Goodday Curiosity Spacer Cradle Review
Made in Gunnison, Colorado, the unique Goodday + Curiosity Spacer Cradle replaces a headset spacer, clamps to the steerer tube, and provides a sturdy steel mini-rack to support a dry bag or other burrito-shaped items. We had the chance to put one to the test for this review…
Regular readers may recall last year’s Field Trip featuring Gunnison, Colorado’s Goodday + Curiosity. Owners and operators Chris Besnia and Arly Landry combine their talents in steel fabrication and fabric construction to form a two-in-one company focused on utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing complete-package bikepacking bikes. They position themselves as “a place to commission artistic, handmade, custom bikes and bags,” but they also have a couple of readymade products on offer. One project they were working on during our previous interview was the Spacer Cradle, a clever mini-rack that mounts to the steerer tube. Since then, they’ve made some refinements and released the final version in late 2022. They sent us one to check out a few months ago, and I’ve taken it on several chunky rides for this review.
I love the idea of a minimal mini-rack front cradle—a lightweight, rigid system that keeps a front bag stable and out of the way of cables—but until recently, there haven’t been too many options on the market. I briefly tried the Salsa Anything Cradle when it came out back in 2016, but I kept having issues with cargo jettisoning when things got spicy. I should probably give it another go, especially since I’ve learned that Voilé straps solve all sorts of bag strap security issues. However, there are now some compelling alternatives.
How it’s Made
The Goodday + Curiosity Spacer Cradle distinguishes itself from the Anything Cage in several ways. First off, it’s constructed entirely from steel, with the main cradle consisting of four pieces of bent 3/8” 4130 Chromoly steel tubing. These tubing segments are welded to a cylindrical 20mm band. And instead of attaching it to your handlebars, the Spacer Cradle slides onto the fork steerer tube and clamps in place, effectively replacing a 20mm spacer. It’s worth noting that it can also be custom-made with a spacer of a different height, ranging from 15-50mm, to suit a specific setup.
The Spacer Cradle is built in three stages. First, the spacer for the steerer tube is cut to 20mm, and its edges are machined to align flush with any existing spacers. Second, the cradle oval is formed through a V-bend and affixed to the spacer using a three-part truss. Finally, it’s finished with a matte black powder coating (Chris prefers this over a glossy finish for reduced squeakiness). The cradle itself measures 230mm in width and features two strap guide loops to facilitate the attachment and removal of bags. Overall, it maintains a relatively simple and straightforward design, which is in line with its origin.
Spacer Cradle Background
The Spacer Cradle has undergone several iterations in its design, and this is the fourth version. Early prototypes used parallel bars instead of an oval shape. Chris noticed that the bar ends created wear points on bags, prompting the transition to the current design. Some of the previous versions also included strap guide pegs, which were later considered unnecessary. Eventually, the design evolved from a two-piece truss to a more stable three-piece truss, eliminating movement and vibrations. Chris also experimented with various tube wall thicknesses and settled on a “Goldilocks” thickness of .028 tubing.
Chris’s preferred style of bikepacking involves minimal and ultralight gear, with a strong preference for singletrack riding, which he refers to as “shred-packing.” When I asked Chris how he packs, he summed it up with, “My goal is to go mountain biking with my gear so thoughtfully packed that it doesn’t alter the way my bike rides, my line selection, or the fun factor.” He achieves this by optimizing the front triangle of his bike frames and maximizing their size based on the rider’s inseam. “For stability you want to keep your weight as low to the ground as possible, and the front triangle is the optimal place for additional weight,” Chris added. To further minimize his packing requirements, Chris selects routes with ample water sources and resupply opportunities for food, never requiring more than three days of riding without resupply. This mindset was the driving force behind creating the Spacer Cradle.
Prior to conceiving the Cradle, Chris simply strapped his front bag directly to his handlebar to keep the weight as close to the head tube as possible for stability. As we all know, this method has drawbacks, such as kinking the cable housing and potentially damaging the headtube’s paint. Conversely, traditional front racks often place the bag too far in front of the handlebars, affecting weight distribution and steering and obstructing the view of the front tire, which could disrupt technical riding. Chris emphasized that the Spacer Cradle is a tool designed for fast and efficient travel, rather than traditional bike touring. It is rated to handle loads of up to 10 pounds (4.54 kilograms).
