The Tailfin AeroPack is about the neatest solution for adding some storage space to pretty much any bike. It'll appeal to a wide range of riders: bikepackers, ultraracers, credit-card tourers, audaxers, and anyone with a posh bike that they want to carry stuff on. Yes, it's expensive. And no, it's not as versatile as some other setups. But it does the job it's designed to do extremely well, and it's a lovely thing that's a joy to use. It's up to you to decide whether it will meet your needs, and whether the outlay is worth it.
Tailfin's main claim for the AeroPack is that it's 'The fastest way to carry gear – on any bike'. Partly that's an aerodynamic claim. The AeroPack design means that the bag is tucked away in the dirty air behind the rider, and the parabolic carbon arch that supports it is designed to cut cleanly through the air too. So it's more aero than a pannier sitting on a standard rack, and similar to a standard fabric seatpack.
Does that matter to you? In all probability, the answer is: not really. If you're planning to ride an ultradistance event stretching into multiple days and thousands of kilometres, then even small aero gains can add up to hours less in the saddle; that's why you'll always see racers fitting aero extensions to their handlebars. In the rarefied air of cross-continent competition I can certainly see the appeal, and the AeroPack has form: TCR rider Ben Davies won the men's race this year, bested only by Fiona Kolbinger who took the overall crown.
Tailfin isn't going to make its millions selling them just to ultraracers, though, the appeal has to be wider than that. And, thankfully for Tailfin, it is. Because this is a lovely and useful thing.
There are not many bags of any size you'd want to attach to your posh road bike. For a start, your posh road bike maybe doesn't have rack mounts, so a rack is out. Even if it does, it's a pain to be taking a rack on and off if you do want a bit of luggage space. You might be tempted by a bikepacking-style seatpack, but they have their issues: they tend to swing about as they have very little structure, and they require careful packing to minimise that. Also, they don't really hold that much stuff.
The Aeropack scores on all counts here. There's the carbon arch keeping everything steady laterally, and inside the bag there's a lightweight alloy frame to give the whole thing structure.
You can keep it as bare (well, painted) metal if you're all about the weight savings, and Tailfin includes some rubber covers to slot over the top (which weigh a whole 40g) if there's anything in your bag that might get scratched.
Because it's a structurally rigid unit, it doesn't really matter how you pack it. The waterproof bag has a roll-top closure, so you just open it up, bung your gear in and roll it shut. Unlike a seatpack it's easy to root around for something without pulling everything out, and there's a side-entry zip so you can dive in and get stuff without undoing the roll-top, which is handy if it's raining. There's a small side pocket on the other side that's useful for things you might need in a hurry.
The capacity is 20 litres, which is more generous than any seatpack I've tried, and the AeroPack also comes with two external straps so you can lash stuff onto the top of it, increasing the amount you can carry. That's your lot, though: if you're regularly going to exceed that capacity then it's probably not for you. Tailfin offers racks that will take a top trunk combined with panniers if you need more space than this system offers.
When you're riding, the AeroPack sits there anonymously. It's entirely rattle-free and impressively stiff. There's no lateral movement at all when you're out of the saddle, and most of the time you forget it's there at all. In terms of the experience of using it as luggage, it's easily better than a seatpack or a pannier on a standard rack. I even prefer it to my Carradice Barley, and I love my Carradice Barley.
Once you get to your hotel/hostel/bus shelter/hedge for the night you might not want to leave all your gear with your bike, and you certainly don't want to empty it all out and carry it wherever you're going. You can't remove the bag from the arch: it's a single unit, and the bag is part of the structure. But you can remove the whole thing from your bike, arch and all, and that takes – hang on, let me check – seven seconds.
This, really, is the best thing about the AeroPack. And, more generally, all of Tailfin's bag systems. The AeroPack attaches at the seatpost with a quick-release clamp that's carbon-friendly and will accommodate any seatpost, including aero ones.
At the bottom of the arch are two hinged clamps that locate either on a proprietary quick release or thru-axle, or, if you prefer, onto pins that screw into your rack mounts if you have them; that's how I mostly used the AeroPack.
To take the bag off, just unclip the seatpost clamp, pull the pins on the two thru-axle clamps and pull the whole thing off. Putting it back on takes a bit longer, but it's still seconds.
It's worth noting two things about the design at this point. The arch is a certain height, and to get the bag to sit horizontally on the bike the clamp needs to attach to the seatpost at a certain height too. Depending on your bike, and the amount of seatpost you're running, that might not be possible.
Also, the standard clamp tucks the bag right under the saddle, which is probably good for aerodynamics but less so for usability, as it makes the roll-top harder to close. If you have a small bike with only a small amount of seatpost showing, you might not be able to squeeze it in at all. Tailfin offers a longer clamp mount (£10), which for most people will work much better. It makes the bag easier to use even if the space isn't an issue.
