Dec 10 2009
Do you work on your own bikes? Want to save yourself 10 or 15 dollars? What home bike mechanic wouldn’t? Chuck Davis knows where you’re coming from. He runs OK Velo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and recently he showed me how to make a handlebar holder that works like the Park Tool HBH-2. The HBH-2 is hardly the most expensive tool in the line-up, but you can take your savings and put it toward something else, like a new chain, or a box of your favorite plonk.
But what is a handlebar holder? Check it out:
This is one of the handlebar holders Chuck made. And here’s a picture of it in use:
If you’ve lifted your bike off the floor onto a work stand which clamps to the bike frame, you’ll immediately know what this handlebar holder is all about. If you’re still not sure, look here:
The Redline bike is lifted off the ground, and if the handlebar holder wasn’t locking the front end in place, the wheel would most probably swing. This is a nuisance at best when you’re working on a bike, and at worst it can cause frame damage when the handlebar ends—in this case, the bar-end shifters—smack into the top tube.
Look carefully and you’ll see a long length of inner tube looped around one arm of the handlebar holder. That’s a punctured inner tube being recycled for another purpose. In this case, the inner tube can be wrapped under the bike’s top tube and tied off on the other limb of the handlebar holder to make sure that the holder doesn’t shift when the whole bike is rotated in the stand. Here’s a closer shot of the inner tube and handlebar holder:
Sure beats this arrangement, which I used when I had my vintage Schwinn roadie on the work stand:
I used a strap wrapped around the down tube, through the water bottle cage, and through the front wheel to keep the front end from swinging. It wasn’t satisfactory because I couldn’t rotate the wheel to test the brakes, which I was installing.
So, as you can see, a handlebar holder is worth adding to your tool kit. Here’s what you’ll need to buy for one handlebar holder:
- • 4′ of 1/4″ steel rod
- • 4′ of 1/4″ ID Vinyl Tubing
Pretty short list, isn’t it? The rod and tubing can be bought at the local hardware store or at a big box DIY shop. You’ll also need a bench vise or, less satisfactorily, a Black & Decker Workmate or similar work bench. A length of metal pipe held tight in the vise allows you to make smooth bends.
Here’s how to make the handlebar holder:
- 1. Slide the tubing over the steel rod.
- 2. Use a piece of tape to mark the middle of the rod as a guide.
- 3. Bend the rod into a V-shape with the tape at the apex.
- 4. Make successive bends, working from the apex out to the end.
Sliding the tubing over the steel rod might well be the hardest part of the procedure. I’ve heated tubing by holding it in very hot water to make it pliable, then slipped it over hooks, but that might not work for a straight rod. You might want to use a very small amount of dish detergent as a lube, but avoid water because trapped water will lead to rust. Once you’ve managed to put the tubing over the rod, it’s time to shape the handlebar holder. Here’s a schematic diagram to show the sequence of bends:
Of course, this is just a sketch and isn’t drawn to scale, nor are the bends as smooth as you’d want on your handlebar holder. You’ll want the bends to be smoother than shown here. Use the pictures of Chuck’s handlebar holders as models. You can see how bending the rod over a pipe firmly gripped in the bench vise will produce nicely rounded bends. If you don’t have a bench vise, try a Workmate. In this instance, you might wish to substitute aluminum rod for the steel, since bending aluminum isn’t as hard a job and it not as likely to overwhelm the Workmate.
Once you’ve shaped your handlebar holder, dig up an old length of inner tube, loop it over one limb, stand back and admire your handiwork, and raise a glass to Chuck for his formula. Thanks Chuck!