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Retrospec Rover Hauler Review

This is an easy to assemble and use bike trailer that will get your picnic to the park without any drama
Retrospec Rover Hauler
Photo: Retrospec
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Price:  $200 List | $129.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy of use, smooth rolling
Cons:  Plastic wheels, not compatible with thru axle modern bikes
Manufacturer:   Retrospec
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 11, 2021
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64
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 9
  • Capacity - 30% 6
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Ease of Towing - 20% 6
  • Smoothness of Ride - 20% 6
  • Versatility - 10% 6

Our Verdict

Retrospec isn't necessarily a household name in the bike trailer market but what they lack in clout, they are making up for by undercutting the competition's prohibitive costs. The Rover Hauler proved to be a capable around-town cargo trailer option that worked well from grocery runs to hauling random trailside rubbish during a greenway cleanup. The two-wheel boxy design isn't the greatest for overall efficiency or bike touring, but it does offer ample space for a large cooler and the necessary robustness to haul when loaded down.

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Pros Easy of use, smooth rollingDurable, easy hitch, elastic cargo net, smooth ride, stands on its own, one wheelThree inches of adjustable suspension improves on and off road handling, tracks well behind rear wheel of bicycle, easy attachmentSolid axle makes the trailer stable for large heavy loads, folds down small for easy storage, open design allows for flexibility when hauling non-traditional cargoFlexible rubber hitch mount allows bike to lean without trailer leaning so climbing hills is much easier when you get off your seat, lightweight, durable
Cons Plastic wheels, not compatible with thru axle modern bikesHeavyIf packed uneven it can get wobbly on downhills, doesn't stand up on it's ownNo straps or dry sac includedEnclosed structure makes it difficult to lock your trailer up along with your bike, weather resistant but not watertight
Bottom Line This is an easy to assemble and use bike trailer that will get your picnic to the park without any dramaThis model combines the heavy duty build quality of some two wheeled trailers with the easy pull of a one wheel designIf you're going to tow, tow this trailerThis is the trailer for hauling the kitchen sinkA versatile model great for touring or just shorter trips to the grocery store
Rating Categories Retrospec Rover Hauler Burley Coho XC BOB Ibex Plus Burley Design Flatbed Burley Nomad
Capacity (30%)
6
8
7
9
8
Ease Of Use (20%)
8
9
9
9
7
Ease Of Towing (20%)
6
9
9
7
7
Smoothness Of Ride (20%)
6
8
9
7
7
Versatility (10%)
6
9
8
9
7
Specs Retrospec Rover... Burley Coho XC BOB Ibex Plus Burley Design... Burley Nomad
Capacity 80 lbs 70 lbs 70 lbs 100 lbs 100 lbs / 105 liters
Weight 20.1 lbs 21.5 lbs 17 lbs 14.5 lbs 15 lbs
Number of wheels 2 1 1 2 2
Size (when open, L x W x H) 27" x 24.5" x 20" 32.5” x 22” x 22.5” 62" x 17" x 16" 33" x 16.1" x 30.9" 32.4" x 26.8" x 22.8"
Wheel Size 16" 16” 16" x 2.125" 16" 16"
Access into trailer Top Top Top, sides Top Top
Cover Protection Weatherproof cover None Yellow Dry Sak None Weatherproof cover
Attachment to Bike Forged Steel Hitch Quick release Quick release Forged Hitch Forged aluminum hitch

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.

Performance Comparison


In an attempt to load down the Rover with odd items of varying sizes...
In an attempt to load down the Rover with odd items of varying sizes and weights, we went on a greenway trail cleanup. Hauling old tires, mountains of plastic waste, and even an old traffic cone. Thanks, Rover!
Photo: Brian Martin

Capacity


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.

The Rover managed to contain a 45-quart hard shell cooler along with...
The Rover managed to contain a 45-quart hard shell cooler along with our lawn chair with room to spare. The two-wheel design allowed us to haul a relatively uneven load without much drama.
Photo: Brian Martin

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

Overall the Rover tows quite well, though we have one gripe. As this...
Overall the Rover tows quite well, though we have one gripe. As this is a longer trailer than some, the wheels are placed so far back that having a heavy load puts a noticeable amount of force on the rear bicycle wheel and triangle. This was most noticeable when we were off the bike walking or pushing.
Photo: Brian Martin

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.

Unloaded the Rover is a rattly son of a gun. When loaded it isn't...
Unloaded the Rover is a rattly son of a gun. When loaded it isn't too bad, though like other similarly priced trailers, attachment points are largely held with thru-pins and clips that do make a racket. Outside of the noise, the wheels rolled smoothly and overall performance on tarmac was great.
Photo: Brian Martin

Versatility


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).

The Rover has a snug top cover with durable feeling plastic clips to...
The Rover has a snug top cover with durable feeling plastic clips to secure it in the front. Bungee attachment points on the inside also allow you to secure larger objects without risking them being ejected.
Photo: Brian Martin

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

An empty two-wheeler with endless options.  The Rover was an overall...
An empty two-wheeler with endless options. The Rover was an overall solid performer for around-town goings-on.
Photo: Brian Martin

Brian Martin