Aeroe Spider Rear Rack and Handlebar Cradle: Tested
Over the last few years, in the pages of Adventure, you may have followed my exploits in the world of bikepacking. With every trip I’ve found new challenges and experiences to learn from. I now know there are things to check throughly – apart from the bike – to ensure the essentials of your food, clothes and shelter at the right levels. 1) Do I have enough room to accomodate everything I need for the length of my trip? 2) How is my gear attached to the bike and how secure is it? Finally, 3) What is the performance of my fully loaded packed bike? To answer these questions, I turned to a new bike rack system: the Aeroe Spider Rear Rack and Handlebar Cradle.
New Zealand-based brand, Aeroe, maintain it has designed a front-mounted cradle and rear rack that gives you multiple options for how you pack your bike. On top of this, the promise this system fits any bike and that it is simple to use to carry any gear. This is a new way to carry gear for me, with the Spider rear rack being attached to the rear stays. The rack then perfectly sits around your rear wheel, offering you multiple positioning options for your cradle and gear to sit. Previously, I’ve used a bikepacking bag that has been attached to the underside of my saddle and seat post. Although this design worked, I always felt the bag was moving side to side, and thinking back – it never truly felt secure.
On first impressions, the Spider Rear Rack already looks like a big improvement, and has certainly taken away any insecurities with regards to holding and securing my gear. The advantage of this rack becomes clear when I start to pack the bike. Basically, it gives you options on where you want to place the cradles, so on top or on either side of your bike. The Spider Rear Rack comes with one cradle, so you will have to purchase more if you want to add bags to the rack. You also have to purchase the bags – there are two sizes: 8L and 12L).
I’m already thinking I can carry a lot more with very little extra effort, which in turn equals longer trips and more exploring on the cards. One feature I did appreciate, was the fact I only needed a 5mm Allen key to loosen or tighten any of the racks or cradles. This makes it all so simple and very reassuring in case I needed to make any adjustments out in the wild.
Each cradle is made of a heavy-duty plastic and naturally curved so it starts to wrap around your gear once placed. Two adjustable cradle straps then clip together to firmly hold down any bag or tent. To complement this system, Aeroe has designed a number of waterproof dry bags. I run the smaller 8L bag which has built in eyelets for the cradle straps to feed through, giving extra security and peace of mind knowing I’m not going to lose anything.
The handlebar cradle and bag mimics the rear rack with the same adjustable strap to loosen and tighten once the cradle’s feet are in position. It could not have been simpler to put together and within 30 minutes, the bike is starting to look adventure-ready!
In the field
I tested the Aeroe Spider Rear Rack and Handlebar Cradle on an overnighter in the Blue Mountains. I took my gravel bike, which is my go-to ride when bikepacking. My drop handle bars are slightly flared, but I know the bar should be wider to accommodate not just this bag but any bikepacking bag. That said, the handlebar bag and cradle had a snug fit and gave me no issues on the trip.
Hands down, I cannot fault the Spider Rear Rack – its design is just solid. It naturally feels like an extension of your bike frame. On the trail, I had to look behind me a few times to make sure everything was still there and in place, as I felt no movement or unusual weight distribution from behind. There are little things you notice with this system that may not be so obvious when starting out. For example, when I reached camp, it just felt so easy to unclip my dry bags, access what I need and walk away from the bike to set up camp.
The final word on the Aero Spider Rear Rack and Handlebar Cradle
It’s easy to see why these racks are so good. For me they just shouted quality and adventure. There’s a robust strength running through the design, which means you don’t have to tip-toe around your bike checking and adjusting constantly. Personally, I’m now more excited about where this system will take me. My bucket list has a trip on it which covers the historic huts of the NSW and Victorian High Country on and flat-barred hardtail bike. These bags and racks will be the perfect riding partners.
RRP: $190 (Spider Rear Rack); $123 (Handlebar Cradle); $86 (8L HD dry bags)