The Finishing Touch

When I recently described various upgrades that I had made to Why?Bike there seemed to be general agreement that my tatty, creaky, adjustable handlebar stem had to go next. I did think long and hard about going all modern and getting an Ahead converter but I like the looks of quill stems and had secretly got my heart set on a Nitto Technomic – very nice and shiny and much taller than average. This is a small frame and I did need a bit of height. The only snag was the price. Scanning the ‘Wanted’ adds on the CTC forum I came across someone wanting the 90mm Deluxe version. He had been offered a virtually new 80mm version but had turned it down. 80mm was exactly what I was looking for so a deal was swiftly struck. That just left the minor matter of fitting it!

New stem 002

I was pretty apprehensive about tackling this – there seemed to be an awful lot of disassembly and reassembly involved and lots of scope for things to go wrong. My confidence wasn’t helped by the fact that I’d fitted a new bar bag mount to my Roberts the previous day. It should have been a 5 minute job but it had taken me ages to persuade the securing cable to go through the little holes. If an easy job had been a struggle what kind of a mess could I get in with this?

Stage one, remove the handlebar tape. No problem, it came off in good condition, no tears, ready to be reused.

Stage two, remove the STIs. I’d found the instructions on the internet and the main point seemed to be not to unscrew the bolt too much or it would drop out and be very difficult to replace. I approached this very cautiously, loosening it only by the bare minimum. The lever moved but only as far as the bend. Cautiously I loosened the clamp further, dreading that I would lose the bolt. No problem! The lever slid off the bars like a good ‘un!

New stem 003

5mm allen key down the groove to the bolt

Stage three, remove the old stem. I expected problems here, worried that it might be seized in. No, it came straight out, covered with plenty of grease.

Stage four, fit the new stem to the bars. It wiggled its way round the bends of the bars to sit nicely in the middle. Tighten the bolt, then fit the stem into the frame and tighten the top bolt. This was going amazingly well!

Stage five, refit the STI lever using a stick and a spirit level to make sure it was perfectly level with the other one.

Stage six, refit bar tape.

Job done! I couldn’t believe how smoothly and easily this whole job had gone. I had been expecting all sorts of problems but everything went like clockwork. It looks jolly good too!

New stem 004

The finished masterpiece!