Review: Velo-Orange Crazy Bar
I’ve been riding with Velo-Orange’s “Crazy Bar” for the last few months on my Surly Ogre taking it through its paces on some mixed terrain rides in the Portland area. Previously, I had been using the Jones Loop Bar and was curious to see how they would compare. In the land of multi-position trekking bars, the Loop Bar is king. So how does VO “Crazy Bar” compare? Read on.
Don’t poke yer eye out, son.
The Crazy Bar has a pretty unique shape that will probably not be for everyone (but neither will the Jones Loop Bar for that matter). It looks like a swept back city-style bar with some serious aero bars welded on at the bends. Just by its mere shape, it promises a plethora of hand positions. Laid on top of the Jones bar, the VO bar has a very similar rear bend. On both the bars, I found this primary position really comfortable and spend about 85% of my time there
Note the longer stem needed to use the VO bar vs. the Jones bars.
Where the bars differ are the center and aero positions. The VO bars give you a straight and flat center position which is similar to the center portion of a drop bar. It’s great for digging in on a climb and pulling on the bar or if you want to narrow your position to be more aerodynamic. The Jones Loop Bar has a slightly curved bar which is sort of awkward to pull back on since it places your wrists at an odd angle. Instead, I’ve found riding with my hands open and wresting my palm and fingers across the loop work best. You can still pull to climb and tuck in, but you are pulling on the looped portion further from you.
Dang shifter getting in the way of handlebar bliss.
Of course, the most conspicuous part of the Crazy Bar are the antler like bar extensions. I have sort of mixed feelings about them and think they will work best depending on what kind of shifters you are running and where you place them on the bar. Where they intersect actually creates a really nice hand hold for a sort of “on the hoods” position you would get from a drop bar. It’s a great position for standing climbs or stretching out a little more. You can also really build up that area up with bar tape to your liking. However, I feel that the kind of shifters you have will really determine the usability of the crux.
The comfort of the “on the hoods” can be really dependent on the shifter you have.
For example, I’m using the stock shifters with my Ogre which have these gear indicator windows. Unfortunately, the way the shifter is designed, the windows make that intersection of the bars uncomfortable. My palm is always laying flat on the shift window. I think shifters without anything to clutter that portion of the bar (grip shifters, shifters with no indicator) or with hinged clamps so you can attach them to the flat portion (Paul thumbies, etc.,) will make that section more usable.
The bar extensions also bend upward, sort of inviting you to use them as aero bars. For me and the setup of my bike, I found them a little too wide and placed me a little far over the front wheel than I would prefer. They do however, make excellent mounting points for a GPS, light, etc., They are also great for lashing things like a fly rod or tent poles too.
If you’re looking for a multi-position bar that gives you several hand positions to play with, then the VO Crazy Bar might be the bar for you. Retailing at $60 it is not inexpensive but is a lot more affordable than the Jones Loop Bar which sells for $120. There is a lot to like about the Crazy Bar. I found its primary riding position really comfortable and its flat section great for climbs and ducking out of the wind. However, with my current shifters, the intersection of the bars was not very useful which is a shame since it would give a great “on the hoods” position. The extensions, in my opinion, are a bit wide to use as aero bars, but do excel as mounting and lashing points. The bar is far from perfect, but I’m glad that it exists. It’s great to have some outside the box bike components now and again to keep things fresh and give us options!
-Comfortable primary riding position, great secondary and tertiary riding positions
-Much more affordable than Jones Loop Bar
-Lots of lashing and mounting points
-Some positions usability determined by shifters
-Not recommended for mountain biking
-Aero ends not super functional
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