Why my Bike Handlebars won’t stay tight?

Cycles are a requirement for many forms of people, and they all serve different reasons to ride their bikes. Some are enthusiasts, some are casual users, and some ride it on rough terrains or for their work.

But, it is an absolute nightmare if your Bike’s handles are not tight enough. It may seem like I am exaggerating, but it could potentially be dangerous for your life if you ride having your handles loosened.

The unmanageable feel will not only be dangerous but also will give you an uncomfortable experience. 

I have had friends who are consistent cycle users, and they almost have close accidents that could’ve been fatal. Now, let us talk about some of the ways for handlebars to tighten as well as some troubleshooting steps.  

Why won’t handlebars stay tight?

Handlebars won't stay tight

It is necessary for you to identify the issues as you have been feeling uncomfortable and unsteady riding your bike. There is surely a possibility of crashing or endangering yourself if you’re not careful about identifying what’s wrong.

One of the common issues for your handlebars to stay tight is if the bolts have been screwed way too hard without anyone’s caution after your regular maintenance. This is easy to identify and fix.

As we go further, I will share a few more reasons why your handlebars are staying tight. Stay with me and hopefully, your issues will surely be solved.

1. Handlebar Rotation 

If you see that your handlebars are rotating too much from what your muscle memory can recall, then it usually happens because the surface to which your handlebars are connected is becoming wobbly.

The reason for this to happen is because the paint on the surfaces is working as a lubricant which is causing the handle as the surface connecting to it to slip.

2. Loose Top headset

Realizing your handlebars are loosened, what you can do then is grab your two handles holding your brakes and gently shake them a bit. You then might sense a bit of shakiness in the headset’s attachment to the stem.

The attachment to the stem and the headset could be pretty loose. It could even be visible if the disparity in tightness is long. It is one of the fundamental issues that happens to every bike user. It does not require anything complicated to fix.

3. Wide Handlebar issue

Why won’t handlebars stay tight

Now, this issue is quite common for tall bike users and for users who put a lot of pressure on their handles. You might ride the bike really fast or add a lot of pressure on your handles to stress-relieving.

Still, it does affect your handlebar to loosen. It could often get loosened to the point that it’s freely moving or not staying in its usual position. This requires a few technical steps, but I believe you can easily do it with the proper guidance. 

4. Overtightening the bolts

After your typical maintenance, which you probably do once a week or once a month, you may notice a lot of restraint while riding your bike. It may seem that you are not able to rotate your handles, and the feeling of smooth riding isn’t there.

In that case, after your bike’s maintenance, your bolts attached to the stem to the handlebars have been overtightened. This one is also isn’t really a big issue and can be dealt with if the proper tools are there with you.

How do you fix loose handlebars (troubleshooting tips)

how do you fix loose handlebars

It is necessary to find the proper troubleshooting techniques for your bike to operate how it always used to. Now let us talk about some of the doable ways to fix your bike handles from getting loose.

1. Getting sandpaper

From what I have said before, if you see that your handlebars are wobbling unevenly, then it is possible that the handlebars and the surface connecting to them aren’t well attached and the reason for it is the paint usually.

The paint, being on both the handlebar and the stem’s surfaces, is causing your handlebars to slip. It is basically working as a lubricant and making your riding experience difficult as the days are going on. To solve this problem, you need to do is get sandpapers.

Rub the sandpapers on the surface of the stem, and that should remove the paint and get away with the lubrication, letting you ride with grippy handlebars again. 

2. Top headset issue

After sensing the shakiness, you can also see that the joints between the headset and the surface are not connected well. This happens due to a loose headset. It can be solved quickly but will require trying a couple of times to finally fix it.

You are required to purchase a torque wrench and Allen keys to solve this issue unless you have them. At first, with the help of Allen keys, you need to loosen the bolts of the stem for proper alignment with the headset. It will require a bit of trial and error for appropriate attachment and alignment.

After the alignment is done, then you need the torque wrench. You should tighten the screws with the torque as advised by the bike manufacturer, but if you cannot find it, it is suggested not to go past 6 mm. Your handlebars should get fixed by now.

3. Wide handlebar fix

Now, this is a rather technical issue to fix out of all the fixes as it will require a lot of work with many tools. After seeing that that handlebar can’t seem to stay in a place then, you can try to put a screw inside the bicycle handlebar.

Before doing this, you should know that you have to check the other fixes and other issues your bike may have. To apply this fix, you need a drill machine, some screws based on your handles, and a chuck.

You will create holes with the drill machine and then create adjustable holes for the screws to insert. Then finally you insert the screw with a Phillips screwdriver. And, that should make your handlebars stay in a fixed position

4. Overtightening bolts issues

Too much tightening will obviously make your bike too rigid to ride. It is never done intentionally or with the intent to make your riding experience terrible, but it is done rather as a way to keep your bike in a robust state.

The task is simple it is your job to identify if the headset bolts are too tight or if the stem bolts are tight enough and not. Then through the process of trial and error, you need to find your preferred suite of tightening. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you over-tighten handlebars?

Yes, absolutely you can over-tightening the bars can ruin your biking experience and sometimes can even ruin the bolts.

What tool do I need to tighten or loosen handlebars?

All you would need is Allen keys. 


So, by now, you should know a fair share of things about handlebars regarding your bike. You should know many of the issues and the troubleshooting steps.

While one or two steps might be a bit complicated to fix, the others don’t require much effort, and some even get fixed with your basic Phillips screwdriver or Allen keys. 

Next time, if any of the problems arise, I don’t really think that you would be bothered as you are aware of the fixes. 

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