I was trying to adjust the position of my handle bar...but might have turned the screw too hard in the wrong direction or perhaps it was like this earlier...not sure....

Is there anything that can be done or its too late ?


Update 3 - Thank you All for the help !! This is now resolved, I was messing with the wrong screws...there was one underneath and that was the one I had to loosen to change the position of the handlebar - here is what had to be done

and thx to the immediate response from Pacific Cycles (Schwinn) letting me know what had to be done !! Update 2 - I removed the other side screw and am attaching some photos, and a video which might give some more ideas.

Update 1 - thanks for all the great suggestions folks ! I will try out the options and report back !!

The Bad screw (you might see that it is almost gone round) the bad side

The Good screw on the other side the good side

enter image description here enter image description here

  • If you want to remove the screw I've always had good luck using a hex screwdriver bit of the right size then soldering it in with a soldering iron. This gives sufficient grip to get the screw out. You can then use the soldering iron to de-solder the bit, although I tend to replace the screw rather than try and re-use it. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 9:54
  • @GordonCopestake thx a lot for the suggestion, I was going to ask you further question on this as I thought I might have to go that route...until I found out that was messing with the wrong screw... -:) youtube.com/watch?v=rvKs2ytBmp0
    – Naresh MG
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 21:58
  • Ah! Always helps to loosen the right screw! If you've been trying to undo the wrong screw I would advise you have a go at tightening it again for safetys sake... Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 6:20
  • Have done so Mate !! -:)
    – Naresh MG
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 13:53

4 Answers 4


Edit in response to new photo:

I think this is your problem. You've loosened the wrong bolt!

adjustable stem annotated

You've been looking at the pivot bolt(s), which just hold the stem together. To adjust the angle you need to loosen a bolt that you may not even have noticed, the one under the stem.

I strongly suspect that your stem works like the one below:

enter image description here

The bolt on the lower left holds the silver plate in place, and that plate has big teeth on it that lock into matching indentations in the stem. If you loosen the bolt the plate moves out letting you adjust the stem.

The rest of it is not really relevant any more, but I'll leave it in anyway.

Many of those stems have the "bolt" on one side of the stem fixed. Like the seatpost bolt in dlu's answer, you push it in and it locks in place. The seatpost one has a little tab, the step ones usually have a hex part under the head of the bolt.

The photo below shows a similar stem, only this one has a replaceable bolt where yours seems to have the bolt and cap and one piece ... the stripped piece.

adjustable stem taken apart

That means that if the bolt is tight you can't rotate the bolt head by putting an allen key in and turning it. Only one side will turn, the other side will strip if you try. That may well be what has happened here.

I think the idea is that that side lets you hold the stem at the right angle while doing up the bolt on the other side (making it a two hand job rather than a 3 hand one). So if you've been trying to turn the wrong one you could end up stripping it.

The good news is that it doesn't really matter - that side is fixed anyway.

I think that if you push the "bolt from the back side" part it will slide out. You will probably need to lift the handlebar side of the stem a little to release the downward pressure on the pivot. Basically push and wiggle.

annotated picture of adjustable stem partly disassembled

I would do that by screwing the bolt you have in your hand back in a little, leaving a couple of millimetres gap so that when you push on the bolt head there's room for the bolt to slide into the stem a bit.

With a bit of imagination, the top view looks like this. The blue is the stem, red is the fixed "bolt" with the stripped head, and grey is the short bolt you've been able to remove. If you push leftwards in the diagram the red bolt should slide out.

sketch of adjustable stem exploded view

Alternatively, find a punch or a smaller bolt that will go into that threaded hold without damaging the threads, and use a hammer to tap the remaining "bolt" out.

There's two approaches: you want to keep the adjustable stem and ideally change the position, so you don't want to damage anything; you want to adjust it and if you can't you need a new stem, so if you damage it trying to adjust it that's no great loss. Obviously in the first case you can hammer that bolt to get it out, because either you move it or you're going to throw the stem out. But if you want to keep the stem more care is needed.

