How to Raise Handlebars on Specialized Mountain Bike?

Specialized is one of the most reliable bike brands among riders, especially for hill tracks.

Since it manufactures some distinct bike parts, it’s a bit costly to tune or fit them.

Moreover, most small local bike shops don’t have the expertise of fitting specialized MTBs.

Same for the handlebar. Specialized MTBs feature a headset/stem, which is a bit different from other brands’ handlebars.

That’s why local shops charge excessive amounts while adjusting or swapping stems of specialized bikes.

As it’s not pocket-friendly to fix the handlebar on a repair shop, it’s better to DIY. And how to do it? Well, that is what the post is all about.

Be patient if you wanna learn how to raise the handlebar on specialized mountain bikes in zero bucks with minimum effort.

Why Should I Raise Handlebars on Specialized Mountain Bikes?

Well, neither it’s about an MTB, nor it’s about Specialized bikes. Every bike needs to be fitted to get the ultimate comfort and best performance.

However, if the handlebar is too low, your sitting position won’t be correct. Thus, you will have back pain and also won’t get the expected performance from your bike.

So, you will need to raise the handlebar to ensure a comfortable sitting position where the pedaling efficiency will be highest.

Anyways, I had described the importance of optimum handlebar position earlier on my Bike Sizing & Fitting Guide, so not gonna explain again.

A Quick Overview on Handlebar Adjustment

Adjustment Handlebars on Specialized Mountain Bike

When I am talking about handlebar adjustment, actually, it refers to stem tuning. Most of the bikes feature either quill stem or threadless stem.

Handlebars with a quill stem are easier to adjust. Just loosen the bolt and raise the bar, then re-tighten it.

But, a threadless stem has a bit complicated mechanism and needs some special tools to adjust or swap.

Anyways, most mountain bikes from Specialized feature threadless stems. You can either adjust the stem by adjusting the spacer location or replace the stem itself.

However, the saddle position is also crucial, along with handlebar height. If you want to know more about it, jump into the FAQ section.

3 Proven Tips to Raise Handlebars on Specialized Mountain Bike

Especial processes are involved in the threadless stem adjustment. So, some special tools are necessary to do the job. Get them ready before you jump into the real stuff.

  1. Hex Wrenches: Get a set of hex wrenches and check which size is compatible with the top cap’s bolt.
  1. Torque Wrench: A 4-6Nm torque wrench should be suitable for every stem bolt.
  1. Grease: You can apply grease to the bolts to protect them from rust or thread break.
  1. Zip Ties: Zip ties or similar straps to hold the handle and fork and prevent them from falling.
  1. Assembly Compound: If you have a carbon handlebar, it’s a must. It imparts cohesion between components and increases grip between them.
  1. Repair Stand (Optional): You can perform the repair work on a repair stand for convenience.

Now, follow these below tips to get the handlebar adjusted and ride with comfort on your MTB.

Tip-1: Understand the Fitting

rise Handlebars on Specialized Mountain Bike

I hope you have already read our Bike Sizing & Fitting Guide. For an MTB, you have to ensure a comfortable upright position.

So, first, you need to understand which factors influence the sitting position. Height of the handlebar off course. But the stem length and stem angle also manipulate the sitting position.

So, if you need a minor adjustment, just mount the stem at a 1 to 20-degree angle.

For raising the handlebar higher, realign the spacer orientation.

It’s better to replace the steam with a smaller one if you want a significant change in handlebar height.

However, sit on the saddle and determine how much you have to raise the handlebar to acquire a comfortable position.

Tip-2: Adjust the Stem

Hope you have determined the required height of the handlebar by now.

If you haven’t done it yet, use a measuring tape to measure the height of the handlebar and add the raise required to estimate the total height required.

Now go step by step to adjust the handlebar height.

1. Firstly, set the bike to a repair stand or stand it on the ground. Then loosen the faceplate bolts.

Before that, don’t forget to tie the handlebar to the frame with zip ties.

It helps to prevent the bar from fall and protect the housing cable from damage.

2. Secondly, loosen the pinch bolts slightly but don’t unthread fully. Then tie the fork too with zip ties.

It’s necessary, especially when you are working on a repair stand. Otherwise, the fork will fall the cables will damage.

