Velo Orange Utility Bar and Rack Review: Utility Brack!?
The Velo Orange Utility Bar and Rack is a unique front rack system that works on any bike and provides an adjustable L-shaped platform that can haul up to 15 pounds. The Utility Bar has a pair “alien-eye mounts” and a corresponding set of rider-facing mounts for even more utility. Neil has been testing the system for the past few months. Find his review here…
Have you ever wanted to mount a front rack to your bike, but you can’t due to an incompatible bike or a conflicting rack design? It happens, and it’s frustrating. To solve this, Velo Orange came up with an integrated rack and handlebar system that can easily be mounted to any bike. We’ve been testing the Velo Orange Utility Bar and Utility Rack for several months to see how they work together. Watch the video review below, and scroll down for a written version, photos, and specs.
Velo Orange Utility Bar
The Utility Bar is the heart of Velo Orange’s new Utility System. The bar features integrated threaded mounts so you can attach a Utility Rack (sold separately) to the front, and it also has rider-facing mounts to add bottle cages in the cockpit position. You can even install four bottle cages if you’d like.
The heat-treated cromoly steel Utility Bar comes in two variations: Flat Bar and Riser Bar. Both are 780mm wide, have a 15° backsweep and 2° rise angle, and are available in black or silver finishes. I tested the black riser option, which is has 69 millimeters of rise, putting the rider in a much more upright position. Both bars are tested and rated for mountain biking.
The unique feature on the Utility Riser Bar are the mounts that protrude up at an angle from the bar, which Velo Orange calls alien-eye mounts. These are aligned with the two mounts on the bar itself to match the spacing of a traditional pair of bottle mounts. The two pairs allow you to attach their Utility Rack (sold separately), a unique L-shaped rack that mounts to the Utility bars using four M5 bolts.
- Model Tested: Velo Orange Utility Riser Bar
- Actual Weight (Bars): 669 grams (23.6 oz)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price (Bars): $130
- Manufacturer’s Details: Velo Orange
Velo Orange Utility Rack
The Utility Rack is designed to integrate seamlessly with the Riser and Flat Utility Bars and is the perfect size and shape for a wide variety of bags and cargo. You can lash on a backpack, 12-pack, basket, or almost anything to the platform, making it a good solution for commuting, bikepacking, grocery-getting, or any other bike-hauling duties.
The Utility Rack is made from chromoly steel tubing and provides multiple mounting orientations: tall and shallow or long and low. Each position also offers a little wiggle-room via the sliding connections, providing a bit of vertical micro-adjustment. Four additional eyelets double as bottle cage mounts on the rider side of the bar, providing a convenient position for a bottle cage or to simply add cargo cages for more storage. When bolted to the four mounts in the front, the rack has a weight capacity of 15 pounds (or just about the weight of a 12-pack).
- Model Tested: Velo Orange Utility Rack
- Actual Weight (Rack): 546 grams (19.3 oz)
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Price (Rack): $90
- Manufacturer’s Details: Velo Orange
I decided to test this system on my Surly Grappler commuter/kid-hauler, a bike I use for a little bit of everything. The installation of the bar and rack is about as straightforward as it gets: mount the bar to the stem and then the rack to the bar. I messed around with the rack in a few positions, but I enjoyed using it in the long and low position, as this places the weight lower and closer to the bars.
The Utility Rack and Bar certainly took some getting used to. The rack mounts pretty high up on the bar, making your load feel a bit top-heavy. I briefly installed the rack using just the lower mounting points on the bar instead of all four, and it was significantly less stable, so I moved it back to the four positions as it was designed.
Like most loads on a bike, I got used to the added weight and position after a few days of riding. The bars are noticeably heavier than what I had on there previously, which I could feel. Still, I noticed the rise more than anything after replacing some older flat bars. The Utility bar put me in a very upright and comfortable position with the rise and backsweep.
As for the rack, I used it to carry a lot of things: bread, beer, beans, and boxes. And it can handle other things that don’t start with “B” as well, for the record. The cool thing about this system is it already has a supportive platform to strap your cargo; all you need is some Voilé Straps or bungees, whereas a flat-top rack is a little more limited right off the bat. I eventually added a Wald basket with some zip-ties, which worked well going to and from the farmers market or post office.
If I were to change anything on this system, I would make a slightly wider 800mm version of the bar. I’d also try to lower the load, but this would either mean a redesign of the rack or putting the alien-eye mounts below the bar, which might be challenging.
Price and Weight
The Velo Orange Utility Riser Bar tips the scales at 669 grams and sells for $130, and the Utility Rack is 546 grams for $90. The full kit is $220 with a weight of 1,215 grams, or 2 pounds and 11 ounces. The price is right in line with many top-loader bags available on the market, and the weight isn’t far off considering the handlebars are part of the system.
- Rack solution that works on nearly any bike
- Rack can be mounted in several orientations
- Slick design with rack mounts doubling as bottle mounts on the rider side
- The large platform is ready for hauling, just needs straps
- Bar itself puts riders in a very upright and comfortable position
- Places weight relatively high
- Narrow; would like to see a wider ~800mm bar
- Fairly expensive
Overall, the Velo Orange Utility Bar and Rack system felt solid with or without a load. The bolts remained tight and the rack is in great shape after a few slow tumbles in the garage. And while I didn’t get around to using it for bikepacking, I would certainly feel comfortable taking this setup out on an extended trip. With the redundancies in mounting options and bolts, you could configure it in a way to get out of a bad situation if something were to break. That said, it’s a bit heavy compared to other handlebar systems.
I thoroughly enjoyed using the Utility Bar and Rack this summer. It offers loads of versatility, works on almost any bike, and is an absolute cinch to install, which is not something you can always say when it comes to front racks.
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