The Specialized/Fjällräven Handlebar Rack is a secure way of transporting luggage without it interfering with your cables. It can be mounted to your handlebar at two different heights, allowing the rack to accommodate smaller frames and shorter head tubes. On the highest setting it does sit a little awkwardly high, preventing you from mounting a bike computer on your bar. It's also quite expensive.
By giving your luggage a place to rest while you ride, the Handlebar Rack prevents it from moving around in a way that might upset your bike's handling. It also makes it easy to load and unload luggage to it without worrying about umpteen straps and loops, and it even acts to prevent interfering with, and potentially damaging, your bike's cables.
It's made from aluminium, and fits 31.8mm handlebars only. The rack has been tested and approved for aluminium bars, whether straight or drop, so you might not want to attach it to carbon bars.
S/F has designed the Handlebar Rack to play nicely with its Handlebar Bag – also on test, review to come – though it will work with any kind of luggage in theory. Provided it can be strapped in place, it'll go. The bottom of the rack is only 14cm long, so you're not going to be able to strap a really big bag to it, but it's generous enough that most drybags or small rack bags will fit. S/F doesn't supply any straps or bungees, so you'll need to bring your own.
The rack attaches via two individual mounts, each with two bolts to clamp them around the bar and the rack. These bolts are a little tricky to access because of the height of the rack and the lack of access underneath. Regular hex keys are just too short, so I used a ratchet handle in combination with a long extension bar, with a hex adapter, which made the job much easier.
S/F recommends having the mounts level with the ground, and you can attach them to either of the two bars at the top of the rack, depending on the size of your bike and head tube. Attached to the top one, the rack sits noticeably lower, but it's useful having the option of the higher position (as show below) if you have a small frame and very little room between the handlebar and wheel. (I've an XL frame, so no worries there.)
The rack also comes with an anti-rotation guy line, its purpose being to prevent the rack from tilting forward. I tried fitting this, but it was a little fiddly and I ended up leaving it off as the rack seemed pretty secure. Out on the rough stuff the rack stayed in place and didn't move about at all, even with a 2kg bag loaded on it.
The rack weighs 330g, and S/F states it's good for 5kg max, which is plenty in my opinion – anything more will really upset your bike's handling anyway.
> 15 easy ways to carry stuff on your bike
If you're using S/F's companion Handlebar Bag, the rack allows the bag's straps to loop neatly around the underside for security, and the top of the bag can be fastened down tightly thanks to a attachment point at the top, though I noticed that this was hard to operate due to a lack of space for your hands – hard to say if that's a downside of the rack's design or the bag's, though.
The rack also has three threaded holes in the lower bar, allowing you to mount things like lights or a camera underneath – a nice touch given the rack takes up your handlebar space.
The S/F Handlebar Rack works well, but it's not a cheap option. As usual with the S/F collection, the price depends on whether you buy from Specialized or Fjallraven – £90 from Specialized and £85 from Fjallraven (and currently £81 from Cyclestore). Even at £85, it's more expensive than other options out there.
Patrick highly recommended the JACK The Bike Rack over at off.road.cc, because of its simplicity and effectiveness. Plus it's £25/£30 less. The only downside right now is you can't actually buy it, as it appears to be stuck in limbo between Kickstarter (which closed a while back) and on sale.
Another simple option that I spotted a while ago is Restrap's Bumper Bar. It's not quite in the same league as it's only meant to act as a buffer for conventional bar bags that fasten to your handlebar, preventing them from swinging out front and interfering with your cables, rather than serving as a place to mount bags. It's only £40, but that seems a little pricey given it only does half the job of the S/F Handlebar Rack.
If you want a secure way to mount most kinds of bags for bikepacking, commuting or whatever, this S/F Handlebar Rack is a good option. The ability to attach accessories to the underside is also pretty neat. It works across a variety of frame sizes too, small or large.
A solid handlebar rack for mounting your bags in front of your bike, if a little expensive
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
Make and model: Specialized/Fjallraven Handlebar Rack
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
S/F says, "Versatile aluminium frame rack for transporting everything from postal packages to drybags or a tent on your bike. Attaches directly to the handlebar (fits handlebars with 31,8 mm diameter) and works with all types of bikes, except extreme downhill bikes. An anti-rotation guyline prevents the frame rack from tilting forward. Webbing straps to attach gear are not included. Part of the Fjällräven/Specialized series for urban rides and bikepacking adventures. Note: The handlebar rack is only tested and approved for aluminum handlebars."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Light and strong aluminum construction.
Three under-rack accessory mounting holes for lights, cameras, etc.
Max load of 5kg.
Fits handlebars with 31.8 mm diameter and works with most types, including straight and drop models.
Compatible with Specialized's Future Shock suspension system.
Dimensions: 20 x 18 x 13 cm.
Rate the product for quality of construction:
Powdercoated aluminium frame – seems very well built.
Rate the product for performance:
Mounts securely, carries all kinds of bags.
Rate the product for durability:
Powdercoating will get scratched eventually – better to go with a stainless steel rack if that's a worry.
Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
Rate the product for value:
Pricier than JACK The Bike Rack that we praised a while back. Both racks are fairly similar in what they do, but go about it in a slightly different way. Unfortunately JACK The Bike Rack isn't currently available for sale.
At this price I would have liked to have seen a couple of straps included.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Spacious rack that stayed securely fastened and didn't move about during testing.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
That most bags can be mounted to it.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Access to the mounting bolts is a little fiddly.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Pricier than JACK The Bike Rack that we praised in testing a while back, both racks are fairly similar in what they do, but go about it in a slightly different way. Unfortunately JACK The Bike Rack isn't currently available for sale.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes, though I'd also consider the Jack The Bike Rack if it was available.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
A good quality handlebar rack that is very effective – it's secure and you can mount a variety of bags to it.
Age: 39 Height: 6'4 Weight: 175lbs
I usually ride: Condor Italia RC custom build My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, mtb,
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