New-Zealand-based cycling enthusiast Mike Baddeley noticed some common issues among his fellow riders: "Handlebar palsy." Hours of riding on rocky trails sends a lot of vibration into the arms, resulting in numbness and tingling in the joints and tendons.
Baddeley couldn't help notice that all handlebars are made from metal, which is both strong and stiff. But those qualities are "really only of benefit for the very top tier of cyclists that need every ounce of energy converted into forward motion…. Our approach to riding is that you need to enjoy the journey. Some energy can be converted into the sheer pleasure of riding a bike, so we created handlebars that have natural flex that delivers a more comfortable ride, with less vibration to the hands and shoulders."
Baddeley worked with Dirk Passchier, a craftsman who had been making kayak paddles out of bamboo for 40 years, to ask if he could apply his knowledge of the material to handlebars. Passchier said yes, and soon the duo co-founded Passchier, which manufactures bamboo handlebars to Dirk's specifications.
"With the flex and absorption the handle bars have, the first question that people asked us… are they strong, as the flex can convey thoughts of weakness.
"The answer to this very important question, is most definitely yes… with the disclaimer that these are not designed for aggressive downhill riding or for large riders who tip the scales over 110Kg (242 lbs.). These bars are designed for the cruiser, comfort-focused rider that does easy trails, long tours and jaunts around town, to the store and daily commutes. If you're tearing downhill over roots and drop offs, then get yourself some stiff carbon bars and hang on."