Think of cycle touring and you’d be forgiven if images of fairly traditional-looking cycle tech come to mind. Level top tubes, leather saddles, panniers – these are all long-distance bike ride staples.
But just as road cycling and mountain biking – and, indeed, every other type of riding – constantly change, so too does cycle touring. Nowadays, with the right kit, any type of bike can be a coast-to-coast or even trans-continental exploring machine.
But what is ‘the right kit’? Of course, panniers are still a dependable option for carrying all your touring essentials, but those old favourites have been augmented with things like frame bags, top tube packs and seatpost-attached rear packs.
And when it comes to rear racks on which to hang your panniers, don’t think you need traditional mounting points – there is now an incredible range of options that will convert even lightweight compact carbon road frames into capable load luggers.
Leading the way in the charge to bring cycle touring – or even heavy commuting – to every kind of bike rider is technical bikepacking equipment brand Tailfin. As well as a fantastic range of bike-mounted bags, Tailfin has developed two key technologies that allow a vast range of non-traditional cycle touring bikes to carry luggage:
Available in either aluminium or carbon form – and given the full road.cc test here – the Rack System is Tailfin’s most versatile and practical rear system, suitable for everything from commuting to fast road touring and light off-road use.
Again, available in either aluminium or carbon form, and given the full road.cc test here – the AeroPack System is Tailfin’s lightweight answer to a rigid seatpack, and is perfect for off-road riding.
Both the Rack System and the AeroPack System are available in a choice of fitting options, either using traditional rear rack mounts, or mounting via the rear axle.
“Let’s look at the key differences between a Tailfin Rack and a Tailfin AeroPack,” Tailfin’s James Bracey explains.
“On the surface they look very similar, mainly as they both use the same main carbon or alloy ‘arch’ and the same connector for attaching to your seatpost. The crucial difference lies in how the arch is joined to the seatpost connector.
“The Rack uses a carbon or alloy ‘top stay’ to complete the structure, whereas the AeroPack does away with this additional stay and instead uses the top bag as an integral part of the system. The Rack approach allows the top bag to be removed rapidly, leaving the rack in situ on your bike. The AeroPack, however, has fewer parts and hence is the lightest option – but you have to take the whole AeroPack with you if you want to remove the bag from your bike.”
It all makes complete sense on paper, but to see the true magic of Tailfin’s technical bikepacking equipment, you really need to use it in real life. Which is why Tailfin will be visiting a range of sites across the country to allow potential new Tailfin users to have first-hand experience. Here, you’ll be able to see how Tailfin products could unleash a whole new level of potential in your existing bike, and you won’t even have to commit to purchasing anything.
So, when and where can you get a taste of the Tailfin experience? Here’s the full list:
South West Demo Day - Saturday 5th August
Pedal Progression, Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, BS8 3PX
North East Demo Day - Saturday 26th August
Backyard Bikeshop, Hillgate Quay, Gateshead, NE8 2BH
South East Demo Day – Date TBC
Mason Cycles, Old Stables, Applesham Farm, Coombes, Lancing, BN15 0RP
All you need to do is:
- Sign up on-line here and book in for an hour slot at your preferred venue. Registration is completely free.
- On the day, bring your own bike (there will also be the option to hire bikes at Bristol and West Sussex), pay a security deposit, and the Tailfin team will fit whichever Rack or AeroPack System you want to test. Test samples of panniers and top tube packs will also be available by request.
- Then, there will be specific waymarked or GPX-planned routes at each location, with both off- and on-road options.
- Finally, if testing the kit for free wasn’t enough, you might even end up keeping it if you get lucky in the competitions to win Tailfin products that will be run at each event.
“Each location has been chosen to be the ideal location to test the performance of our kit, from the waymarked trails of Ashton Court in Bristol to the quiet roads of the north-east. Both gravel/mountain bike and road routes will be available at each location, and when there aren’t waymarked routes, our recommended routes will be shared with all participants via GPX files,” says James.
“Please arrive 15 minutes before your chosen time slot so Tailfin staff can set you up. We ask all riders to kindly stick to the one-hour ride time allotted and please let us know what bike you will be riding so we can ensure compatibility, and that we have the correct adapters that might be needed.
“We will mainly be setting riders up with our rear Rack and AeroPack Systems, but we will also have additional products such as pannier bags and top tube packs available on request. We will also be displaying some of our products currently in development that you can expect to see in the future.”
For more information, visit Tailfin’s Demo Days webpage.