Just when life seems too oppressing to continue, along comes this nifty little invention. In 15 years of perusing bike products, this is the first bike rack I’ve ever seen that made me want to voluntarily attach it to my own personal bike; most of them all look like identical taiwanese copies with equal ‘functions’ (normally you’d have to pay me to mount one). One look at the Pletscher ORION however makes me want to mount a set of slicks, slap on a rigid fork & embrace the life of a commuter!
The design of this bike rack is very cleverly thought out. It is made of cast aluminium and powdercoated in one of two colours: metallic silver or black. (I didn’t know that until I bought the silver version). The unit comes complete with 3 plastic shims to enable you to use this post with the following seatpost diameters: 25.4, 26.2, 27.2, 27.8, 28.6, 29.4, 30.2, 30.2, 31.0 and 31.6mm. Using rubber shims reduces the structural integrity of the whole contraption, so you’re advised to check that these are included in the little storage boot before purchasing (I didn’t realise they were even included until I’d already tried my own inferior one).
The instructions state that the maximum load is 8kg, although I believe that is a little optimistic (I’d say it has a safety limit of more like 5kg). But I’m sure this isn’t intended to be a a pannier rack; it’s more of a rack for commuters and the like.
Loading something onto the rack is easy enough and there is an inbuilt bungee cord to secure the cargo. There are plenty of attachment points; the twin 0.5m bungee cord sections can possibly be doubled up and used like a single 1m bunge cord for instance. Needless to say: if you’ve ever watched a McGyver episode, then you’ll find some ingenious way of securing your luggage. There’s also nothing stopping you from buying some additional cord, which would probably make life a bit easier.
One bonus feature that 99% of bicycle racks don’t come with – there is an integrated little plastic boot which has an uncanny resemblance to a pencil case (with just about as much storage room, ~0.6L). Keep in mind that access to the boot is impossible if you’ve just loaded some cargo on top the rack… having said that, I found this device particularly useful for smaller items that normally go in pockets. There’s also an optional rear light that cleverly mounts at the rear end.
All in all, this bike rack equates to freedom. It frees your body of your mobile phone, tools, money, keys, pens, as well as anything else you need to cart along. I first used the rack to transport three packages down to the post office. It performed flawlessly. On the way back up, I quickly took advantage of the rack as a place to mount my helmet (helmet’s are not compulsory in Spain for extended climbs).
I do have one gripe about this bike rack – the seatpost mount is rather chunky. I found it hit my hamstrings on occasion, even when it was mounted as low as possible (note there’s a fair bit of seat post extension showing in the photo). This is no doubt exaggerated by the laid back seatpost on the Mrazek concept bike, effectively moving that cumbersome bracket even closer to my legs. You may want to double check that there’ll be enough clearance for this rack before you commit to buying it.
Rather suprisingly, for a Swiss-made product, it’s a bargain for only â‚¬20.