How to Fix Crooked Bicycle Handlebars

Young man repairing bicycle in bicycle shop

Crooked or misaligned handlebars can happen when you crash your bike, drop it on its side, accidentally knock it over or when bolts come loose by themselves. Three bolts secure the handlebars to the bike. One or two handlebar clamp bolts hold the handlebars to the headset, while a headset clamp bolt aligns the headset with the frame. Road and mountain bike handlebars are almost exactly the same when it comes to fixing them.

Insert a 5 mm Allen key into the handlebar clamp bolts and turn them counterclockwise until they are just barely loose. If the 5 mm is too small, work with a 6 mm instead.

Loosen the headset clamp bolt with the 5 or 6 mm Allen key. Also known as an expander bolt, this tightens the headset on the bike.

Place your foot on the ground at the base of the tire to keep it from moving. Grasp the handlebars with both hands and turn them in the direction needed to align them with the bike frame. Lean over the bike and sight down the top tube. If needed, tap the handlebars lightly with your hand until they are square with the frame.

Tighten the handlebar clamp bolts semi-tight. Tighten the headset clamp bot until its secure, employing a moderate amount of force. Return to the handlebar clamp bolts and complete tightening them using a moderate amount of force.


If you feel that you can't get the handlebars straight from where you are standing, have an assistant hold the front wheel. Get behind the bike, lean down and sight up the bike from back to front.