HomeReviews & TechCommutingReview: New Zealand made Passchier Gump bamboo handlebars will smooth your ride

Review: New Zealand made Passchier Gump bamboo handlebars will smooth your ride

Handlebar buzz can be one of the biggest niggles to solve on a bike. You could shop around buying one aluminium handlebar after the next to see if one feels softer or nicer. You could fix the buzz by swapping to or swapping-out suspension forks, but this will also ‘swap’ the handling. Timber handlebars are out there on the market, both the straight and curved versions and wooden bikes are pitched for their smooth ride feel. On the other end of the technology scale is carbon fiber which can soften microvibrations and I have been riding these for years despite the faint underlying doomsday fears of catastrophic failure.

What about bamboo? Bamboo bikes are in trend and offer sustainability, the warmth of the natural material and material properties that can provide smoother handling. If this was from Asia it would be because of the abundance of bamboo in certain regions and cheap labour. If it was from Africa then it would have been part of a sustainable and community building project. If it was from America it would be from hipsters who are building the next market trend. But Passchier are from our nearest neighbours in New Zealand which I wouldn’t have expected but also think is fantastic.

bamboo handlebars new zealand

When I unpacked the bamboo-bar I was struck by how nice it looked. Smartly packaged in a cardboard box stuffed with shredded bamboo, their trip across the Tasman didn’t phase the handlebars and the sustainability factor is carried right through. I get the impression that the folks at Passchier take pride in their creations.

gump bamboo handlebars sleeve

A carbon fiber centre sleeve is a smart solution that takes up slack to give you a bang-on 31.8mm centre clamp. As you have probably guessed, this also helps to avoid crushing the bamboo in the stem clamp. The Gump handle model provided for review has a 22° sweep which puts them into the relaxed category and these bars are pitched towards tourers, ebikes and town commuters. A model called Scoot with 10° sweep and 760mm length is also manufactured by Passchier although don’t currently appear on the website (but can be found through some NZ retailers).

city bike handlebars

At 650mm wide, these bamboo handlebars are very much in line with the common bar widths for hybrid bikes and city flatbar bikes. As they are laminated bamboo you could cut them down which would be even than cutting down alloy bars. Passchier say this is OK as it will not affect the integrity, but they recommend sealing the ends if you do cut them. I prefer a shorter 520-550mm width given the nature of my commute, so it is nice to have this option. There is a wide 760mm version for those who prefer wide bars for the trail and off-road adventures.

bamboo handlebars

Passchier got in touch to remind me that these bars were certified for city commuting, touring and easy trail conditions (according to ISO 4210-2:2015). These are not intended for cross country or downhill mountain biking. I tested with my city commuter, a Scott Metrix. Aluminium is almost everywhere on this bike, even the forks, so the ride can get a little jarring across coarse roads and rough gravel paths. Rather than bigger tyres and lower tyre pressures or opting for a suspension fork to be mounted to a frame which was not built for one, why go straight to the point of contact.

As I suggested earlier, road buzz and hand/arm comfort can be a tricky issue to solve. Probably second only to saddle selection for many. Just consider how many secondhand bikes are sold without the original saddle, it is almost standard proceedure to swap out the stock saddles for something more comfortable.

bamboo bike handlebars

Fitting the Passchier Gump handlebar is as easy as you would expect of any handlebar. The sizes are precise enough to not worry about scarring the finish as you sliding the brake levers, shifters and grips onto them. Everything clamps nicely without having the feeling that you need to overdo them.

You can notice the bars flexing when you push down on them from a standing position, but not so much that you will be concerned that they will shear off. Truth be told, these bars won’t automatically make your bike a plush suspension machine. But the capability of the Gump bars to flex and absorb road buzz and small lumps and bumps may have you wondering why you didn’t make this modification earlier. In this respect they can transform an ‘uncomfortable, so I stopped riding it’ bike into a ‘I enjoy riding and will get out more’ bike.

passchier gump bamboo handlebar review

The construction process is fascinating and worth looking up on the Passchier website where you can see the progression from bamboo panels, to lamination, machining and finishing. Although most people will easily appreciate the different between cheaply produced aluminium handlebars to these that have a hands-on construction process, the (roughly) $350 price tag can be a sticking point.

I don’t expect these bars to be an obvious upgrade for the pub bike (don’t drink and ride dear readers). But for special bikes, these bars can be at home as they are an upgrade the deliver nice riding characteristics plus they are eye catching.

Find out more and purchase from: passchier.co.nz

James Hutchison
James Hutchison
is a road rider, a social rider (is there such a genre as serious social?) and cycle commuter.
- Advertisment -

Most Popular