Velo Orange Utility Bar & Utility Rack: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Velo Orange is a bicycle and parts components purveyor which has been around since 2006. Founded as an importer of parts for cyclo-tourists, the company has grown to include frames, forks, and just about everything you might need to build up a bicycle. They also provide accessories like racks, fenders, and bags. In this review we are going to take a look at their newest handle bar and rack, which is meant to work together as a system, called the Utility Bar and Utility Rack.
What It Is: The Utility Bar and Utility Rack are a system that integrates the flat handle bar with a front rack meant to support front bags and light to medium weight cargo up to 12lbs. Both the handlebar and rack can be purchased in silver or black as tested here. Both the handlebar and rack are made from steel.
In the case of the Utility Bar, that steel is Chrome-molly and with the rack we are looking at stainless steel. The Utility Bar is configured in such a way that it has five mounting eyelets which are threaded through-holes, four of which are spaced in the same way that water bottle cages are spaced. This means that you can mount water bottle cages in two places, on the front or back of the handlebar, or the Utility Rack and water bottle cages. The Utility Bar comes in a flat (tested) or riser version.
The Utility Rack has tabs which allow for the rack to be oriented in two ways, and the unused tabs then can work as places to thread straps or hook to which can be useful for attaching bags or to use straps with to secure cargo to the rack. It also features eyelets placed at either end of the rack which would allow one to mount a generator light no matter which way you orient the rack.
The Utility Rack comes with stainless steel hardware to mount it to the Utility Bar. However; if you want to use some small spacers to place the rack further away from the Utility Bar, (which might be useful in order to run brake and shift cables or hydraulic hoses), you’ll have to come up with those spacers and longer bolts yourself.
The Utility Bar is just shy of 800mm in width and weighs in at 820 grams. The Utility rack weighs 570 grams with its included hardware. Prices are yet to be determined, but Velo Orange expects these bars and rack to be available by late May/early June of 2023. UPDATED 5/12/23: The pricing has been set at $130.00 USD for the Utility Bar and $90.00 USD for the Utility Rack for either black or silver.
First Impressions: The finish and design look well done and thought out. The handlebar is hefty in the hand and feels more like an implement of destruction than a bicycle component. That said, it has been tested to mountain bike standards and with it doing double duty as a rack mount, I would imagine that a bit more heft was required of it. The Utility Bar is a wide one with a bit of sweep. I measured it at approximately 12° with my digital protractor app. That’s a nice, comfortable amount of sweep and it should feel good when riding.
The way the supporting bar is oriented, and with the plane of the mounting holes for the rack being set in stone, you have a limited arc in which to set you preferred handlebar sweep – up or down. If you get too radical the rack platform will go tipping down or up too far to look “proper”. If you set up the rack platform to be level you’ll get a fairly level to the ground sweep, and that’s how I ended up doing it.
I used a set of mechanical linear pull brakes, so I was able to sneak the cables nicely out of the way, but I may come back to this and use some spacers to see if I can get a different lever orientation. Stay tuned on that. But for now, I topped off the set up with a set of cork grips and older Avid brake levers. I also added a bell. Then I utilized the opportunity to mount two water bottle cages as well. Once I had it all done I thought the set up looked handsome on my old Karate Monkey and I was eager to get a bag and try this all out with some weight on the bike.
So Far… The Velo Orange Utility Bar and Utility Rack are a unique front bag/cargo solution for bikepacking, gravel riding, commuting, or touring. It is a bit on the heavy side, but the steel construction should prove to be durable and strong. I liked the ability to orient the rack in two different ways and the versatility in being able to mount water bottle cages to the Utility Bar.
As stated, I have some ideas for how to use the Utility Bar and Utility Rack that I am excited to try out. Once I get through a few different uses for the set up I will come back with a final review of the system and let you all know how it worked out.
You can find out more about these and other Velo Orange offerings by visiting their webpage: https://velo-orange.com/
Note: Velo Orange sent over the Utility Rack and Utility Bar for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We are not being p[aid nor bribed for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.