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How to 'change your grips, stem and bars'?
Our recent 'How to' guides have looked at certain, more focused subjects, but in this one, we are not going to look at just one element, but at a few projects that most of the time go hand in hand: we are going to replace the entire control centre on our mountain bike, from grips, via the handlebars all the way to the stem. Even we are going to work through this in one big guide, you can also cherry pick the various sections in case you are only going to replace one or two of the mentioned parts.

More often than not, your mountain bike has some quality components fitted, but sometimes you just want to fit a new part either as the old one is worn out, maybe crash damaged or you simply fancy an upgrade.

As mentioned above, we are going to look at replacing an entire stem/bar/grips set-up, and we are going to take you through the steps starting with the grips.

The parts we used in this guide are our eXotic Meta II stem , eXotic Super Wide Full Carbon Riser bars and the SOLO Lock on Grips .

But before we get going here the tools you need for this job.
- Multitool/allen-keys
- torx keys (depending on what brakes and other components are fitted)
- torque wrench
- carbon assembly paste
- screwdrivers (depending on what components are fitted / not shown)

1.) Let's start with the grips. We have lock-on grips fitted to our bikes. Take the correct allen-key from your multitool (most likely 2 or 3mm) and loosen the screw(s). You probably only need to unscrew them by 2-3 turns before the grips will slide off.

2.) When taking the grips off, you might also have the end cap pop out. If you don't have end caps for your new grips, then please keep these on the side as you will need them later on.

3.) Before you take the brake levers and shifters off, it might be helpful to take a picture from above and from the site, so that you have a record of your preferred position and angles (for example angle of the brake levers and the angle/position of the bar). This will make setting up the brake levers and shifters on the new handlebar easier.

4.) Unscrew the bolt that clamps the brake lever to the bar. Depending on what system you are using, this might also loosen the shifter (if brake lever and shifter are clamped together). If your shifter is clamped separately, then please unscrew this as well. If your brakes and shifters have an open clamp (a clamp that you can open up for easier installation) then please unscrew the bolts all the way. Remove the brake levers, shifters and other fitted levers/brackets (for example dropper post lever or GPS bracket). There is no need to disconnect the cables and hoses from the levers/shifters. NOTE: If you are going from a very narrow to a very wide bar, you might need to fit new brake hoses/cables, gear cables and cables for other accessories as the short cables might restrict the free movement of the new bars.

5.) Remove the headset top cap with the appropriate allen-key (most likely a 4mm) and remember how many spacers you have placed under your stem or/and top cap. This will make it easier to find your preferred position again.

6.) Unscrew the stem bolts (2-3 turns should be enough) so that you can slide the stem upwards and off the fork steerer. (Note: The top cap on the image shown below, should have been removed by now.) Please make sure the fork/wheel does not drop out of the bike in case you are doing this on a bike stand where the wheel is elevated.

7.) Now you should have a 'clean canvas' to start fitting your new stem, bars and grips.

8.) In case you have removed your spacers from underneath your stem, please put them back on. As a starting point, we would recommend to start with the same amount of spacers as you had on your preferred set-up.

9.) After the spacers, please fit the new stem. If any steerer should show above the stem, please fit the right amount of spacers so that the stem can be clamped down sufficiently. This is important to avoid any play in your headset. Please also note that the top of the steerer should sit above the top bolt of your stem, to give sufficient grip. Also, make sure that you have the stem in the correct 'angle' position. Some stems can either be run in a (for example) +5° or -5° position.

10.) Once everything is fitted back onto the steerer, please straighten the stem (so that it is pointing in the same direction as the front wheel).

11.) Put the stem top cap back into place and use the bolt to push the stem/spacers together and onto the stem. Please slowly tighten making sure that you hit the 'sweet spot' between a free spinning headset and no play in your headset. We will return to the headset set-up later on.

12.) With no play remaining and a free spinning headset, please use your torque wrench to tighten the stem's steerer clamp bolts at 7 Nm.

13.) Now it is time to fit the handlebar. Please make sure that the clamp size of your bars and the clamp size of your stem matches.

14.) Please remove the four bolts of the handlebar clamp. We are fitting a carbon handlebar, so if possible, please apply a thin layer of carbon assembly paste on the areas where the bar is going to be in contact with the stem.

15.) Holding the bar with your free hand, please put the stem faceplate back into place and tighten the 4 bolts back into the stem.

16.) Use your torque wrench to tighten the handlebar clamp bolts at 6 Nm. Please make sure that the faceplate sits in a central position over the bar and that the gaps between the stem and the faceplate are the same for the 2 bolts at the top as well as for the 2 bolts at the bottom.

17.) Starting with the items which are more inboard, please put the various levers and brackets in place. As the bike we are doing this on is a Shimano equipped e-bike, we are starting with the display that sits next to the stem.

18.) Following the more inboard placed items, now put the brakes and levers in place. If you can't find the exact order and position, please refer back to the photo you took before you started taking items off - see point 3.

19.) Fix the various items in place but please don't tighten them fully as we will do the final positioning and angles at the very end.

20.) After the brakes and shifters have gone back on, please fit the grips. Make sure that they go all the way on so that the end of the bar is flush with the end of the grip. Tighten the grips down using the appropriate allen-key. Please make sure that you can't twist the grips, but also ensure that you are not over clamping them as that might damage the bars. Ideally, you position the grips so that the clamp bolts are at the underside of the bar.

21.) Please make sure that you fit the end plus back on.

22.) Now everything is back in place, please put the bike back on the floor (assuming you have done the whole project using a bike stand) as that will make the final checks easier.

23.) Starting with the bar, please make sure it is in the right position for you. If not, please rotate it backwards or forwards by slightly loosening the 4 bolts of the stem faceplate. This should give you enough freedom to find the right position. Please also check that the bar is centred within the stem.

24.) Once that is correct, please use your torque wrench to tighten all four bolts - see step 16 for details.

25.) Looking at the picture that you have taken earlier (see point 3), please check that every component is in the right place and is in the right position and angle as well. Once everything is correct, please tighten the components down. Please make sure you don't over tighten them.

26.) Now the last thing to check is the stem and the play in the headset.

27.) To check if you have any play in the headset, please apply the front brake when both wheels are on the ground and slowly rock the bike back and forth. You might detect a little knocking every time you do that which is an indicator that you have play in the headset and that your headset needs to be tightened down slightly (see step 28.). If you have no play/knocking, then please check that the headset spins freely.

28.) To sort out the play in the headset, please slightly loosen the stem bolts that clamp the stem to the steerer tube. Now slowly tighten down the headset bolt. Please do this in small steps (1/2 turns) and regularly check if the play/knocking is still there.

29.) Once the play has been eliminated, and the headset spins freely, please finally check that the stem is perfectly in line with the front wheel.

30.) If that is the case, please use your torque wrench and tighten the stem bolts that clamp the headset to the steerer with a torque setting of 7 Nm.

31.) That's it. Before you go for your first please check all bolts are tight and that all the components are working properly.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact us via:

Please note that our 'How to…' guides are only advisory and that we cannot be held accountable for any damage or cost in relation to this article. If you use the information in this document, you take full responsibility for the outcome. If you are at all unsure please have a qualified bicycle mechanic do this job for you. Incorrect installation can lead to failure and serious injury.

by Mikethebike     Tue Dec 11, 2018

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