The AeroPack is extremely versatile in terms of what it'll fit to, though. You can run a tyre up to 29x3in in the arch, and you can also fit it to your mountain bike so long as the tyres aren't bigger than 27.5x3.5in or 26x4in. It'll even work with a full-suspension bike because the bag pivots at the clamp and the arch. I've run the AeroPack on two bikes with full mudguards with no issues, too. Assuming you already have mounts on all your bikes, swapping it between them is as trivial as it gets.
The AeroPack as I've mostly been using it here (with the rack mount pegs) will cost you £279, plus a tenner for the extra-long clamp mount. An axle-mounted setup is £299. If you want you can forgo the axle clamps entirely and just bolt it to your frame; it's £239 that way, but it does negate one of the nicest things about the AeroPack, the ease of removal.
Like Jez said in his review of the original Tailfin rack, you probably wouldn't consider a £300 spend on a wheel upgrade as especially profligate. So is splunking a similar amount on a really nice bag, which works really well, an investment or an unnecessary extravagance? That's for you to decide, really.
It's a lot of money spent on a nice thing. If it was my money I'd probably go for the alloy version, which is about £70 cheaper but functionally the same. It's a bit heavier and not quite as made of carbon, but for my day-to-day use I'd not feel the extra hundred grams or miss the nice finish.
Really well-executed seatpack that's simple, stable and can be fitted and removed in seconds
If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
road.cc test report
Make and model: Tailfin AeroPack S
Size tested: Rack point mount
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The fastest way to carry gear – on any bike
This is it: the ultimate minimalist rigid seat pack system. Aimed at the performance cyclist who wants to go fast either on or off-road, it is an integrated top bag with no side pannier mounts.
Like a seat pack, but better
Seat packs are great. The AeroPack is awesome. We take everything that you love about seat packs and pannier bags and combine them to create the ultimate way to carry your gear.
Aero matters most
Don't let your gear slow you down. The AeroPack is designed for aero advantage, and the stiff, rigid frame keeps your ride smooth and free from tailwag.
The rigid parabolic carbon arch connects solidly to the AeroPack bag with 6061-T6 aluminium pivot system.
The pinnacle of ultra distance racing is the Transcontinental Race. Used in both TCRNo6 and TCRNo7, the AeroPack has seen some serious miles and excelled in arduous real-world testing.
Secure seatpost connection
The seatpost connector is kind to carbon and designed to wrap around any size seatpost from 25mm through to a 3' deep aero. So no matter what bike you ride, you can securely attach and quickly release the AeroPack.
Access your gear on the go
The AeroPack makes it easy to access your gear on the bike thanks to a roll-top opening and direct access pocket.
Fits any bike
The Tailfin Axle Mount System means you can fit and remove the AeroPack in seconds.
Easy packing means faster
The wide mouth, top opening design means you spend less time packing your gear. The time you spend moving is as important as the time you spend stopped.
Clearance for wider tyres
The AeroPack X rack will fit nearly all tyre sizes:
26" – Up to 4"/100mm
27.5" – Up to 3.5"/85mm
29" – Up to 3"/75mm
Stiffer is Faster
The AeroPack is rigid and light, meaning no tailwag and a smooth, stable ride. It's almost like you weren't carrying any gear at all.
Tailfin Axle Mounting System (TAMS)
Replace your axle with a Tailfin axle to mount the Tailfin rack. Most bicycles use a quick-release axle, however, we also support the new Thru Axle standards (e.g. 12x142, 12x148, E-Thru, Syntace X-12, etc)
Direct access pocket
One of the challenges with any roll top bag is the speed with which you can enter the main body of the bag. The direct access pocket allows you to get in to the main body of the bag without opening the roll top.
High performance laminate and high frequency welded seams make the AeroPack completely waterproof.
It's now possible to attach our racks directly to frames with eyelets. The quick-release rack dropouts are modular so you can choose to use them, or not.
A zipped pocket keep a few essentials handy.
A lovely thing.
It's better than the alternatives.
No issues during testing, even with some accidental bike topples.
Better than a rack and pannier, not quite as light as a lightweight seatpack.
It's pretty spendy, especially this carbon one. There's not really a direct competitor in the market, though.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Really well. It's an excellent way of adding luggage capacity to any bike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Stylish, practical, light, aerodynamic.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
There isn't really anything similar. Obviously it's a lot more than a standard pannier setup or a seatpack, but they're not the same thing.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's almost a 9; the performance warrants it but the fact that the alloy version offers the same functionality for a lot less money just takes the shine off a bit. Forced to choose, I'd go alloy.
About the tester
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.