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The Aeroe Spider Rear Rack is a quick-fitting, tough and flexible rack for hanging Aeroe's excellent luggage system off. Fitting to pretty much any bike, with a 5mm hex, and staying exactly where you left it over the roughest terrain, it's an investment in many future travels.
Aeroe is a New Zealand-based manufacturer of high-end bike luggage. It's taken a system mentality to its products, with everything designed to play together nicely. It has two luggage packs in the form of 8 or 12-litre drybags, and an 11-litre Quick Mount Pod (review to come). All are designed to fit onto mounts bolted to the Spider Rear Rack.
There's also the very good Spider Cradle front rack, which holds a drybag or tent.
At its most basic level, the Spider Rear Rack is a U-shaped alloy tube, held at right angles to your seatstays and fixed in place with a cunning strap mechanism. You bolt the luggage mounts – 'cradles' or 'pods' – to the U-shaped tubing, and go ride.
The system that fixes to the seatstays is identical to the front Spider rack: two long, threaded 5mm hex bolts 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 stays.
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 two lengths of strap are provided, increasing that range, from the skinniest of steel stays up to hydroformed alloy whoppers of 50mm.
The feet are 33mm wide each, with a gap between the insides of 55mm.
Aeroe recommends using a layer of tape if you're fitting the rack to carbon tubes – good practice on paintwork you want to keep perfect 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 (taking care not to go too far, as it's not captive so will fall out). You need to slacken off the four bolts securing each foot to the tube too. Then offer it up to the stays, angle the feet to match the stays, and clip in the first end of one strap to one of the holes. Then, wrap it around the stay and clip in the tightest of the two holes at the other end.
Using a long 5mm hex, you then wind the bolt in to take up the slack. This is where you need to pay attention: if the sliding nut is more than halfway to being fully wound out, you will likely need to unwind it, go back and reposition the strap tighter at the start. This is critical, because if you wind all the way out to the stops and the tension isn't optimal then the rack will slip.
If all is good, you can then swap to a 4Nm torque tool, and tighten to spec; 4Nm makes for a tight fit, with no chance of slipping. You get a feel for what's tight enough to not move, and so long as you're sure the nut still has play to move once the cradle stops moving, you're clearly tight enough.
Aeroe says the alloy tube can be bent 20mm either way to accommodate stays of different widths. You can also rotate the whole rack 180 degrees, changing the distance of the top of the rack relative to your wheel, saddle or both.
I had to play around a bit to clear brake and gear cable braze-ons, adjusting up and down and sliding the whole tube in and out of the feet to get the lowest setting that would fit to keep handling snappy. Everything takes the one 5mm hex, and everything tightens to 4Nm. If you do need to do anything trailside, for any reason, it's an easy ask.
Finally, you can slide the tubing in the feet about 30mm to get the rack as close as possible to the tyre, thereby lowering the centre of gravity. If needed, you can trim the rack tubing ends short to get it even closer – I could see that being needed on a small-wheeled bike with steep seatstays, or if you needed to mount the feet higher up on the seatstay to clear a brake calliper or cable boss.
Once the rack's installed, what to bolt to it... There are a load of options to mix and match between the top and each side, using Aeroe's drybag cradles or its 11-litre Quick Mount Pod. Again, they all fit with a 5mm hex, tightening to 4Nm.
It's very easy to adjust the angle of installed kit to ensure heel clearance, aeroness (no pun intended) or clearance for dropper posts or suspension travel. With pods mounted on either side there's clearance for a 4in tyre.
Aeroe recommends a maximum load of 16kg, spread across a combination of its cradles (4kg each) or pods (7kg each).
Along with the rack you get a single Drybag Cradle, good for carrying drybags, tents, poles or wherever takes your fancy. The cradle attaches to the rack with a simple clamp fixed with four 5mm hex bolts, and you can change the orientation through 90 degrees.
The buckle system is nifty, with the ability to thread the straps through different slots to accommodate different diameters of loads.
Additional cradles cost £65, so if you want three cradles plus the rack you're looking at around £230 – not cheap at all – but that does give you the ability to carry a huge amount of gear.
Now, before a legion of audax-hardened pannier fans cry out 'HOW MUCH?' in unison, look at what a decent rack, pannier and top bag setup will cost you. If your bike can even take it... Also, if you need to unload your bike for any reason – to get over a fence/gate, on or off transport, up or down stairs at accommodation, and so on – the Aeroe system is going to beat most pannier systems hands down. Certainly, it's a much better idea to simply remove bags than if you're touring with a frame bag, and have to empty the whole bag out to get your stuff inside a bivvy, B&B or bunkhouse. Add rain, midges or darkness into the mix, and the Aeroe quick-removal proposition becomes even more appealing.
