Passchier Gump bamboo handlebar review: oh so comfortable
In recent times, the cycling industry has paid increasing attention to unwanted vibrations and how to reduce them. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a number of interesting products attempting to solve the problem, such as Spank’s Vibrocore bars, Silca’s low-rebound bar tape, and the reinvention of suspension stems.
And now you can add bamboo handlebars to the list.
Talk to one of the few selected bike builders who are experienced in using natural materials such as wood or bamboo and they will tell you that they offer the ideal properties for vibration damping and general comfort of cycling. And New Zealand-based Passchier (pronounced “Pas shi er”) is a company that aims to make these properties applicable to more bikes.
Passchier produces flat style handlebars made with engineered bamboo laminate. The bars are designed to reduce potentially dangerous vibrations which in the short term produce fatigue and discomfort for the rider, and potentially much worse effects in the long term. I had the Passchier Gump bars installed on my e-bike over the past month and I can confirm that there is much more to these bars than just a unique aesthetic.
Passchier’s beginnings in cycling
Highlights of history
- What: Bamboo handlebars for a smooth ride.
- Main characteristics: Very flexible construction. Flat bar shapes only. Gump models feature a 22 degree elbow in widths of 650 or 750mm. Available colors.
- Weight: 252 g (650 mm width).
- Price: AU $ 295 / US $ 250
- Tops : Surprisingly comfortable, they actively reduce vibration and impact, a unique look.
- Low : Limited shape options, compromise on steering precision, no center marking, price.
Having started in the 1980s making kayak paddles from bamboo laminate, Dirk Passchier turned to handlebars a few years ago. He quickly realized that the material could produce a bar with notable comfort benefits while still being strong enough for the purpose.
Each handlebar is made from 11 layers of engineered bamboo laminate (similar to a sheet of plywood) that are glued and pressed together into the desired shape. These shaped blocks are then cut into pieces that each form a handlebar, then shaped with a CNC machine. Hand sanding gives the bar its final shape. The bars are of solid construction, not hollow.
I first met the Christchurch-based handlebar maker at this year’s Handmade Bicycle Show Australia, and The Passchier product line changed over the next few months.
The company had initially launched with three separate models. There was the large sweep “Couch” which almost looked like a handlebar for a beach cruiser. There was the “Scoot” which had the wide and relatively straight dimensions of a modern flat bar belonging to a cross-country mountain bike. And then there’s the “Gump”, a 22 ° flared rear flat bar designed for comfortable commuting, flat bar gravel riding and bikepacking.
The Couch and Scoot have both been brought back to the drawing board, with the former being considered a bit too flexible (comfortable) for stable control of the bike while the latter will be reissued in a shorter width of 620mm and for those who wish. a straighter shape.
That of course leaves the Gump, a bar that comes in widths of 650 (tested) or 750mm and a number of colored lacquer options in addition to the raw finish tested. These widths can be customized with a hacksaw, although you will need to be careful to make sure you have left enough room to slide the controls over the tapered shape of the bar.
What the Passchier lineup is obviously missing is drop handlebars, and sadly, it’s just not something we’ll likely see anytime soon. According to Mike Baddeley of Passchier, bamboo laminate just isn’t conducive to the tight turns required by falling handlebars. Slim.
Ride the Gump
Since the Gump was designed with bikepacking, flat bar gravel riding and city use in mind, this bar will not appeal to the performance oriented user. Rather, the noticeably flexible bar with a 22º curvature is intended to provide a more comfortable hand position for a more relaxed approach to cycling.
Bars feature a consistent 31.8mm clamping area for use with the vast majority of stems. This clamping area is reinforced and protected by a thick layer of carbon fiber. The bar tapers to a standard 22.2mm diameter for use with ATV style shifters, brake levers and grips. The bars are capped at the ends.
Although they are made of composite material, the bars are not that light. The 750mm wide version weighs 311g, while the narrower 650mm version weighs 252g.
The setup looks a lot like any other flat handlebars, but there are a few quirks. First, there are no helpful markings on the center of the bar to line it up in the stem clamp. The logo usually served this function, but it didn’t line up perfectly with my swatch, so I used a ruler instead. Second, Passchier provides little grip stickers to place under your brake levers to protect the smooth clear coat – these do the job but are a fiddle on setup. And finally, the bamboo construction has a slight settling compression, so it is important to re-tighten the rod faceplate bolts one week after the first installation.
