Specifically addressing the second of your suggestions
split bars with shifter next to the stem
This is a bad idea and would strongly recommend against it.
The GMC Denali uses this method in order to fit grip shifters to a dropbar.
The dropbar has been cut through in the middle, allowing the maker to fit the twist or grip shifters. These will be ...
Older bikes have what is known as a quill stem. The stem telescopes inside the fork steerer tube and is held in place with a wedge. The long bolt you removed threads into the wedge. When the bolt is tightened the wedge is pulled up.
What you should have done is loosened the bolt, aligned the bars and re-tightened the bolt. With the bolt removed the wedge is ...
That’s a tension bolt for a quill stem I think. Is there a wedge shaped piece floating around inside the fork now? You can fish it out with that bolt or maybe flip the bike upside down.
The last few mm of the bolt look stripped which may or may not be an issue. The small bend in the bolt shouldn’t be an issue.
Try cleaning everything then reinstalling ...
This approach works well for rigid forks and might work well for suspension forks too.
You need a straightedge or aluminium profile.
Put the straightedge through the wheel and push it against the fork:
Ensure you do not stress the spokes, though it might help clamping the straightedge.
Look down from your handlebar and align the straightedge with the ...
This is an attempt to update the existing answers and to answer more generally. As stated in the FAQ, specific product recommendations are off topic for Stack Exchange, in part because the links to them can go stale. We can, however, discuss specific product categories that may be helpful. Any products I mention in this post are ones I know about, and ...
Grab on maxi-grips.
I have been using them for 40 years.
They work, they last (some of mine are 20 years old and
still useable (I don't leave bike in sun for long term storage).
Not too expensive ... up to $20 now (originally I paid about $5).
I started using them after getting nerve damage on a long tour.
I am big (203cm and thus put a lot of weight on ...