Tailfin exploded onto the scene with their Kickstarter for the original T1 pannier rack. It’s probably the lightest and best-looking pannier rack available, and doesn’t look out-of-place even on a carbon fibre road bike. They recently introduced a new Kickstarter project called the Aeropack, which also smashed all of its goals within hours of going live. It’s popular, and I have a friend that signed up for both projects. He obviously loves it, but what’s all the fuss about?
The first fitting of the T1 rack takes very little time and there’s no fiddly adjustments, it just clips straight on. All you have to do is put the correct Tailfin adapter axle on and clip the rack to it. These axles have a small extension for the rack to sit on and the top of the rack is secured to the seat tube with a rubber strap and buckle.
Quite surprisingly the QR Tailfin axle weighed only 7g more than my genuine Dura Ace QR. In fact the entire rack with 2 empty SL bags (and the optional plastic mudguard) on it weighed just under 2kg. That’s quite amazing if you consider that a carbon Giant TCR only weighs 1kg or so less than an aluminium Allez.
The SL Pannier Bags involve a little more assembly because the bags are identical and you attach a backing plate that determines which side of the rack it will sit on. Everything is well labelled and took a matter of minutes to put together. The Panniers have a roll top with a clip on either side to secure them. They are 100% waterproof and each bag can carry up to 22 litres. They even have a pocket that will take a 17″ laptop.
There is a small mudguard that clips on to the T1 Rack and is secured with a silicone strap. It’s not going to stop you getting wet, but it will reduce the rooster tail. I had it on my TCR which doesn’t have room for proper mudguards, so I consider it a bonus.
The only downside to the Tailfin being so easy to fit is that both the bags and rack are also easy to take off the bike. Security screws are provided to prevent the rack being unclipped from the axles. It won’t stop your bags from being taken off though, these are better off going with you when you lock your bike up.
Riding about on errands on both my Allez and TCR was a breeze. There is no rattles (unless you put a metal lock in your bag next to your pump, but that’s your own stupid fault). The bags are fairly rigid due to the plastic reinforcing skeleton they are attached to so they don’t move about much either. Aside from the extra weight you can hardly notice the difference in riding with the Tailfin rack and panniers attached.
It was only taking my bike on some longer trips around the hillier parts of Sussex and Surrey that I realised something. I normally travel fairly light. Inner tube or two, a pump, maybe a multi-tool, a card and some cash, sometimes a jacket or gilet, and an emergency bar or gel. Because I could, I had now packed a few more luxuries as well as my regular kit. I had some extra tools, some extra layers and inner tubes, some lights just in case, and a small first aid kit. I’ll point out that I was on a large organised ride run by Viva Velo bike tours, so some of these items were taking inexperienced riders into account.
Luckily I didn’t use much of this extra stuff, but I did have a slight issue chasing a few fast friends back over Steyning Bostal on the way home. It was the extra weight. I had little need to carry all this extra stuff, on a proper trip over several days the extra weight would have been worth taking. If I was commuting, the laptop pocket would be invaluable. But a quick day trip to the beach didn’t need a pannier, it just tired me out faster. So I went back to the beach a few days later on my own. This time riding at a more leisurely pace with a book, some flip-flops, and a towel to sit on. This time the panniers made sense.
If you’re looking for a solution to get rid of that sweaty rucksack off your back. Maybe you want to take your bike on a multi-day trip; or to a festival or even cycle to a race and then take the Tailfin rack off to race; or to visit relatives and be able to change into ‘normal’ clothes when you get there. There are companies that make panniers fit to tight clearance aero or race bikes but they aren’t as effective as a full mudguard on a bike with proper eyelets. With panniers its a different matter. The Tailfin option is far better than a rickety, heavy aluminium rack that needs constant adjustment and can’t be taken off very quickly if you go for a ‘fast ride’. The Tailfin isn’t a make-do alternative, it’s actually a much better choice.
Compare prices and buy bags and rucksacks from:
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