Bamboo You

Bamboo You

As I mentioned yesterday, I recently received a pair of bamboo handlebars (why do we think of a single bar as a “pair” anyway?) from Passchier:

I knew I’d use these on my artisanal singlespeed mountain bike from Engin:

So I opted for the 650 width, since it was close to what I’d already been using.

Furthermore, since I’ve been increasing my use of flat pedals, I figured I’d add a little pumpkin spice comfort in the form of some Crankbrothers Stamp 1 pedals:

And some ESI Extra Chunky grips:

I also rotated in my old Brooks Cambium by way of tying the proverbial room together, and when I put everything on yesterday here was the result:

Aesthetically speaking, I find large platform pedals impart sort of a duck-footed goofiness to most bikes, and the orange isn’t helping. Still, I think the Engin is able to pull it off.

Now, I should note that Passchier’s bars, while duly strength-tested, are not rated for full-on, big-hit, big-air mountain biking. Fortunately, I don’t really engage in full-on, big-hit, big-air mountain biking–I’m more of a scurrying-around-in-the-woods type, and I’m certainly not getting any more rowdy as I age. Nevertheless, just in case, I asked Passchier if they’d be safe for an old guy riding a one-speed bicycle on singletrack, and they said yes. I suspect on certain rides I might be flirting with the limit of what they recommend for these bars every now and again, but for the most part I don’t think I’m tempting fate too wantonly. Also, I did ride down two (2) sets of stone stairs, and here I am typing this, so there you go.

So besides looks, what’s even the point of bamboo bars at all, let alone ones that cost $250 and are not designed for your Danny MacAskill hijinx? Well, according to Passchier, it’s this:

And flex they do–you can really see it! (Yes, you can see it on plenty of aluminum bars, too, but this is something else.) Granted, the rubbery saddle and silicone-y grips also played a role, but there’s no question they imparted an almost unctuously smooth quality to the ride, which I quite enjoyed:

The clamp area is wrapped in crabon:

I have no idea if there’s a torque specification, so I went by feel, and since I didn’t hear any crackling sounds I figured I did okay:

They have quite a bit more sweep then the bars I was using, which is nice:

Though I’ve also begun to realize that when it comes to sweep I’m kind of an “all or nothing” guy, in that if I’m not getting that full-on super-comfy wheelbarrow angle it’s almost not worth it:

Here’s how the Passchiers compare to what I was riding, by the way:

In case you’re wondering, those are titanium bars with an aluminum shim that Drew Guldalian made along with the frame. They were also considered wide at the time, though now they’re practically narrower than some drop bars. Fortunately if I ever need a little extra width there’s always plenty of bamboo lying around:

In fact there’s so much of it you’d be forgiven for thinking it sprouts right out of the ground!

And how is it that nobody is selling a bamboo kickstand yet?

Hopefully when Passchier sees this and starts making one they’ll cut me in.

Anyway, as I’ve written before, over the last 20 years bike designers have lost sight of the fact that cockpit flex can be a very good thing, and bars like these certainly offer a way to get some into your modern threadless setup, if that’s what you’re after:

Who needs suspension when you’ve got bamboo bars and a rubber saddle?

As for the pedals, I got the Stamp 1s because I love the Stamp 2s I put on the Jones but I also love saving money, and while they feel just as good beneath my feet as their metal siblings they’re not quite as grippy:

I’m not sure if it’s the body, or the pins (there are fewer of them), or both. Regardless, I didn’t do the sort of riding that would put their traction to the test, so time will tell if it’s sufficient. But as the ground began to thaw beneath the afternoon sun…

…one thing that was definitely insufficient was my landing stip of a filth prophylactic:

When it’s messy out, don’t dress your bike in thong underwear.

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