Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on how to cut bicycle handlebars:
Gather your materials.
- Ruler, Tape Measure or other method of measuring cutting depth
- Marker or way to mark cut point
- Hacksaw with appropriate blade
- Foaming cleaner or soapy water (when cutting carbon)
- File or deburring tool (metal) or sandpaper/emery board (carbon) or sand paper
- Protective glasses
- Bike Stand
Determine best bar width for you.
When choosing a new handlebar width, be conservative. It is always possible to remove more later. Also be sure to reduce width evenly — when shortening bars by 40mm total, cut 20mm from each side. There are a couple methods that can be used to determine bar width — here are our favorites:
- Sit on the bike. Close your eyes (make sure the bike is stable), reach out and grab the handlebars at a position that feels right. Take a measurement of the excess length of the grip starting at the outer edge of your hand. Subtract at least 10 mm from this number to allow yourself some extra margin — again, be conservative. This number is the amount you will remove from each end of the handlebar. Or
- Push Up Method. This technique will require a helping hand. Prepare to do a push-up, with your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart. Have someone measure the positioning of your hands, from the outside of one hand to the other. Again, add 20 mm for a comfortable margin, and you have the ideal total width of your handlebars.
Prepare to Cut
- Remove your handlebars from the bike and remove all accessories from the handlebars. Leaving the bars on the bike is a bad idea because small metal flakes can make their way into the fork stanchions or carbon dust can get on your bike.
- Place the handlebars on a countertop.
- Measure the appropriate width and put a piece of tape where you will cut. For example, if trimming your bars down 20mm, it will be 10 mm on each side. Make sure the tape is even.
Cutting the Handlebar
- For an ALUMINUM BAR, use a pipe cutter to make an even trim on both sides. File sharp edges. Pipe cleaners make for a simple cut without having to use a hacksaw.
- For a CARBON BAR, use a hacksaw with a tungsten carbide blade. Place masking tape over the cut mark and make a mark on top of the masking tape. This will prevent the carbon from fraying. NOTE: Carbon dust is harmful to your lungs. To avoid health problems, apply a foaming cleaner to the cut point before cutting. Reapply to the cut point regularly throughout the procedure to prevent dust from going airborne. You can use soapy water, but foam such as window cleaner or shaving cream is most effective.
- Place the handlebars in a bike stand and clamp down so they are parallel with the floor.
- Use a lock-on grip as a guide if using a hacksaw to ensure a straight cut. Use smooth strokes for a clean cut using a hacksaw and file any sharp edges.
Reassemble the handlebars
- Put your bars back on your bike, add grips and accessories, reverse the removal process.
- Check out Bike Handlebar Grip Installation tips.
- If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself or don’t have the right supplies, a bike shop will be happy to help you out.
By following these steps, you can easily cut your bicycle handlebars to the perfect length for your needs. Just be sure to take your time and be careful, and you will have a perfectly customized bike in no time. Now get your shred on!
Our friends at Park Tool made a great video on how to DIY cut your handlebars.