The rack (including one Drybag cradle) is €109.95, or about £100 before any import tax or duties, but you do get free global shipping. If you go for two of the 11L Pods and a 12L Drybag, you're looking at £340 plus duty. For two 12L drybags, an extra drybag mount and one Pod, it's £370.
And here's the rub (or lack thereof) in the Aeroe system. Yes, it's pricey – but what price confidence, stability, flexibility and ease of fitting and removal? Not everyone wants to spend the evening before and after every trip faffing with P-clips, small bolts, nyloc nuts or whatever to add or remove racks. Or festooning their beloved bike with paint-scratching bags that take ages to get just so. The Aeroe system is genuinely one that could be pulled from hand luggage and fitted to your bike in an airport baggage hall with a single 5mm hex, ready to wheel out the terminal door. Or lent to a friend the night before a big ride, confident that over the course of a single IPA it could be fitted securely to any bike and would stay thus. Try that with a traditional rack and panniers, folks.
Compared to traditional racks and panniers the Aeroe Spider system comes up well weight-wise, the system with one cradle weighing just under 1kg with one cradle, and around 1.6kg with three cradles fitted. Of course you then need to add in drybag weight, but not if you're simply strapping tents to the cradles. I'd say if weight is that important, you're probably not the target market for the Aeroe system.
We've seen some very spendy luggage systems before – Dave really liked the 800g, £339 Tailfin system – that's 20 litres of luggage and a weight limit of 9kg without pannier bosses – which again is Aeroe's target market. To be fair, Tailfin does a version that can carry around 20kg, if you have suitable frame bosses.
I really liked the £90 Topeak Tetrarack R2, but that's limited to a 9kg load and you're pretty much tied to Topeak's proprietary trunk bag/pannier ecosystem, plus the fiddly fixings weren't anywhere near as robust as the Aeroe Spider system. Given the choice (and budget), I'd choose the Aeroe system in a heartbeat.
I used the Aeroe Spider Rear Rack for days through the Highlands, battering at speed over very rough tracks, with no suspension, with a full load of gear, and it didn't budge one millimetre. I couldn't detect a hint of sway, unlike with even the stiffest of seatpacks. Leaning the bike up against fences, trees and so on carried no concerns, the gear all secure and the rack unmoving. Once home, it was the work of maybe 30 seconds to remove the entire system with a ratcheting 5mm hex tool, bags still attached.
Like pretty much anything cycling, the value is in the eye of the beholder. Somewhere on a gravel estate road between Laggan and Corrour Station I met a couple out touring, who had suffered no end of woes with their racks. After a few minutes checking over the Aeroe setup they were sold – loving the modular nature, clean lines, simple mounting and bombproof construction.
Of course, not everyone has the funds to pour into a setup like this, or maybe the weight is offputting. Or you want the super-clean aero lines of a full frame bag. That's cool – I have the 'traditional' light, fast setups used by folks on escapades like the Trans-Continental Race too. They have a place. For some, on some bikes, for some rides, the Aeroe Spider Rear Rack and its ecosystem will tick the right boxes, and they won't be disappointed. Choice is good.
Brilliant way to carry heavy loads, adaptable to multiple bikes over rough terrain
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Aeroe Spider Rear Rack
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 with bikes that won't take panniers, or who want to fit and remove luggage quickly, or who want flexibilty in load carrying.
Aeroe says: 'The Rack is the base layer of the aeroe system and includes one Cradle to carry your drybag or tent, which can be mounted horizontally or vertically. Secure with the built-in straps – no fiddly cables or fiddly attachments. Customise your ride with additional Cradles (up to three), Pods and aeroe accessories.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Weight: Rack with cradle & in-built straps - 979g (2.1 lbs). Rack alone - 641g (1.4 lbs).
Load capacity: 16kgs (35 lbs). Refer to Cradle and Pod for individual weights.
Materials: High grade stainless steel, anodized aluminium, glass reinforced nylon and silicone coated straps.
Can't fault it.
Held solid over the roughest terrain.
Looks like new, and will do pretty much forever as far as I can tell.
A kilo for the rack alone is not light – but the money has gone into strong, solid, functional design and materials.
It's not cheap, but for a rear rack ready to carry a drybag or tent, out of the box, on any bike, fitted in a few minutes, it's well worth the money.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Cannot fault it – it stayed 100% put and silent over very rough trails.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The quick fitting. It's genius.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
As with the other Aeroe products, only price and weight.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
While more expensive, it beats out others, such as the Topeak Tetrarack R2, on a number of fronts, including speed and ease of fit, robustness and payload.
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
This is an excellent piece of kit. Yes, it costs a lot and weights quite a bit, but if you are prioritising longevity and quality of use, it's ideal.
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