View Full Version : USS Handlebars from EMT

11-01-2009, 02:00 PM
I couldn't find handle bars in the shape I needed for under-seat steering, so I made some from 3/4" EMT conduit. I liked the looks of the "steer-horn" or grip-forward design on some of the trikes out there, so I came up with a way to bend the shapes. The basic approach was to make two mirror-image halves and join them together. It takes a tube cutter, a Ύ” conduit bender, a large square and a marking pen. A diagram at the end shows the two sizes I made for my Quadster.


The measurement marks are for aligning the start of a bend, not the middle. You work from left to right, keeping the tube bender on the right side of the mark. For some basics on conduit bending in general, these sites were helpful: http://www.elliottelectric.com/References/EMT_coduit_bending_guide.aspx , and http://www.mikeholt.com/documents/freestuff/BendingRoundRaceways.pdf.

Cut two pieces of tube 30” long. Measure and mark the tubes - the example pictured here has marks at 5”, 10”, 15” and 22”. The shortest section you can practically bend is about 5”. Then make lines lengthwise on the centerline through the first two marks, using the straight edge of the square. These are for aligning in the bender.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2602/4005342516_1672692cbe_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3516/4004576465_b311b65a16_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2542/4004576577_e33e5bc45e_m.jpg

11-01-2009, 02:10 PM
Here’s the first trick for keeping bends aligned. Line up your Mark #1 with the arrow on the bender. Looking straight down, rotate the tube so your lengthwise line is right in the center. Now transfer these marks to your bender, at the two blue arrows shown. These marks on the bender will be the guides for aligning all bends.


Bend the tube at Mark #1 to 45 degrees, then bend at Mark #2 to 45 degrees. Repeat the two bends on the other piece of tube. Check that the two 45’s actually line up to 90 degrees with a square. Adjust if the angle necessary.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2686/4064456319_e743657330_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2621/4005341182_a6bdd6eeab_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2453/4004576299_c974a62e7a_m.jpg

11-01-2009, 02:35 PM
With the two parts on a table in a U-shape, the third bend will form the grips, and will be “up” on both sides. The trick for this: extend Mark #3 to the right side on both parts, at the blue arrows – that is, on the left half extend the mark to the inside, and on the right half to the outside.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3514/4064490143_be8898e7dc_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2526/4004576031_413e527021_m.jpg

Rotate each part a quarter turn to the marks on the sides. I used the square to line up the quarter turn as close as possible and marked the correct position. Then make a lengthwise line through this point as before, to line up in the bender. Position this Mark #3 in the bender and make the smaller bend to 22.5 degrees. Repeat for both pieces, and you'll have two mirror-image shapes.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3502/4004576803_d031c0d750_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2674/4004575675_0168d5ebef_m.jpg http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3484/4004577351_605e9bef45_m.jpg

11-01-2009, 02:41 PM
Lay them on the table in a U again and measure their combined width. Trim the insides to get the final width needed, such as 22”. Then insert a length of Ύ” bar or tube on the inside of the joint, and weld together. Clean up the weld and install in your goose neck clamp to measure for overall height. Trim grip lengths as needed, for example to a height of 16”.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2639/4065322652_d5314a6311_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2675/4004577471_e6a69e7618_m.jpg http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2552/4004577085_a68ebf7086_m.jpg

Here's the plans I made for reference. There's more photos at the Quadster thread here (http://forum.atomiczombie.com/showthread.php?t=2807&page=6).


11-01-2009, 03:53 PM
You must not be reading the newsletter posts. You are famous and don't even know it lol


Great job on the tutorial. Thanks.

11-08-2009, 05:46 PM
I made a pair using these plans that were posted in the newsletter. Thank you so much for posting it. They look really nice. One side has one smooth 90 degree curve and the other has a slightly straight portion between the bends, but "you can't see it from the court house". My tubing bender has marks that look different than the bender you used which confused me a little.

It was really easy using your instructions.

02-14-2010, 04:10 PM
How did your grips, brake levers, and shifters fit on these handlebars? I measured and found that 3/4" EMT is bigger than my handlebars, which are 7/8" in diameter.

