Review: Front runner Spare Tyre Mount BBQ

Review: Front runner Spare Tyre Mount BBQ

This review was thrown together for Intents Offroad by one Harry Fisher. I hope you’ll find this one as informative as it is entertaining (as I did). If it flies well, hopefully Harry will throw together some more in the future!

If you’re not a fan of a good story, and just want the facts; zip to the bottom!

Straight off the bat, there are a few things you should know about me.

  1. I absolutely love cooking on a fire. Cooking on a gas burner has its place (like hot days when you don’t want to be sweating over flames) but 95% of the time, my cooking is done using wood power.
  2. I have the coordination of a drunk toddler (disclaimer: I don’t recommend getting a toddler pissed to see what this looks like. Unless you hate them, or they’re not yours).
  3. When loaded, my Landcruiser weighs approximately the same as a medium sized office building; but only has about 20 sq.cm left (or about ½ a Chihuahua).
  4. I am sick of cramming my filth covered, heavy and smelly hotplate in my car at the end of a trip

I’ve seen a ton of folding hotplates out there, are they any good?

For 80% of campers, yes, they will work fine if you’re only going once or twice a year.

For the other 20% of campers who go more often or with more people, you probably already know that they kinda suck.

When I first started camping, I bought a fold out fire stand with four individual legs, a sheet metal hotplate and a mesh grill like this for about $35. After 12 months, the metal bar around the edges was warping so much in the fire, I would have to take it out and jump on it; just to straighten it between cooking the snags and the steaks. To make things worse, I could never get this thing to sit still properly because of the folding legs. Adding to that, as soon as any load went on, it was constantly in danger of falling over when moving the logs in the fire.

I later used some of the cheap Chinese ones that 4wd Supacentre and the like are flogging for around $50; and they seemed better. For one, the flat bar on the side fixed the sagging problem. The leg design was the big let down here as they couldn’t be pushed hard in to the dirt to be made stable; so they really only worked on level ground or the sand. And even then they are not fixed so they have a tendency to fall over.

My (original) solution

One day I decided to make my own version that would have rigid legs, enough strength to handle 2 proper bbq hotplates and not warp.

I ended up cutting up 2 star pickets and spent 25 minutes with a mate’s welder to make this thing. The result was about 50% stronger than anything I had seen before, but also about 50% uglier than a troll.

Anyway, I used this mole of a thing for about 4 years and it never skipped a beat, however after carrying a sharp, non-folding and very heavy setup around, I got fed up and went looking for an alternative.

Old dodgy plate (behind) sitting nice and flat, with Tigerz11 plate (front) about to fall over

Old dodgy plate (behind) sitting nice and flat, with Tigerz11 plate (front) about to fall over

The new solution

One day I stumbled across the hotplates they have on the back of the Conqueror camper trailers and fell instantly in love. Rigid legs, lightweight, lots of grill space and designed to take up a previously unused area (the spare wheel on the back).

What a design!

What a design!

A quick call to these guys turned out a price of $230 shipped to Perth – not much when you’re buying a $60k camper, but a fair investment for a hotplate!

A few months later; walking around the Perth 4wd and Adventure Show I noticed a very similar hotplate on display. This one looked even better, with slimline cast iron legs and a laser cut stainless steel top. On top of this, it was adjustable to suit 29 to 35 inch tyres, I asked the guy at the Opposite Lock stand how much (expecting 3 figures with a 2 or 3 up the front) and he came back with $149. 5 minutes later I was walking out the gate with a neat package containing one of these beauties.

frontrunner-spare-tire-bbq-review

Threw a snag on it and cracked a stub ASAP!

frontrunner-spare-tyre-bbq

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How did it go?

So far it has been bloody great and I have put it through its paces pretty well with about a combined 4-5 weeks of camping over the last few months.

It’s not too heavy but heavy enough to be sturdy. There is no issue with having a couple of camp ovens and a billy on it and frying straight on the stainless works a treat – just make sure you throw some oil down and season it before you throw anything on it.

hotplate-bbq-lamb-cooking

Re-fried lamb from the spit. Awesome!

For me; the best feature is no longer throwing a filthy, heavy, sharp and often hot plate inside my car. Just throw it behind the spare wheel (I don’t even have to take the bin bag off) and close it – no ropes, no tie down, just a firm grip on the tread.

frontrunner-spare-tyre-bbq

I know, my spare is a bit crap. I’ve replaced it since then

It even stores neatly with spare tyres stored under the boot!

It even stores neatly with spare tyres stored under the boot!

Now the part for people with an attention span to match my coordination, the very short version:

Pros:

  • Lightweight (compared to a steel/cast iron one).
  • Takes up no room in the car.
  • Keeps the dirt out of the car.
  • Very well made.
  • Well balanced and sturdy.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Cools down much faster than cast iron.

Cons:

  • Expensive compared to a folding cast iron plate
  • No lip to keep oil or rogue rolling snags on the hotplate.
  • Not quite as non-stick as cast iron (but it does work very well once oiled).

Closing thoughts

If you love cooking on a fire, do a decent amount of camping and have a tyre on the back of your car/camper trailer, this thing is the waterfowl’s testicles.

Just make sure you use a skillet on top if you are prone letting snags roll off.

MUG SHOT TIME!

harry-profile

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3 Comments

  1. Russ
    April 03, 23:21 Reply
    Russ (profesional chef Wales U.K) This looks like a brilliant solution, and yes ,I would love one, but I fear that the shipping charges to the U.K. maybe about the same as a small family hatchback! Great review, very entertaining.
    • Harry Fisher
      April 04, 08:10 Reply
      Cheers Russ, appreciate the kind words mate. Frontrunner is actually a South African company so they're closer to you than they are to me! You mighy be pleasantly suprised how easily and cheaply you could pick one up. Frontrunner are known for their roof racks and supply heaps of gear to UK based LandRover outfitters so you may well be able to get them to order one for you. Harry
  2. Anne
    April 27, 20:22 Reply
    Great idea! Our spare wheel is under the car so I don't think it would work.

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