handlebar from left to right to see if you have loosened the lock nut enough. If it is still too tight, consider applying a bike degreaser, pound, then loosen. 

3. Remove the Handlebar

After loosening both the top bolt and the lock nut, you can now remove the handlebar completely off the frame. It can be stuck on the stem, so you will need to wiggle and apply more force to pull it off. Clean the stem and apply grease. 

4. Return the Handlebar 

Return the stem to the head tube and adjust depending on how high you want it to be. On the horizontal line of the stem, you will see a line, which will indicate the maximum height at which an adjustment can be made, so make sure to not go over that line. If you need to make it higher than the maximum that the line shows, then you will need a steerer extender. 

5. Tighten the Bolt 

To finish raising the handlebar, tighten the top bolt. While you are doing this, hold the handlebar in the alignment that you want. Move the handlebar from the left to the right, and if there is a lot of wiggle room, then it means that you have to make the bolt tighter.

Other Ways to Avoid Back Pain 

While you can raise handlebars to avoid back pain, this isn’t the only solution. Below are other things that you can do to be more comfortable in every ride. 

  • Work on your physical strength. As a part of your MTB training, you need proper exercise. This will prepare your body for the rigors of cycling. Among others, you will need to work on your core. The stronger your core is, the better you can mobilize your pelvis. This also means that you can go faster without too much strain on your back. 
  • Slowly increase your mileage, especially if you are a newbie. Do not go from zero to 100 in a flash. Like all great things, it will take time. If you push your body to the limit, you will inevitably suffer from excruciating back pain. 
  • Addressing your posture is another easy solution to avoid back pain when you are biking. Do not crouch too much. Try to minimize slumping, which will also put your back in a more relaxed position. 
  • It will also help to change your riding position frequently, especially if you are biking a long time. Pain is a result of repetitive and cumulative stress that your back experiences. Being seated in a fixed position for a long time increases the risk of back pain. Move your back a little. 
  • Move more. Being physically active is a great solution to back pain from biking. A lot of people have a sedentary lifestyle, which is why their back hurts when they go biking. The more you move, the more your body will be used to the physical demands of cycling. 



Q: How do I raise handlebars on my kid’s bike?


To raise the handlebars on a kid’s bike, place the front wheel between your legs. Depending on the type of the handlebar, loosen the stem from the tube. You can add spacers or adjust the height. Tighten the bolts and the handlebars are now at the desired height. 

Q: How do you adjust handlebar height?


To adjust handlebar height, the process will differ depending on if you have a threadless or threaded headset. If you have a threadless headset, you will need to remove the stem from the headtube, add spacers, and return the stem. 

If it is a threaded headset, on the other hand, you will not need to add spacers and you will adjust the actual height of the bike once the stem is returned to the headtube after it is loosened.

Q: How do you raise the handlebars on a child’s frog bike?


To raise the handlebar on a child’s frog bike, start by removing the top cap and headset bolt. Next, loosen the stem clamp bolt. Pull the handlebar off the bike and add spacers depending on the height of the handlebar. Return the handlebar and tighten the bolts, making sure of the proper alignment to the front wheel.

Q: Can you raise the handlebars on a frog bike?


Yes, you can raise the handlebars on a Frog bike. You have the option to make the handlebar rise or add a longer stem. This way, the bike will be more comfortable, and it can grow along with the user through years of its use.

Q: Can you raise the handlebars on a road bike?


Yes, you can raise the handlebars on a road bike. The process is similar to how you adjust the handlebars on other bikes. This will depend on whether the handlebar has a threadless or threaded stem.

Globo Surf Overview 

Learning how to raise bike handlebars is one skill you need to learn. This is crucial to promoting a better riding position, and hence, avoiding back pain. It will make you more comfortable as it lessens the strain on your body. As noted above, the process will differ depending on if your bike has a threadless or threaded stem.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!