3. Then, take a compatible hex key for the top cap bolt. Loosen it and remove the top cap.

4. The following stuff is adjusting the spacer alignment. Ensure that all components through the steerer tube are sealed, and there is no gap between the spacers and the steerer tube opening.

5. Now, realign the spacers to raise up the stem. Make sure the stem is around 3 mm above the top of the steerer tube.

If the stem is down of the steerer tube’s top, then head-setting is impossible.

However, if the stem is more than 3mm above the steerer tube, use an extra 3mm spacer over it.

You can also use a spacer at the bottom of the stem. Lastly, apply grease to the top cap bolt and re-tighten it.

6. Then, apply the assembly component to the handlebar and faceplate. Also, don’t forget to apply grease to the bolts.

Now, place the faceplate accordingly and tighten it but don’t thread it fully.

Rotate the bar so that the brake lever gets placed at your preferred angle. Also, ensure the correct alignment of the bar through the horizontal axis.

Most handlebars have midpoint marks. So, it shouldn’t be difficult. Finally, tighten the faceplate fully but, make sure the pressure is always even through the bolts.

7. After that, retighten the top cap and diagnose the steerer. For that, lift up the front part of your bike and turn the handlebar.

If it can move freely, then the steerer is okay. If it is showing slight resistance on rotation, loosen the cap bolt a quarter turn.

Recheck the rotation and repeat the procedure until there is no resistance on rotation.

8. Finally, it’s time to re-tighten the pinch bolts. Before that, straighten the handlebar. You can use a straight ruler for help.

Set it on the fork and observe the bar from above. Then align it parallel to the ruler. Now tighten the pinch bolts.

Then, recheck the head-setting. Jerk the stem back and forth and check if there is any knocking sound.

If there is noise, tighten the pinch bolts with a one-quarter turn. Lastly, torque the pinch bolts with a 4-6 Nm torque wrench.

Note: You may need an extra spacer for the job. So, it’s better to get some Spare Spacer. However, there are various types, sizes, colors, or materials of spacers. Do your research and get the spacers that are compatible with your bike.

Tip-3: Replace the Stem

If stem adjustment is not enough to raise the handlebar, then replace it with a smaller one. However, stems come in various sizes.

So, consider the diameter of the handlebar and steerer tube before buying a stem for your MTB.

Also, consider the component and cross-check the compatibility information. For that, read the manufacturer guideline of your bike.

Anyways, after getting the perfect stem, remove the old one and install the new one according to the adjustment process described in tip-2.

Frequently Asked Questions about Handlebar Adjustment

How high should my handlebars be on my mountain bike?

The handlebar should be at the same height or higher than the saddle of your mountain bike.

If the handlebar is lower than the saddle, it won’t be comfortable to ride the bike.

Besides, stretching on legs can occur, and you may get injured on thighs or back legs.

Should bike seats be higher than handlebars?

As comfort is the prime focus for a mountain bike, ensuring that the handlebar is higher than the seat is compulsory.

However, you can keep the seat more elevated than the handlebar on a road bike to acquire an aggressive position.

But, it won’t be comfortable at all. So, It’s better to keep the bar level to the seat.

What is the easiest way to adjust handlebars?

Realigning the spacer is the easiest way to adjust the handlebar. When you need to raise or depress the handlebar, realign the spacer first.

If it is not enough, then, go for the adjustment solution.

Conclusion

You may wonder why Specialized is manufacturing such bike parts that are difficult to swap. But, see the good side of it.

When the bike parts are not easy to change and have unique characteristics, duplicating them is difficult.

Specialized is a reputed bike brand. So, they don’t want their product to be cloned by cheap manufacturers. This is how Specialized offers you the most authentic bike parts. 

However, I recommend buying bike parts from verified sellers. Thus, you can get the original stem or stem accessories.

Anyways, it’s true that raising the handlebar on a Specialized’s MTB is a bit tricky.

But, the method I described above will help you to make it simple. I hope it won’t be too difficult to do the job by now.

So? Raise your handlebar and get ready to bang on track!

Cheers!