Handlebar risers, sometimes known as stem risers or stem extenders, are handy in raising the handlebar. Generally, these tiny bars allow you to match your handlebars with your height. But are handlebar risers safe?
Handlebar risers are safe as long as they aren’t fitted onto carbon steerer tubes as the tubes are weaker and therefore likely to snap out. They are also safer when used casually on smooth roads and not aggressively on rough roads.
But overall, the safety of handlebar risers depend on their material strength, riser length, amount of force, and how aggressive you ride.
I’ll explain all these factors to help you understand their impact on the stem riser’s life and user safety.
I’ll also explain how these stem extenders work, how to install them, and how you can find the safest option.
Moreover, I’ll talk about the effects that handlebar extenders have on bike handling.
Let’s get started!
Are Handlebar Risers Safe?
While some manufacturers make stem risers for mountain bikes and BMX, I wouldn’t recommend them for that.
The riser is likely to weaken and snap out when you continually perform heavy jumps and go over rocks.
Those bars are not designed to tolerate aggressive use or too much force. So, they are a NO on a rough road.
They are, however, best for casual riding on smooth roads. So, I recommend them for commuter bikes, fixed-gears, road bikes, comfort bikes, beach cruisers, and city bikes.
But overall, the safety of handlebar riser extensions depend on the following:
1. Material Strength
First, you’ve to consider the steerer tube material. Generally, carbon steerer tubes are not best for fitting handlebar risers as they can snap out and break when under stress.
So, avoid carbon steerer tubes and consider other options such as aluminum and steel.
The other consideration is the riser’s material. It also has to be stronger and stress-resistant.
Overall, handlebar risers come in different material choices, all performing differently.
An option like the Origin8 Extra-Lift Stem Riser comes in an aluminum alloy construction to guarantee strength and at the same time save on weight.
While aluminum alloy is a top consideration, Chromoly steel is another safe choice.
Usually, aluminum and Chromoly steel are not a safety concern as their tensile strength and fatigue resistance is higher. They can take on most abuse without bending or breaking.
2. Length of the Bar
While it’s tempting to get the longest stem riser and fit it, it’s never a good idea if its integrity is questionable.
The longer the bar, the likely it is to snap when you apply excessive force or ride aggressively.
Besides, a more extended bar makes handling tricky as it interferes tremendously with your center of gravity.
3. Force Applied
Generally, the chances of the riser snapping out are higher when you put too much force on the handlebar. So, if the strength of the riser is questionable, you shouldn’t exert too much power.
4. How Aggressive You Ride
As I mentioned, I don’t recommend stem risers for mountain biking or BMX racing because they are not best for aggressive usage. They are safe for casual cycling on smoother roads.
How Handlebar Risers Work
Handlebar risers are designed to raise your handlebar and draw it near to your body as much as possible.
So, just like their name is suggesting, they give your handlebars a rise. Handlebar risers usually are small metal bars that fit onto the steerer tube to lift the handlebar.
Of course, you have to set them at your preferred height before bolting the handlebar in place.
You can raise your handlebars by 20-30mm (the benchmark) or anything higher, depending on preference.
But for ease of riding and user safety, it’s advisable to start with the benchmark. If you go higher, there is always the danger of interfering with the handling considerably.
Furthermore, you compromise the integrity of the steer tube and the stem riser.
How to Find the Safest Handlebar Risers
Here are the things to consider when you want to buy the safest stem riser:
- Material Strength
Primarily, the safety of a stem riser depends on the material strength. You’ve to consider a material that’s physically strong to tolerate physical stress.
The material should also resist corrosion in addition to being hard to deform.
That’s the case with aluminum alloy, and no stem illustrates that better than TRIWONDER MTB Stem Extender.
This stem riser is super strong to resist aggressive usage, thus great for mountain biking.
The riser should be adjustable to suit your individual needs. The adjustability primarily reduces wrist pressure as it allows you to cycle more relaxed.
More importantly, the stem riser should allow you to raise the stem to a comfortable height.
- Correct Size
Stem extenders come in different sizes, some longer than others. To ensure that you get a safer pick, choose a comfortable length.
If you plan to ride aggressively, don’t go for a more extended option, as you might weaken it after a few rides.
Overall, some stem extenders are as short as 55mmm, while others are as long as 210mm. So, you can pick anything within the range.
It’s best if you go for a stem riser that’s compatible with your bike.
Note that not all handlebar risers are compatible with all bikes. So, you have to confirm first.
However, some handlebar risers fit most standard bikes, as it’s the case with the LITEONE Bike Stem Riser. This stem riser is compatible with MTBs, road bikes, fixed-gear, BMX, among others.
How Do You Install Handlebar Risers?
Here are the general steps for fitting stem risers on the steerer tube:
- Take off the bike stem – If you have a bike repair stand (View on Amazon), use it in this step.
- Clean the steerer tube – You must get rid of grease and dirt, which you can do with a bicycle degreaser or rubbing alcohol. That’ll ensure that the stem riser will hold firmly.
- Place the riser into place – Now that the steer tube is clean, carefully place the stem riser into it before reintroducing the stem.
- Bolt the upper cap – Use the long bolt on the stem’s upper cap to tighten the stem in place.
- Straighten the stem and handlebar riser – Lastly, try repositioning the two before re-tightening them for a firm hold.
Do Handlebar Risers Affect Handling?
Essentially, handlebar risers are designed to maintain the bike’s geometry and allow you to ride normally. That, however, doesn’t mean that they don’t affect the bike’s handling.
Though you may not notice it, handlebar risers affect the rider’s center of gravity as the bike may become less responsive or slightly tricky to steer off-road.
That’s one reason why they aren’t the best for rough roads.
1. Are Bicycle Handlebar Risers Safe?
Bicycle handlebar risers are safe as long as you don’t ride aggressively and avoid carbon steerer tubes. Carbon steerer tubes are weaker and, therefore, likely to break.
2. Can You Raise Your Handlebars?
You can raise most handlebars by loosening and pulling them up. But if that doesn’t work and you wish to extend the handlebar further, consider using stem risers.
3. What Do Handlebar Risers Do?
Handlebar risers raise the handlebar height and draw it close to your body. With handlebar risers, you can make your handlebars long enough to match your height.
4. Do I Need Handlebar Risers?
If you want to elevate your handlebars beyond the current maximum height, you need handlebar risers. You also need risers if you’re going to pull the handlebars close to you and not just elevate them.
5. Are Stem Risers Any Good?
Stem risers are pretty effective in raising the handlebar. They can, however, break if you ride aggressively or put too much force. So, they are not the best for off-road use, especially mountain biking.
6. What Size Handlebar Risers Do I Need?
Handlebar risers come in different sizes to suit different steerer tubes. You can get them from 55mm to over 200mm.
So, you have to pick a size that matches that of your steer tube.
7. How High Should Bike Handlebars Be?
Your bike handlebars can be as high as you want, depending on your preference. If you’re going to ride aggressively, more so a road bike, the handlebar should be 5-6cm below the saddle’s height.
But if you plan to ride casually, the handlebar should be the same height as the seat or a few cm above it.
8. Should My Bike Seat Be Higher Than The Handlebars?
If you plan to ride a road bike or mountain bike, it’s advisable to position the handlebar slightly higher than the seat.
But if you are plan to ride a hybrid or comfort bike, the seat and the handlebar should be the same height, or the handlebar should be slightly higher.
Are Handlebar Risers Safe? Closing Thought
Provided you pick a more robust material, good size, and adjustable size, handlebar risers are safe. However, you should avoid putting too much force or riding aggressively, compromising the riser’s strength and integrity.