Retrospec Rover Hauler Review
Cons: Plastic wheels, not compatible with thru axle modern bikes
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Perhaps like you, we hadn't heard of the brand Retrospec before getting our hands on the Rover Hauler, but name recognition isn't the best indicator of a quality product these days anyway. While the Rover didn't win any awards, we feel it deserves its due "Respec" as a functional low-cost cargo trailer option.
The Rover Hauler boasts an 80-pound weight capacity which is a pretty wild amount of weight unless you have a decent E-bike. We took Retrospec at their word and loaded the Rover down with north of 80 pounds of equipment including our large cooler, some kettlebells, and jugs of water. We were actually more worried about breaking our bike as this did put some odd forces on the rear triangle. If we learned one thing from our overloading it's the fact that the Rover does a good job when it's loaded down. The overall space is decent as well, allowing us to haul a full-size cooler and lawn chair with room to spare.
Ease of Use
We had the Rover out of the box and assembled in minutes. While there are instructions included, they really aren't needed as the wheels and axle can only be attached one way and it's done easily. Once the hitch is mounted it can live on the bike permanently and won't look too out of place to anyone but the most nitpicky type-A folks. The flap/cover is also easy to secure and remove with two large buckles at the front of the trailer.
Ease of Towing
When it comes to ease of towing, less is usually more. Two wheels are generally much less efficient, heavier, and create more wind resistance than single-wheel trailers. Despite being a dually, the Rover does pretty well in this category. We found it far too rattly and bouncy on chunky dirt roads, but when sticking to paved paths the Rover did a great job with smooth wheel bearings and road slicks for tires. A few drawbacks include the tiny wheels which seem to amplify bumps and potholes and having wheels placed very far back on the trailer chassis. Having the wheels back from the center helps with balance and torq, but the wheels on the Rover seem to be so far back that having a heavy load near the front pulls on the rear of your bike. This was remedied with more careful packing, however.
Smoothness of Ride
The Rover is most at home rolling around on city streets and paved bike paths. Even hardpacked greenway trails were managed well but as things got chunkier the smoothness score plummetted. The rigid frame and plastic wheels transmit bumps directly into the trailer contents. Supposing the trailer wasn't fastened with several pin/clip style fasteners, the racket might have been a bit more bearable. This racket and bounce ultimately relates back to efficiency and detracts both from the ride smoothness and overall towing resistance. That being said, the Rover really does roll smoothly on the pavement.
When considering cargo trailer versatility we not only look at what items and mass can be supported but also the uses and terrains the trailer is capable of handling. In the case of the Rover, it does quite well around town, from grocery shopping to picnics to hauling your climbing gear to the gym. Outside of tame urban environments, the Rover is a bit outgunned. The small wheels and rigid frame don't mesh well with the chunky non-smooth world of gravel roads and trails. That said, it does quite well hauling odd-sized and shaped objects including coolers, chairs, or even your dog! (Though it's probably not very safe for your dog to ride around in a cargo trailer).
As the Rover is near the bottom of the price range for bike cargo trailers, the fact that it zips around town without much drama does make it a solid value. But the reality seems to be such that at such a low price point quality has to be sacrificed in some areas. The Rover isn't elegant, it's more of a hatchet than a scalpel, but as such, it bashes around the city with little trouble and holds up to some abuse.
The Rover Hauler is a capable cargo trailer at a very approachable price point. It's not designed for unpaved off-road adventures, but for getting around the city, hauling your groceries, picking up trash, or getting your goodies to the park, it's right at home. We were able to haul a lot in this puppy, and assembly didn't even require us needing the instructions. When not loaded or on uneven ground, it can get rattly, but if you just need something for smooth pavement, this is an affordable choice.
— Brian Martin
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