To me, those adjustable stems are not great and mostly should be used to discover which fixed stem you need. So I'd be inclided to force the adjustable stem a bit more.

  • thanks, yes..was messing with the wrong bolt -:( Schwinn also mentioned that to me after seeing my pics and video...I haev updated my question also earlier today......youtube.com/watch?v=rvKs2ytBmp0&feature=youtu.be
    – Naresh MG
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 1:36
  • may I ask what that other screw (the one I was messing up with for no reason) , is meant for ? Thank You !
    – Naresh MG
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 16:07
  • It's the axle that the adjustable part pivots around.
    – Móż
    Commented Sep 1, 2015 at 21:35

If you find that it can't be fixed, then try to go with a solid stem that's already at the correct angle. I had an adjustable one before and after adjusting it, I could never get it to be tightened properly and it would always wobble.

A bike co-op or bike dump is a good place to look for parts like this as solid stems don't usually wear out and many of them are salvaged from old bikes that may no longer be usable.

Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure the nut was rounded off similar to yours after many tries to remove the wobble. The adjustable ones are usually low quality because they are heavier than solid stems, and people who buy more expensive bikes don't mind spending a few extra dollars to get a good fit.


I would guess these take a metric Allen wrench, a.k.a. L-wrench, so if you used an English-sized one you can bork the hex, making it difficult to turn. The sticker in your second photo references M5, M6, etc., which are common abbreviations for metric hex-headed screws. Even if you carelessly use the correct metric wrench, you can still make a mess.

I would also guess it may not be easy to find a replacement for this hex-head screw very easily, because of the application. Assuming that is true, I'd suggest that you consider looking for a bicycle store or bicycle co-op in your area that might be able to help. At a store you'll have to pay, and at the co-op, you should pay, but at the very least they should be able to help without making the problem worse. In other words, you might have just one chance to salvage the existing left-hand screw, and someone with more experience working on bicycles would certainly have a higher probability of success than you would, using advice you got from an Internet site.

If you insist on working on it yourself, you can try cutting a slot in the left-hand screw with a Dremel or equivalent, which would permit a large flat-bladed screwdriver to get a purchase, but it probably won't end up looking very nice. Normally I wouldn't deploy that method on a screw I was planning to use again, but you may not care. Alternatively, on Youtube you can find methods for removal which are basically guaranteed to destroy the screw, meaning you would need a new one, but these methods are basically tried and true.

Very best of luck...


It is likely that what you've got is a hex (Allen) head nut & bolt, similar to this seat post binder bolt. Allen (hex) head nut/bolt set for seatpost. If you are lucky you may be able to work it free by loosening the undamaged side. To do that you will need to find way to keep the other side from moving. This could be easy or a real pain.

First off, try to get some lubricant to the threads. Work from the undamaged side, as friction on the damaged side is your friend. You may have the best luck trickling some down between the fixed and moving halves of the stem (rather than around the fasteners).

Then try some of these techniques:

  • Loosen the undamaged fastener (it could work, no sense in not trying the easy one first).
  • Tap gently.
  • Hold the damaged side with anything you can get to hold in it a bit – the right sized wrench is an obvious thing to try, also try the next largest Imperial sized wrench, or a Torx, or a Robertson (square) driver – anything you've get lying around that might fit is worth trying.
  • Even if the tool you're using on the damaged side won't hold the fastener against turning pressure may help since it will increase the friction against the stem.
  • Experiment with gradual and sudden application of torque on the good side.
  • If you have access to a grinder, taper down a slightly oversized hex driver just a bit (you want the nose to fit in and then start to bite) keeping the edges as sharp as you can, support the stem and drive it in with a hammer.
  • If you have access to a reversible drill or a milling machine a left hand mill will apply torque in the correct direction as it tries to cut into the damaged fastener. In a comment @Criggle mentions an Ez-Out, I've never used one in such a shallow hole, but they would also be worth trying.
  • That last one is sometime achievable with an easy-out / "EZOut" and variations. Thats a left-hand threadded bit that looks like a dwarf tap.
    – Criggie
    Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 7:01

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