Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Going Flat: Velo Orange Utility Bar & Utility Rack

Yesterday you got a sneak-peek at the handlebar/rack set up that I have on the Karate Monkey. You may have thought, "But wait! Didn't GT show us his Orange Crush as the bike he was going to go with flat bars?"

Yes, you would be correct. That was the plan, but there was some sort of wire crossing somewhere that led me to go with the Karate Monkey after all, and you might be surprised to know that was my first choice anyway. 

So, briefly then: I was offered a chance to review this rack and handle bar (Standard Disclaimer) and there were two options in finish- silver or black. I originally wanted black and had thought to mount the parts to the Karate Monkey. However; somehow I came to understand that black would not be available until later this month but that silver was available immediately. Okay, I could use that on the Orange Crush, but I'd need some silver levers and why not use Velo Orange cantis too? So, that's why I wrote what I wrote last week. 

You can imagine my surprise then on Friday when I opened up the box and saw a black component. Well......back to the drawing board! I sought out my black/grey Avid levers and found them, so that led me back to the Karate Monkey and well, there you have it!

Okay, now with that out of the way, let's talk about this Utility Bar and Utility Rack. These parts are meant to work together to form a solid cargo-carrying option for flat bar bikes. The Utility Bar is made from ChroMo steel and is available in riser and flat (shown) options in black or silver. The Utility Rack is an stainless rack that bolts to the Utility Bar in one of two orientations- With the longer part on the bottom or the shorter part on the bottom. There are also eyelets for a generator light mount, centered, in either orientation. 

The Utility Bar has eyelets to mount the Utility Rack in four spots, but these are through-hole, threaded mounts which are also spaced perfectly for a water bottle cage. So, you could mount the rack, use water bottle cages facing you, or not use the rack and have water bottle cages facing away from you. I suppose you could also use something like a Wolf Tooth B-Rad accessory mount to do all kinds of stuff with as well. 

The Utility Bar is not lightweight. You can imagine that it has to be somewhat stout to support a rack, and it is rated to MTB test spec. That said, it weighs in at 820 grams. The Surly Moloko Bar, a steel multi-hand position flat bar, weighs in at a claimed 100 grams less than that, for comparison. The Utility Bar is also pretty wide at just shy of 800mm with my Cardiff cork grips installed. 

A new look up front.

The Utility Rack weighs in at 570 grams with hardware. It has a 12lb weight limit (conservatively) and price is yet to be determined with an availability late this month or the first part of June. Same deal with the Utility Bar in terms of pricing and availability. UPDATED 5/12/23: The price for the Utility Bar in Black or Silver is $130.00 and the Utility Rack is $90.00 in either color, black or silver.

I mounted everything up and installed two stainless steel water bottle cages on there for good measure. The bike rides and handles very nicely with this set up. I was a bit afraid that the Utility Bar would be too stiff, but it does have some give to it and the cork grips lend some comfort as well. I've got a line on a Velo Orange handle bar bag that will sit nicely on this rack, so I am looking forward to getting that and seeing how this all will work together. 

I'll have a full review on Riding Gravel on this also. More soon.....


Rydn9ers said...

It'll be interesting to see if those water bottle cages seem to get in the way where they are at or if they went unnoticed.

Guitar Ted said...

@Rydn9ers - Agreed. I thought they sat up a little high. That said, once I get a handlebar bag on there, or a handlebar roll, it may not look so awkward. I have been tooling around with two full standard sized bottles and so far, no issues. It is kind of nice to have those bottles "right there" to grab a quick sip though.

Tomcat said...

I got my ear close to the ground on this release as I've been commuting quite a bit this year and a light duty rack like this would be perfect for holding a change of clothes and lunch. Thanks for sharing, GT!