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The Aeroe Spider Cradle for handlebars/forks is a great way to carry kit and stop it interfering with cables and paintwork. At nearly half a kilo it's a heavy option, but then it's an absolutely bombproof way to quickly fit and carry a lot of gear on different bikes.
Aeroe hails from Aotearoa/New Zealand, land of the number 8 wire mentality of making do with what you've got. Years back, its founders invented a bike rack design that was purchased by Thule and reincarnated as the rather good Thule Pack 'n Pedal Tour Rack. Now the company has come up with the Spider Rack system for bikepacking – the bar/fork cradle here and a rear rack (review coming soon) – and it's a far cry from a number 8 wire bodge.
Most bikepacking bar mounts are fabric, strapped to the bar with nylon webbing. Sometimes they're internally reinforced with stiffeners, such as the Restrap Bar Bag Holster, but all 'soft' designs suffer the same issue: the weight of the load drags it down into your cables and, sometimes, onto your head tube to wear the paint.
Aeroe's system (identical to its rear rack) has two long hex bolts that winch back a sliding nut inside the 'foot'. That nut has notches, into which fit the ends of a rubberised strap that goes around your bar. The ends of the strap have two holes apiece, to allow a single strap to fit a wide range of bar, fork or frame tube diameters, and you get two lengths of strap to cover pretty much every common diameter.
The feet are 33mm wide each, with a 55mm gap between them to accommodate your stem. Aeroe recommends a layer of tape if you're fitting it to carbon – good practice on paintwork too.
The process takes a bit of practice, but pretty quickly you work out how to fit or remove it speedily. I found that winding the nut all the way out was the best way to start (but taking care not to go too far, as it's not captive so will fall out). The recommended 4Nm bolt torque makes for a tight fit, with no chance of slipping.
You do need to be aware of the ends of the straps – if you're using the innermost holes there's a good centimetre of metal plate standing proud, which could cut into cables if in the wrong place.
It's the rock-solid fit that impresses most: you really don't want your cables or paintwork crushed or scarred by a handlebar load. The ability to fit and remove it quickly is a bonus for speedy getaways.
The cradle section is similarly clever. The 'arms' have two slots, and the two closer-in slots put the straps in a good place for narrow loads like tent poles or fishing kit. The buckles and straps are tough, with the excess strap retained by a sliding ring.
Aeroe rates the Spider Cradle for 5kg of load, 1kg more than its own dry bags. I'd say this is conservative, but the chances of wanting or needing to carry more than 5kg on your bar – or one fork leg – are pretty low.
On a fork, the larger strap fits easily around a modern, 36mm mountain bike fork. The actual diameter I made it fit around was just under 50mm – which is a very hefty fork or frame tube, and way fatter than any handlebar. If the fork is of a particularly aero profile, though, as many carbon forks for gravel or road are, then the feet of the mount can easily rotate and loosen. The same issue could occur with aero bars with aggressive top profiles.
Aeroe might get around this by offering different insert feet, in the same fashion as rear light manufacturers do for fitting lights to aero seatposts, but it doesn't so far.
Apart from possible heel strike, there's no reason I can see why you couldn't also fit the Spider Cradle to the seatstays, as the fitting mechanism is exactly the same on the Spider Rack.
Over multiple days, battering about rough trails with a hefty load onboard, the Spider Cradle didn't budge an inch. It's so firm you can easily pick up the front of the bike with it. The confidence that gave made for a relaxing ride.
At camp, being able to unclip the bag quickly to get it inside a tent and away from The Midge made life more pleasant too, as did being able to re-attach it quickly next morning in the rain.
Having the cradle stand out from the bar meant my hands were unimpeded across the whole of the tops – a major selling point over cradles that strap direct to the bar.
The closest functional comparison to the Aeroe Spider Cradle is probably the £45 drj0n Bagworks Strap Deck & DeWidget 'G FuNk' combo. Several caveats here, though: this option, while superlight at 63g, doesn't include straps, is limited to 1.2kg, and has restricted finger clearance.
The Spider Cradle's price of around £61 (at current exchange rates – it's €70.95 including shipping) plus any import taxes is a good deal compared with the £110 Restrap setup mentioned above, factoring in the need to buy a decent dry bag and small food bag.
The Aeroe Spider Cradle is robust and easy to fit, and although that comes at the cost of weight, if you want a tough, unmoving bikepacking mount that solves the usual risks to cables and frames, it should be high on your list.
Brilliant (if heavy) way to carry a lot of gear without trapping cables or scarring your paint
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Aeroe Spider Cradle – handlebar and fork
Size tested: n/a
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?
It's for people wanting to carry lots of luggage on their bars, with no cares for finger space, cable crushing or paint scratching.
Aeroe says: 'Mount the Handlebar/Front Fork Cradle directly to the handlebar or front of any bike or e-bike. Whether it's attached vertically or horizontally, the Handlebar/Front Fork Cradle enables you to bring an additional 5kg without compromising your ride.
Bring that extra drybag, a lightweight tent or sleeping bag and enjoy easy access during your ride. The Handlebar/Front Fork Cradle is perfect for commuting or when your Rear Rack is at capacity.
Pack, attach and go for an unrivaled ride, everytime.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight: 479g (1lb) (includes in built straps) [455g measured]
Load capacity: 5kgs(11lbs)
Materials: High grade stainless steel, anodized aluminium, glass reinforced nylon and silicone coated straps.
Can't fault it – bombproof.
Brilliant – didn't budge a millimetre.
Early days, but can't see it breaking.
Nearly half a kilo before you add a dry bag.
It's good value compared to other dry bag holsters out there.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it. It keeps loads where they should be, with no swaying, rattling or moving.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The clamp mechanism is genius.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's pretty much in a class of its own, holding this amount/weight of kit clear of the cables and head tube without being a full-on front rack.
The closest functional comparison is probably the £45 drj0n Bagworks Strap Deck & DeWidget 'G FuNk' combo, but that doesn't include straps, is limited to 1.2kg, and has restricted finger clearance.
The Restrap Bar Bag Small is £109.99, and comprises a holster, dry bag and small food bag.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The only areas it falls down on are price and weight – the functionality is superb.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L