Drop the Drop Bars! Changing handlebars is easy!

Convert your speed bike into a comfy upright city cruiser

After putting new upright bars on my bike last year, my boyfriend had been fantasizing outloud for a while about how much nicer his bike would be if he didn’t have to hunch over his drop bars. I decided to be nice and finally install some fancy new upright bars for him. Its REALLY easy.

Here is how:

1. Gather supplies

  • Allan keys and screw drivers. (Some bikes are fancy and you wont need a screw driver!)
  • new handle bars
  • grips (optional for now, recommended eventually)
  • new  brake cables – because the ones from your drop bars will likely be too short.
  • new brake cable housing
  • new brake levers
  • tin snips or something to cut the cable and cable housing

New/used parts cost about $30 from Our Community bikes.The handle bars and brake cables were new; the brake levers and cable housing was used.

Change handle bars

New parts.


2. Detach the brake cables from the brakes

Change handle bars

Detach brake cables from brakes.

Change handle bars

Unattached brake cables.


3. Remove old brake and grip tape from one half of the handlebar.

If the grip tape is in acceptable enough condition for you, save it to make some custom grips for your new upright bars!

Change handle bars

Unravel grip tape

Change handle bars

Remove interrupter brake if it exists

Change handle bars

The hex screw for to loosen the drop brake is hidden inside. Use an allan key to loosen the drop brake. A longer key is useful here.

Change handle bars

Use an allan key to loosen the drop brake. A longer key is useful here.

Change handle bars

One only needs to strip half of the bar.


4. Loosen the screw on the front of the stem if you have a quill stem (the older kind). Slide the handle bars off of the stem.

If you have a newer kind of stem, remove the plate holding the handle bars on and they will come off easily without having to be slid off.

Change handle bars

You may need to wedge the stem open somehow to allow the tight curves of the drop bars to move through.


5. Slide new handlebars onto the stem and tighten the front stem screw.


6. Attach brake levers to new bars.

Change handle bars

Attach new bars and brake levers.


7. Make sure the brake cable housing doesn’t have any inward-pointing barbs.

Change handle bars

Make sure the brake cable housing doesn’t have any inward-pointing barbs.


8. Thread brake cable housing to the back brake and trim it.

Remember allow for enough length so that your handle bars can move freely. Do the same for the front brakes. Remember typically front brakes are on the left-hand side and rear brakes are on the right hand side.


9. Thread the brake levers and brake cable housing with the brake cable.

Change handle bars

Thread brake cable through brakes and housing.

Change handle bars

Attach the cable to the brake levers.


10. Attach the brake cables to the brakes.


11. Thread the cable through the cable clamp nut.


12. Hold the brakes closed while pulling the cable tight.

This is probably the hardest part. Extra hands will be useful!


13. Tighten the nut and trim the cable.


14. Test brakes to make sure they are tight enough.


Ta dah! You are now done!

Change handlebars

Now your bike will spoon really nicely with other bikes that have upright bars!


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