We were confronted today with a problem that no cyclist should ever have to deal with: broken handlebars. Handlebars are a simple non-moving part, meaning that pretty much the only way they can break is to fail catastrophically, leaving the rider little or no control over the front of the bike and making a crash all but inevitable if the rider is travelling at any speed. Obviously this can be lethal. Pedaller’s Arms member Kira came in today with precisely this problem. Below is an image of it and a brief description of the solution.
Why did this happen? Because the bars are cheap, thin-walled aluminium. The rider had not used the bike for anything more than what the bike was designed. Because aluminium suffers from fatigue, it just broke off one day. Fortunately for Kira, she was just setting off when this was happened, so no accident ensued. There is online discussion about the impact of aluminium fatigue on cyclists.
The company responsible for such dangerous equipment? C8, whose website tellingly uses sex to sell its bikes rather than any useful information about the actual hardware they are pedalling to the public, should be named and shamed for selling such poor quality equipment. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but the drive side crank arm also broke on the same bike a few weeks before.
The solution is very simple: unscrew the stem bolts, remove the broken handlebar and put a new, stronger one in. The brakes and handlebar grips can then be transferred onto the new bar.
This was made a little more complicated by the fact that the original had narrow bars, which suited the rider. So we got out a ruler and a scribe (to mark the amount to take off on both sides of the new bar) and used a hacksaw to take the bars down to a thinner width.
The final note is a sobering one: watch out for weak parts on your bike! In this case it wasn’t any fault of the rider. All this does make you think: test riding and try applying some force to the bike when it is parked in an attempt to check if weak parts fail is surely better than waiting for failures to happen when doing 20 mph on a busy road.