How tight should handlebar components be?

Here it's said 6-8Nm. However, I don't own a torque wrench at that range.

Should the brake levers and commands be tight, or should they be able to twist, so that in the event of a crash, they do not break?

  • 2
    Tight enough that they don't move under normal circumstances. I doubt that you'll find anyone who routinely uses a torque wrench on them. Mar 21, 2014 at 15:32
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    I found a torque wrench to be a great investment, whilst it was quite expensive I use it pretty much universally when it comes to adjusting things on the bikes. 6-8Nm sounds about right, and gives you a very precise value. What kind of answers do you expect from your question? quite tight? pretty tight? very tight? They're all meaningless.
    – PeteH
    Mar 21, 2014 at 18:02
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    @PeteH I am expecting answers on the Why-s. It is true or a myth that levers should rotate in a crash?
    – Vorac
    Mar 24, 2014 at 9:08

2 Answers 2


It depends.

On a road bike you'll want them fairly tight to be able to ride on the hoods without the brake levers turning away or moving downward on the bar.

On a mountain bike, at least the brake levers should be able to rotate away in case of a crash. But they still should be relatively tight such that they don't turn away while braking or because of bumps. Depending on where you ride, I'd rather have them a little too tight than lose the ability to brake because the levers are somewhere they're not supposed to be. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn't be able to rotate them without applying some force, similar to opening a pickle jar.

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    I don't you want your brake levers loose enough to rotate, even in a crash. For one, it'd be a pain to move them back, especially if you don't have a tool, and second, they'd be loose enough to move if you had a hard landing off of a drop or jump.
    – Aaron
    Mar 21, 2014 at 14:47
  • @Aaron: Mine rotate away in a crash -- hydraulic disc levers are expensive and unnecessary bleeding is a PITA -- and I think a multitool should be a must-carry for every mountain biker. I never had them rotate as a result of landing. In fact, my index finger barely touches the levers while riding, not exerting any force on them. So why should they move?
    – arne
    Mar 21, 2014 at 15:09
  • @Aaron: On a mountain bike, when your lever hits the ground, if it can't move out of the way it breaks. This is expensive and stops you braking for the rest of the day. If the lever has moved, it's normally possible to get it back in position with some elbow grease. I've never had mine move during riding, and they always seem to move on crashing...
    – Byron Ross
    Mar 26, 2014 at 0:16
  • @ByronRoss and arne: Huh, you guys must crash pretty hard! I've never had mine rotate or break. I'll concede that perhaps rotating is better than breaking, but from experience I've yet to see it happen.
    – Aaron
    Mar 26, 2014 at 13:07
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    @Aaron or if you go very slowly over the front on a technical descent...doesn't need to be fast :)
    – Byron Ross
    Mar 26, 2014 at 20:46

Brake levers should not rotate around the bars anytime ever.

Any motion of the brake lever could compromise effective braking at the moment you need it.

I can't think of a situation where a moving brake lever makes any sense - if you're crashing hard enough to damage them, you're crashing hard enough to damage yourself and thats a higher priority.

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    If you do them up to the 6-8Nm quoted in the question, then hit them hard enough they'll move. You might need a hammer or to turn the bike updside down and drop it. To tighten them so much that they wouldn't move in a modest crash would require huge clamps. They should never move in normal riding. Those on my hybrid are solid enough that I can rest my hands on them while riding, or pop the front wheel up by pulling on the brake/shifter housing, but after my front wheel was knocked out from under me by another bike and I landed on the side I had to loosen the clamp and adjust.
    – Chris H
    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:11

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