Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Integrated Handlebar Heartache

Here is a tip.  If you operate a Bike shop and somebody comes in and asks you to /just replace the Handlebars/ then remind them it's not just that simple.

Changing an Integrated Handlebar/ Headset on a modern bicycle is a complete pain in the whatsit.

How painful?  Well it takes about the same time as the whole rest of bicycle assembly ....

Why Bother?
For the smallest moment when my beautiful Integrated Headset developed a hairline crack I considered not doing anything until the crack got a lot larger because this is /only/ a flesh wound I told myself.

And then I thought:  Are you a complete idiot!

Failure of the headset whilst cycling at any speed could lead to a serious accident and injury, and around our home town of Lausanne Switzerland with its numerous steep mountain descents, the consequences could be really ugly....





So, the old Carbon handlebars and alloy headset that were on sale by me for peanuts at the Swiss site anibis were rescued.  I withdrew the advertisements.




Mounting the old components is trivial and takes but a few minutes.  But now the annoyances start




Old integrated headset dangles.   The cables are so tightly wedged in that I can't move them at all



A lot of minutes and swearing later I simply slice through all the cables and sheathes with a cutter.  So now I'm going to have to definitely replace everything.  Headset, Handlebars, brake and gear cables and casing sheathes.  Grrr.





Shimano sell the Road Brake and Road Gear Cable set separately.  Luckily I had spares of each in the emergency parts store.  For reordering I'd recommend

Shimano Road Brake Cable Set
Shimano Road Gear Cable Set






Getting Dura Ace levers on is a non trivial business. In fact it took 2 people and a lot more swearing.   The single hex bolt female that attaches the levers has to be to tightened through the side of a stretching hood onto a cheap looking support threaded male threaded bracket that you slide onto the handlebars.

It just kept spinning and not catching.





Eventually both levers are installed, and Marcus has managed to tear both left and right Dura Ace hoods.



Obviously there is a right and left lever.  You have to mount the wires first, gear and brake on each lever, then screw it to the handlebars.

Traditionally these days left lever controls the front brake and the right lever operates the rear brake





You have to remove the base plate to get to the internal cables.

Feeding the cables through would be an almost impossible process but I had some /guide tubes/.   These are hollow plastic tubes that  can take inside hold the real brake or gear cable


  1. With the old cables installed
  2. Thread  the guide tube OVER the old cable, lets take the rear brake cable as an example, which goes inside the frame
  3. Now disconnect both ends of the old brake cable, (one end is cut, the other remove from rear brake)
  4. Now remove the old brake cable, leaving the guide tube poking out of the internal frame points
  5. Now thread the new brake cable from the handlebars, inside the guide cable
  6. Once the brake cable is installed, pull out the guide tube
Using a hollow guide tube saves a HUGE amount of time and buggering about.




Another great pacifier was the trusty iPod playing calming tunes as I have now spent over 5 hours trying to install everything.





Notice on these handlebars there is a special track holder for the cables


Also as wired I can group 2 cables together on left and right levers.  I used duct tape to stick them together.

What might not be too obvious is that you need to cut the sheathes coming out of the hoods and going to the front frame holes to exactly the right length, and if it's too long, as it was in my case you need to pull out the brake/gear cables,  and remove the sheath and cut it down.

But: when you remove any cable you have to reinstall the /guide tube/.

So any misjudgement of the external cable sheathes is really time consuming to fix.



Here are the internal gear cables, top one is the front mech and the bottom one goes to the right and then inside the frame (aaargh) to the back derailleur.  

Internal cabling: Looks great, but it's a nightmare to install.





 At last rear dérailleur cable is installed





Wow, the cabling looks so neat, if I say so myself.






Finally the Handlebar tape is on.  Again, this is a really easy part, once the cables and sheathes are correctly installed with the correct lengths.



 All is done?  Oh wait .. triathlon bars




 Initial installation of tri bars as previous.


I re rode the route on which the crack first appeared on the new headset.   60Km later all looks good  (I mean on the bicycle, personally I was exhausted)




I got a call saying that the Triathlon rules now say that the bars cannot protrude past the gear hoods.  Are you blinking serious!




 Before the big chop




Now trimmed down to size, saving 10 grams, but also almost uselessly short!






Okay now all is pretty much done.  I will perform about 500Km of testing before I am happy that everything is in tip top condition.