02-14-2010, 05:27 PM
If you can't get components to fit, just cut a slit in the EMT, dill a 1/4" hole at the base of the slit, and use a few hose clamps to clamp it shut. Hose clamps will help prevent flat spots, which can occur if you use a vice or pliers to close the gap. When finished, you could either weld the hole shut, or leave it alone.

02-14-2010, 05:29 PM
You're right about the difference in tube size. 1)The grips I used were tape wraps, so there was no issue. 2)The bar-end shifters expand to tighten inside the tube, and cover a fairly wide range, including the larger-diameter EMT tube ID, with no problem. 3)The brake levers were almost a problem - they were aluminum body and so I carefully pried them open a bit to fit over the larger EMT, then carefully screwed their clamp-ends so as not to strip the threads. The levers I used were Avid FR5, which are meant to work well with Avid BB7 disk brakes. Other brake levers may work too, but you should probably look at how they are constructed and how they attach to the handle tubes. If it's similar to the FR5, they should probably work fine.

02-14-2010, 11:15 PM
The grips I used were tape wraps

Tape wraps can be tucked in to start, which will make the ID a bit smaller for the bar end shifters. Danner, you hit the nail on the head by using tape wraps. Excellent. Thanks for sharing.
FWIW, I had bar end shifters on the Fox with USS steering until I switched to an internal gear hub, which uses a twist shifter. With this type of steering, bar end shifters are way better, another bit of info that 25hz mentions on his site. Bar end shifters are expensive, but there are mods in these forums for turning old school lever shifters into bar end shifters that will work well with EMT. Much cheaper than ready made bar end shifters.
BTW, some brands of disc brake calipers offer models that can be used with caliper levers, and models that can be used with cantilever levers. If you're using the old caliper type brakes, chances are the levers are made of steel, which can be easily spread to fit EMT. If you have these levers, and are going to use disc brakes, get the kind to be used with caliper levers. If I'm not mistaken, Avid offers both kinds of calipers.

02-14-2010, 11:27 PM
Here are links from Jenson. Notice the calipers are offered in both versions:



For those who already have caliper brakes and levers on their machines and want to switch to disc, use the road brake disc calipers. The better buy are the BB7's @ $45.99.

02-15-2010, 10:37 AM
Danner you the man!

02-16-2010, 01:31 PM
I got to thinking... DOM tubing... 7/8" OD .049 wall (same as3/4" conduit). Would it work in 3/4" conduit bender? Is it readily weldable? I want to fabricate and/or extend handlebars.

Cheezy Rider
05-11-2010, 10:40 PM
On your tutorial on making handlebars out of 3/4" EMT, what is the 22" mark for? There was a bend at 5", 10", and 15", but nothing ever mentioned about the 22" mark. Is that where you cut them off?

05-12-2010, 06:36 PM
I made two sizes of bars - one with bends 5" apart (22" total), and one with bends 6" apart (25" total). On both, the last section for the handgrips was 7". :cheesy:

Odd Man Out
05-12-2010, 08:03 PM
How have you been? Have not heard much from you lately -- what cha bean up to???

05-12-2010, 08:33 PM
Hey OMO, good to hear from you! I finished the quadster in December and after an inaugural ride on New Year's Eve, parked it for the Michigan winter! Haven't been building lately, but thinking about it. And You?

12-21-2010, 09:00 AM
Hi Danner and everyone,
I just built a handle bar using these plans. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I have only one problem. I can't seem to tighten the goose neck enough to secure the bar from rolling. I'm tightening with an allen wrench, so it's possible to get more leverage on it with additional tools, I'm just wondering if there's a trick to this problem. The weld area in the goose neck area is ground and sanded smooth.

Any thoughts?

ken will
12-21-2010, 11:37 AM
You might try welding some small bumps on the handle bars for the goose-neck to grip onto.

06-02-2012, 09:20 AM
Danner, great tutorial, and was just the info I was looking for. I was wondering if EMT (have a 3/4" bender that was left here when we had our sunroom added) could be used for handlebars and you good sir just answered that question for me.
Once again I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge that can be found on this site.

06-02-2012, 09:21 AM
glidergider, you could also take a dremel and score some grooves on the pipe that would work kinda like knurling.

06-02-2012, 09:32 AM
Danner, would a Gampak 3/4" butt connector work as well for the connection at the headstem? could use it to connect the 2 halves and then weld it in place possibly?