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The Gear File, Vol 2

Contributing gear editor Mark Watson provides a round-up of the new and interesting products he’s discovered lately.

Laminated bamboo handlebar

I’ve come across a few bamboo bike frames during my cycling adventures, but had not seen a bamboo handlebar until a friend told me about New Zealand bamboo handlebar pioneers Passchier. 

Dirk Passchier built his expertise working with bamboo and lamination making kayak paddles and, along with co-founder Mike Baddeley, has now applied this to beautiful handmade bike handlebars.

I’ve been using a Passchier Gump ($350) (760mm wide, 22-degree sweep) handlebar for a few months now and have been impressed with its ride qualities. Having used both aluminium and titanium bars in the past, bamboo has quite a different feel. Most notable is the flex; they are noticeably springy. Combined with the vibration-damping qualities of bamboo, this flex serves to take the sting out of rough pavement and gravel roads, significantly increasing comfort and saving energy.  

These bars are rated to ISO standards for strength and are pitched as being suitable for touring, bikepacking, commuting and e-bikes. I have been using mine for gravel biking and moderate single track and find that it pairs extremely well with a completely rigid 29er. The 22 degree sweep of the bar puts my hands into a more natural position than a typical mountain bike bar, making it very comfortable for full days out on the bike. 

The Gump also comes in a 650mm width for increased manoeuvrability in traffic or for riders who like a less-wide stance on the bars.

Filtered water straight from the drink bottle

Last summer I began using an integrated filter drinking system for the first time when I picked up a Katadyn BeFree (600ml) to use in a bikepacking race. For the past few years, I have mostly relied on the USB-rechargeable Steripen Ultra for my water treatment and this has served me well (treating 1-litre of water in 90 seconds) but there is a convenience about integrated filter bottles that makes them ideal for fast-and-light activities, or used in tandem with other treatment methods, such as chemical or UV sterilisation. With an integrated filter bottle, you simply fill it and drink from the bottle immediately, or squeeze the contents into a larger container. 

Water-to-Go recently gave me one of their bike-style Active water bottles ($89.99) to try. This 750ml bottle has a filter integrated into the screw-on cap. The filter claims to remove 99.9999% of contaminants using three filtration technologies: mechanical, electrical (positive charge) and activated carbon. These systems work best with clear water, although the Water-to-Go system is rated to remove chemical contaminants and heavy metals, as well as microorganisms such as viruses, harmful bacteria, and parasites such as Giardia.

The Water-to-Go filter is removable, replaceable and recommended for 200 litres of filtration.