April 6, 2022
We Are One is a carbon wheel and bike manufacturer in British Columbia, Canada. In 6 years, they have transformed from a wheel builder to one of Canada's most exciting MTB brands. We were lucky to try out their new(ish) handlebar system called Da Package that rethinks how carbon bars and stems integrate.
For most of you, We Are One needs little introduction. Since 2016, We Are One has been crafting some of the best handmade composite wheels on the planet at their HQ in Kamloops, British Columbia. Over the past few years, the company has been making huge strides and growing its product lineup. The recently released Arrival — an enduro machine 100% designed, manufactured, and assembled right here in BC— has cemented We Are One's place in Canadian mountain bike fame. But We Are One didn't go from making wheels to releasing the Arrival overnight. It's been a long and impressive journey.
Along the way, We Are One doubled down and began building out some of its own components. One of those components is a stem and handlebar combo, lovingly called 'Da Package'.
Da Package is a combo of 'Da Stem' and 'Da Bar' (really), and was designed as a single unit with 3 parts: a stem, the bar, and an alloy sleeve or shim. Da Problem is that most stems are not designed specifically with carbon bars in mind, which results in irregular and uneven clamping force. This can lead to harsh contact points between the stem and carbon which eventually leads to wear and potentially catastrophic failure. As they say, “carbon is just a fancy word for plastic” and it makes plain sense to me that the contact point between the two be designed as one.
We Are One mentions that the alloy shim distributes the clamping force evenly across the carbon, making it much stronger and safer over time. Again, this makes perfect sense. The downside to this is that Da Package can only be used as a complete system. There is no taking Da Package apart and running that Raceface stem that matches your socks. Da Package locks you into the We Are One garden, which actually is a great place to be…
The stem, bars and shim were designed as a team effort between We Are One and 77 Designs out of Northern Germany. There is no doubt, Da Package is a high, high-end product. All parts of the unit are downhill grade components and 100% hand laid (and made) here in Canada. They are not for the faint of heart.
Da Package comes with few options: two stems lengths (35 and 45mm), and three levels of rise (20, 27.5mm and 35mm).
I can't quite emphasize how light these bars are. Da Bar weighs in at 215g and 12g for the alloy sleeve. Which brings the full unit to a miniscule 320g for the 35mm stem option 338g for the 45mm stem. The hardware on Da Package is of course titanium which obviously makes you faster out there.
Da Bar is just that— a bar, with a 5 degree upsweep and an 8 degree backsweep. The bar ships in one length: long—800mm that can be trimmed down to 740mm if that's your thing.
Apparently, Da Package sometimes arrives in a box with a beautiful purple velvet liner. Ours came in a triangle shipping container with some packing paper. I get it… I suspect that We Are One found a bar hanging around the factory floor and sent it over to us. Too bad, I love gear packaging and would have loved to see Da Packaging. Oh well, I was still stoked to try Da Package out.
My first reaction to the bars was a great improvement from my reaction to the packaging: they are stunning. The raw carbon somehow seems to absorb the light around it like a black hole. It takes a few moments to get over how rad they look to realize there is zero branding on them. These bars are an exercise in subtlety whereas most bars are annoyingly heavily branded.
Because Da Package is created to be a unit, We Are One was able to remove the need for a faceplate completely. The stem reaches over the sleeve and bar and only requires two titanium bolts to fasten the whole thing together. This design decision gives Da Package its iconic pointy look and really makes it stand out.
My only gripe about the design of Da Package is that I would have loved a stem cap to match the unit. I got lucky when I dropped by my local shop, Martys Mountain Cycle , and found a pretty awesome, beautifully machined Chromag cap that matched perfectly. Along with some jet black Chromag grips, I was ready to roll.
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I replaced my stock alloy Salsa bars with Da Package. The quality upgrade wasn't one or two steps up, it was 12. For my first ride with Da Package, I hit some new trails that I have never visited called Partridge Hills and headed to a lookout point that overlooks Finlayson Arm here in Victoria.
The bars felt instantly great. As a rigid rider, I take a lot of shock to the arms and have developed a pretty keen sense of vibration. Da Package was stiff exactly when I needed it to be, but was able to dampen the chonk when necessary. I'll be totally honest here, I am not sure if this comes from We Are One's engineering or the qualities of carbon as a material, or both—but really, who cares. They feel great.
I had some apprehension about the shallow backsweep and was mentally prepped to feel some discomfort in my wrists. I was surprised when this didn't happen. For the past two years, I have been running bars with 11 degree sweep and did a short sprint on a set of bars with a 22 degree sweep. Turns out, I like shallower sweeps and with the 800mm width the 8 degrees was perfect.
Through the singletrack, Da Package performed amazingly. The width allowed for precise and responsive movement. Allowing me to micro adjust over anything at super low speeds.
I made a mistake while ordering Da Package. I would have liked a bit more rise in the bars but I won't fault them for my own stupidity.
I can't properly vouch for the technical claims that We Are One is making regarding Da Package's performance and durability. However, ignoring these claims would be to ignore some pretty simple logic: that a purposely designed stem and bar combo is better (and safer) than disparate components. I mean, how many people have cracked carbon seat tubes for this very reason?
At $399 CAD ($299 USD) Da Package is not the cheapest solution on the market. But they look and feel fantastic, allowing you to ride harder for longer, and for me, that's all that matters.
|Purpose designed stem, sleeve and bar combo|
|Beauty in that raw carbon|
|That 8 degree backsweep is perfect|