How to Raise Handlebars on Mountain Bike

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If you bought a new mountain bike and it’s just not very comfortable, and you think that the issue lies with the handlebars being too low down, then you may need to raise them up.

On that same note, if you bought your kid a mountain bike a few years back and your child is now growing, you might need to continuously raise the handlebars in order to allow your growing child to keep using that bike.

Raising the handlebars on a mountain bike does take the right know-how, and this is exactly what we are here to teach you right now.

Raising the Handlebars on a Threadless Stem

The first type of stem that you need to know about is the threadless stem. These stems feature one big bolt on the top and two smaller bolts that help clamp the stem down to the rest of the frame. Just keep in mind that these really can’t move all that much, so the distance that they can be raised is quite limited. To raise the handlebars on this type of stem, follow the instructions as listed below.

  1. The first step here is to take an Allen key to remove the bolt off of the stem cap. This is the bolt that keeps the handlebars securely on the stem of the bike. You need to remove this in order to raise or lower your handlebars. Use your Allen key to remove the long bolt and then take the cap off. Keep them aside for later.
  2. Now you will want to use that same Allen Key to loosen both of the bolts on the sides of the stem. These are the two bolts that are closest to the seat. You don’t need to totally remove them, but you do need to loosen them enough to remove the handlebars and stem off of the frame.
  3. You can now remove the handlebars. Just be careful that you don’t bend anything. Make sure to remember that the brake cables and gear cables are still attached so you can’t move the handlebars too far from the bike.
  4. What you will now need are some circular risers. These are little spacers that you can add to the stem in order to raise the handlebars. You will need to purchase some of these small rings and add them onto the tube on the frame in order to raise the handlebars. Once you have achieved the desired height, you can then move on to the next step.
  5. You can now slide the handlebar stem back down over those spacers.
  6. Now you want to put the handlebars and the stem bolt cap back on and then tighten it using your Allen Key. Remember that the top bolt doesn’t have to be tightened to an extreme level. As tight as you can get it by hand is just fine.
  7. You now want to stand over the frame, with the frame between your legs, and squeeze the frame in your legs. You are now going to align the handlebars with the front wheel. Make sure that the handlebars are at 100% totally aligned with the front wheel.
  8. You can now use your Allen key to tighten those two side bolts.
How to Raise Handlebars on Mountain Bike

Raising the Handlebars on a Threaded Stem

If you see that there is just one continuous metal piece that comes up out of the frame and then bends forward and attaches to the handlebars, then what you have is a threaded headset. To raise the handlebars on this type of bike, follow the instructions as listed below.

  1. You will need to use an Allen key to loosen the bolt that points straight down into the frame. You don’t need to remove it all the way.
  2. You will then use a wrench to loosen the locknut, which is the ring where the frame meets the stem.
  3. You can now pull the handlebars out of the frame. At this point you will want to mark the location to which you will reinsert them. Or in other words, this is where you will decide on the height.
  4. Get a rag in some soapy water and just clean down the stem a little bit to remove any grease or else it will make it difficult to reinsert the handlebars and to achieve the right height.
  5. Reinsert the handlebars and then tighten everything to the proper tightness. Make sure to align the front tire with the handlebars before tightening. Remember that hand tightness is usually more than enough. You don’t want to tighten it so much that you can then never undo it later on.

A Side Note

Some bikes that feature a threadless stem may also have an additional feature where you can also adjust the angle of the handlebars. If this is the case, all you need to do is to use an Allen key to loosen that extra little bolt that you will see on the front of the handlebars on the front side of the stem. You can then adjust the angle of the handlebars and then re tighten that bolt.


Now that you know how to raise the handlebars on your mountain bike, you should have no reason for riding in discomfort. Raise those handlebars up so that your back isn’t too far bent over!

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