Raising handlebars on Vintage Electric Cafe e-bike?

Chibbie

Member
Region
USA
Hello,

I have a Vintage Electric Cafe. I’d like to raise the handlebars by maybe 1.5-2 inches to get in a bit more of an upright position and decrease the reach. I already have the seat forward as far as it will go and the seat is positioned correctly in terms of height (I have long-ish legs and short-ish arms for my overall height of 5’9”).

I am a complete newbie to bike maintenance/upgrades, but I figured out how to raise the handlebars by unscrewing the locking nut on top of the stem. The issue is that that leaves a gap between the bottom of the stem and the top of the tube. That gap strikes me as problematic because it’s unsightly; it will admit water; and it seems potentially dangerous, in that the handlebars might slam down to close that gap.

Both my local bike shop and Vintage said I should get a new stem that’s longer (like this one:

But aren’t there also rings/washers/spacers that could be used on the existing stem to raise it? If so, wouldn’t that be a simpler solution? And how do I find which ones would fit?

Or am I missing something and I really do need to replace the entire stem in order to raise the handlebars?

Thanks for any insights!
 

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Did you consider replacing the handlebar instead. A dutch or a classic handlebar will look appropriate on your vintage bike and will move the handles higher and closer to you.
 
Did you consider replacing the handlebar instead. A dutch or a classic handlebar will look appropriate on your vintage bike and will move the handles higher and closer to you.
Hm. No, that hadn’t occurred to me! I don’t think I want a Dutch-style handlebar on this bike, though. I don’t want to be Dutch-style upright; just a bit more upright with shorter reach than currently. But I’ll look into it, thanks!
 
Thanks. Going back to my original question: assuming that I don’t want to switch the handlebars but just want to raise the existing handlebars, is a new stem result the only way to do it? Or are there rings/spacers/washers that could be used to raise it?
 
You can lower it by cutting the fork steerer and remove the 2 rings, but it's impossible to extend the fork steerer tube without an additional raiser. You can look for foldable adjustable longer stem like this...but it's ugly ! Replace your handlebar ....

 
I changed handlebars on my Ruffian to relieve back pain. I found a narrower and taller bar so I got the lift I wanted and all the brake hoses and wiring were just fine.
 
To do exactly what you are asking, the stem riser is your only option... that is unless you want to replace the fork with one with a longer tube.
 
Hello,

I have a Vintage Electric Cafe. I’d like to raise the handlebars by maybe 1.5-2 inches to get in a bit more of an upright position and decrease the reach. I already have the seat forward as far as it will go and the seat is positioned correctly in terms of height (I have long-ish legs and short-ish arms for my overall height of 5’9”).

I am a complete newbie to bike maintenance/upgrades, but I figured out how to raise the handlebars by unscrewing the locking nut on top of the stem. The issue is that that leaves a gap between the bottom of the stem and the top of the tube. That gap strikes me as problematic because it’s unsightly; it will admit water; and it seems potentially dangerous, in that the handlebars might slam down to close that gap.

Both my local bike shop and Vintage said I should get a new stem that’s longer (like this one:


But aren’t there also rings/washers/spacers that could be used on the existing stem to raise it? If so, wouldn’t that be a simpler solution? And how do I find which ones would fit?

Or am I missing something and I really do need to replace the entire stem in order to raise the handlebars?

Thanks for any insights!

If I am understanding right, you raised your stem and it is no longer against the spacers????? If that is correct, do not ride the bike!!!!!!!!! Take it to someone that can correctly adjust the headset.

You won’t have enough steerer tube to safely clamp onto if you simply add more spacers beneath the stem. For the sake of your own safety, please take your bike to a mechanic.

Moving a saddle forward to lessen reach is no good. Saddle position fore and aft should relate to the pedals, not the handlebars. A shorter stem or narrow bars will reduce reach.

 
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If I am understanding right, you raised your stem and it is no longer against the spacers????? If that is correct, do not ride the bike!!!!!!!!! Take it to someone that can correctly adjust the headset.

You won’t have enough steerer tube to safely clamp onto if you simply add more spacers beneath the stem. For the sake of your own safety, please take your bike to a mechanic.

Moving a saddle forward to lessen reach is no good. Saddle position fore and aft should relate to the pedals, not the handlebars. A shorter stem or narrow bars will reduce reach.

I didn't deduce that from his post... But good precaution considering his stated experience 👍
 
If I am understanding right, you raised your stem and it is no longer against the spacers????? If that is correct, do not ride the bike!!!!!!!!! Take it to someone that can correctly adjust the headset.

You won’t have enough steerer tube to safely clamp onto if you simply add more spacers beneath the stem. For the sake of your own safety, please take your bike to a mechanic.

Moving a saddle forward to lessen reach is no good. Saddle position fore and aft should relate to the pedals, not the handlebars. A shorter stem or narrow bars will reduce reach.

Thanks. I should have been clearer in my original post: I did raise the handlebars just to see how it was done. When I saw the space that that left, I then returned the handlebars to their original position because I quickly concluded that it would be unsafe to use it that way.

I also should have been clearer regarding the seat: I have it as far forward as it *should* go in relation to proper pedal position. So, I meant that I’ve already moved the seat to where it needs to be and wouldn’t move it further to decrease reach.

Thanks again!
 