From the first pedal strokes, my mind swung between uncertainty and fear. Press down on the bars and you can feel the angle of your hands change with the enormous amount of flex in the bars. It feels like there’s an inch or two of flex there. Likewise, step on your brakes and you will feel your moving mass flexing the bars forward. Run out of the saddle and you will feel the bars move up and down as you weigh yourself down and release on either side. According to Passchier, this flex is mostly linear up to a point, with the brand citing 20mm of flex at 40Nm load and 40mm of flex at 80Nm load.
I briefly used a Passchier bar (the discontinued Scoot) on my 29 inch hardtail mountain bike and could feel the bar flex before the friction of my suspension fork released. And in this case, the handlebars were significantly more responsive to finer trail irregularities than the rather stiff spring fork. Even with soft grips, a large volume 29 ” tire, and a suspension fork already present, the bamboo bar made a noticeable difference in isolating my hands from the terrain.
The flex isn’t so extreme that you feel your hands feel completely disconnected from the wheel, but it’s enough that you feel like you have suspension under your hands. The trade-off is that on a performance-oriented bike, such as my hardtail, I found the flex to forgo a laser-like level of handling precision or ‘snap’ when exiting the bike. saddle. Yes, it was comfortable, but this performance-driven scenario made me want to go back to the relatively stiff carbon handlebars.
Such concerns about steering following are of little concern on my city-focused e-bike or more adventurous bike and here the Gump offers an unexpected addition to comfort and a unique look. Coming from the old MTB-style low bar on my e-bike, it took a few laps to get used to the straighter position offered by the 22º back sweep, but I quickly got a taste for it. Likewise, I had to get used to the feeling of flexing when pushing the bike hard in the bends or getting off the saddle, but the payoff is a day and night difference in the shock to your hands and legs. arm.
To put that flex into perspective, if Passchier hypothetically came up with a drop bar handlebars, I’d love to run it on an adventure-style gravel bike that’ll see horrible, rolling, rugged terrain. However, I would prefer to have something more direct for pure road and performance gravel purposes.
Unfortunately, personally I don’t like the look of these bars on my specialty Vado electric bike (but then this bike is more functional than shape), but I can certainly think of a few more classic style bikes where it would look like. to pure classify. And the bar quickly made me google a used Cannondale Woody (not really wood).
Granted, the material itself made me nervous from a safety standpoint, and that concern only grew when I first felt the amount of flex to the touch. However, Passchier seems to take the security side of things seriously. The bars pass the ISO test standard for adult city and trekking bikes, and Passchier is confident the bars meet the needs of flat gravel and bikepacking.
More good news, according to Baddeley, the failure mode of these bars is not catastrophic. On the contrary, the way the bars are layered with multiple laminates means that you will see cracks and then cracks long before failure. A warning is always a good thing. I subsequently stopped worrying about the strength of these bars.
It should be noted that these bars are not designed for use on mountain bikes where falls and jumps are common. Likewise, although Passchier does not officially have a weight limit, Baddeley has suggested that it is not the ideal product if you weigh over 120 kg (265 lbs). It should also be noted that such guidelines are fairly normal among many cycling products that we use and trust.
Who is it for ?
Initially, I wanted to test this product to see how much room for improvement there is in the comfort of the handlebars. And it turns out that there are substantial gains on offer here.
With a Passchier bamboo handlebar, the ride becomes noticeably smoother, more comfortable and silky smooth. And that’s not a subtle difference that only the thinner will feel – the comfort-inducing flex should be obvious to everyone.
Unfortunately, running on the most comfortable handlebars won’t be for everyone. First of all, you need to have a bike that is suitable for this style and shape of handlebars. Then, you have to be content to gain comfort to the detriment of a little maneuverability or efficiency when reefing on the bars uphill. And then you and your bike have to continue with the unique aesthetic.
And if you get past all of those barriers, well, you still have to justify the price of AU $ 295 / US $ 250 plus shipping from its place of manufacture in New Zealand. All of this leaves a rather niche market. That said, this bar does what it claims to be and is sure to attract a small following.
More information can be found at passchier.co.nz.