On the Trail
In my experience out on the trail, the Spacer Cradle worked well for the style of packing and riding Chris intended. I loaded a medium Revelate Pronghorn dry bag with an ultralight three-person tent (without poles), a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, and a pillow. This combination fit perfectly within the concave area of the Cradle. The bag and its contents had a diameter of about 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) and weighed 4 pounds and 2 ounces (1.87 kilograms). Additionally, I lashed a seat pad made from a 30-gram scrap of foam to the outside of the roll. Give or take a couple of pounds, I think this relatively narrow and lightweight bundle is a pretty good example of what the Spacer Cradle can and should be used to carry.
As per Chris’s suggestion, I used the included velcro straps. I had initial concerns that the straps might shift or come loose at the bottom of the cradle, but I encountered no such issues, even after riding it on rugged terrain. While I’m confident that Voile Straps would work as well, the velcro straps offer a practical solution since they can remain in place within the loops even when the bag is removed.
The load is positioned relatively high, just in front of the handlebars, which seems to work well with suspension forks. Nevertheless, using larger-diameter drybags or running the Spacer Cradle on bikes with shorter head tube lengths might yield different results. For reference, the large Smuggler featured in these photos has a 120mm headtube and is equipped with a 140mm fork. I would prefer the Cradle to be a few centimeters deeper, placing the weight lower. This configuration would likely work well with most of my bikes but might make it somewhat less versatile, particularly with bikes featuring shorter head tubes. I didn’t feel too much of an adverse effect in steering or handling based on where it’s currently positioned, but lower is always better in my book.
Considering it’s full-on steel, the Spacer Cradle is remarkably light at only 230 grams, and when used with a relatively light and compact drybag, it weighs less than many handlebar rolls and harnesses; many of those fall within the weight range of 300-450 grams, for comparison. It also keeps the weight fairly close to the front of the handlebar, providing a similar feel to most handlebar roll bags.
I tested the Spacer Cradle on my Transition Smuggler, a bike with a particularly challenging cable routing situation. It’s probably the worst case scenario, to be honest. Reason being, the Smuggler features prominent, front-facing, forward-positioned cable ports that can be problematic when using a handlebar bag for bikepacking. Franky, they pretty much dictate the need for a cradle that pushes the load away from the headtube. The Goodday + Curiosity Spacer Cradle worked well in managing this cable complexity, and the middle truss provides a well-angled brace that prevented the front brake and dropper housing from crimping.
- Model/Size Tested: Goodday + Curiosity Spacer Cradle
- Actual Weight: 230 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Colorado, USA
- Price: $175
- Manufacturer’s Details: Goodday Curiosity
- Solid bag cradle that’s great for trail-oriented bikepacking and particularly well-suited for use on bikes with suspension forks
- Design does a good job at minimizing cable/bag interference
- Handmade in Gunnison, Colorado
- Universal system that works on a variety of bikes
- Simple three-truss design seems bombproof
- Limited to smaller loads; but that’s what it’s made for
- Relatively expensive
- Could be engineered to position the load a couple of centimeters deeper
- Won’t work if the stem is slammed to the head tube with no steerer tube space
Back in 2021, my year-end prediction was that more rack/bag hybrid systems would be envisioned and brought to market. I hoped that would include more handlebar mini-racks and cradles, but it took several years before we had a few good options. The Goodday + Curiosity Spacer Cradle is one of them. It’s not overly complex and doesn’t have many potential points of failure, such as modular parts, and it’s undergone a lot of rigorous testing and prototyping. And while it may not be for everyone, particularly those looking to carry larger front luggage, it works on pretty much any bike that one might take bikepacking—as long as there’s an extra 20mm of steerer tube under the stem—and it excels at what it was intended for: carrying a relatively minimal load in an efficient manner.
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