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Hi all,

Reviving this thread now that I have some more info:

As noted above, I need to raise the handlebar height on my Vintage just a bit in order to decrease the reach/how far forward I need to lean while riding, because the reach and positioning is currently such that it puts significant strain on my lower back. I basically have two options:

1. Get the brake lines and electric cabling extended by a few inches so that the existing flat/straight handlebars can be raised by the corresponding amount. (They have a very small backsweep, but basically are straight).

2. Get the new handlebar that Vintage now has available, which has much more of a backsweep (picture attached).

I lean toward #1, although it’s more complicated than just changing the handlebars. I already have another bike that has swept back Dutch style handlebars that allow me to ride fully upright, so I’m not looking for that from the Vintage bike. But then again, the backsweep and rise of the new Vintage handlebars pictured in the attachment isn’t as dramatic as the Dutch handlebars on my other bike (a LeMond Dutch).

So, I’m struggling with the decision on which way to go. I like the greater steering control and stability that I at least feel on the straighter handlebars, as well as the great ease of riding while standing when necessary going up a hill. But if the more swept back positioning of the new handlebars would be better for my ultimate goals - which are to decrease lower back strain from extended reach - than just raising the existing handlebars, then I’d certainly consider going that route.

Appreciate any insights!
 

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Take a look at those 100+ "true" vintage road motorcycle will help you make your choice.
 
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One of my vintage electric bike, before and after. I did it for the same reasons, to save my back.
 

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Thanks, but I already know what the seating position with swept-back handlebars would look like. My specific question is: between the two options I outlined, which would likely be best?
 
So, I’m struggling with the decision on which way to go. I like the greater steering control and stability that I at least feel on the straighter handlebars, as well as the great ease of riding while standing when necessary going up a hill. But if the more swept back positioning of the new handlebars would be better for my ultimate goals - which are to decrease lower back strain from extended reach - than just raising the existing handlebars, then I’d certainly consider going that route.

Appreciate any insights!
Bike fit is tough to do without being there in person. What would be best is a picture of you in riding position on the bike, taken from the side. That way we could look at your trunk and shoulder angles. If your back is hurting, you probably have too small a trunk angle and too large a shoulder angle. But, not necessarily.

This is a good article on bike fit.

That said, there's a lot of personal preference involved in handlebar grip location and angle. The backsweep thing, for me anyways, is mostly about wrist angle. See this page. Angling the grips even 10º helps a lot with that - you don't necessarily need a full backsweep.

One (obvious) thing I will point out is that if you move the handlebars higher without moving them closer, you will need to extend your cables no matter how the grip location got changed (stem riser, handlebars with more rise, angled/taller stem).
 
The vintage bikes on the market try to ressemble to early motorcycles with the parts available, often making period mistakes. They often mix the attributes of early motorcycles of different times on the same bike. They use available materials, regardless to relevance, to shape something that people will recognize as a tank or a motor. Sometimes it's a success, often it's not. They do a lot of compromises to make their product more acceptable to the eyes and budget of the buyers. Because an E-bike is not a motorcycle they also have to do some compromises on the riding position. It's up to the buyer to decide how deep he is ready to go in the vintage experience.

You have a beautiful vintage road bike that will be even more beautiful if you change your mountain bike handlebar by something more relevant of the era. As a bonus you will be more confortable, a win-win situation. Because E-bikes riders benefit from the help of a motor, the riding position could favour confort to the detriment of efficiency. On your thread, 2 owners of vintage bikes, rich c and me changed their handlebar to get more back sweep to relieve their back pain, and IMHO you should do the same.
 
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The vintage bikes on the market try to ressemble to early motorcycles with the parts available, often making period mistakes. They often mix the attributes of early motorcycles of different times on the same bike. They use available materials, regardless to relevance, to shape something that people will recognize as a tank or a motor. Sometimes it's a success, often it's not. They do a lot of compromises to make their product more acceptable to the eyes and budget of the buyers. Because an E-bike is not a motorcycle they also have to do some compromises on the riding position. It's up to the buyer to decide how deep he is ready to go in the vintage experience.

You have a beautiful vintage road bike that will be even more beautiful if you change your mountain bike handlebar by something more relevant of the era. As a bonus you will be more confortable, a win-win situation. Because E-bikes riders benefit from the help of a motor, the riding position could favour confort to the detriment of efficiency. On your thread, 2 owners of vintage bikes, rich c and me changed their handlebar to get more back sweep to relieve their back pain, and IMHO you should do the same.
Thanks! Would you still change to the more backswept bars rather than raising the existing quasi-flat bars if you already had another bike with backswept bars? (I have a LeMond Dutch).

I really do have any open mind about this, although I’m personally not primarily with aesthetic correctness; my goal is to lessen the extended stretch and relieve the associated lower back pain. Trying to get a sense of whether both options would do so equally well, or whether one would truly work better; and what the compromises might be. (For example, I do already know that it’s much harder to ride standing up when grinding up a hill with the swept back handlebars; there might be other compromises that I’m not aware of that might make one option better than the other for my purposes.)
 
I see no problem to own more then one confortable bike.
I am sure replacing your handlebar by something like a moustache will be much more confortable on your lower back. I never believed, from the start, that raising your straight handlebar was a good idea. The kind of person who buy a bicycle like yours is primarily interested by aesthetic. Standing up on a E-bike ? There is a button for that !
 
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