Today’s ride was the first real chance to test my new Tailfin Pannier System. I had fitted it for the short “Get the car ride” last week but today loaded a single bag with the items I commute with (toolset, wet weather gear and ‘lunch’) for an 87km mixed ride
B’s Tailfin recommendation
A friend had supported the Tailfin Kickstarter and mentioned it at the time but I didn't think I needed it. She recently used it on a short tour and seeing that got me thinking about it again. I have a seat post beam rack pannier system I use with my hard tail MTB. While it fits on my CX bike (which has no rack mounts) it always felt ‘wrong’ putting a heavy rack on and adding load through the alloy seat post of a carbon frame bike. B again recommended the Tailfin and I decided to order one as a “Happy Birthday to me” present.
Getting it, and a referral surprise (Update 2021 I understand the referral scheme has now finished)
I ordered my Tailfin on a weekend and it took about ten days to arrive (from UK to New Zealand, via Belgium!). During that time I was looking at the site and noticed they had a referral scheme, which B had not mentioned. It requires the referrer to email Tailfin cc’ing the referral in the message before ordering. I emailed Tailfin explaining that I had been referred, but my order had been processed and shipped but it would be great if they could credit the referrer. Not only did they credit B, as I hoped, but also refunded the referral discount portion of my order which I didn't expect!
If an F1 Team made a bike pannier system…
The Tailfin is a light carbon ‘wishbone’ which mounts, with quick release clips, to a supplied extended rear axle. A stabilising bar loops around the seat post and two waterproof pannier bags quick release lock to pegs on the arch. It makes for a light, elegant and (even on gravel as I found) rattle free bag system. It is beautifully designed/engineered and can be removed from the bike in a few seconds leaving the extended axle stubs as the only evidence it was there. Tailfin do supply security screws to make that removal a less likely if you leave the bike but it is so light and easy to remove I’ll probably just take it with me.
My Commuter & FBP gear solution.
I’ll use the Tailfin for commuting regularly as don't like riding with a back pack. For weekend ‘Flash-Bike-Packing’ – overnight rides but staying in accommodation, eating in cafes or wherever – I suspect one bag will be more than enough but got the T1+SL Super Light two bag package just in case. Tailfin currently have an AeroPack top bag pre-order on offer but I don't think I’ll need it, can add later if I do.
One Problem, I’m short, not enough seat post for all the accessories!
The Tailfin seat post mount fits on my seat post but leaves insufficient space for my Cycliq camera/light which also has a seat post mount. I do have a pannier mount for the Cycliq but it doesn't fit the Tailfin. Due to its weight and need for stability the Cycliq does not have a clip mount to use on the Tailfin Bag light slots.
If running one bag the seat post mount fits on the Tailfin wishbone but I’ll have to make a mount to use if need two bags. I have the software and access to 3D printing/machining but it will be a challenge to match the elegance of the Tailfin design and engineering!
Today's Test Ride | Why I love a CX bike, even in the city
I put a typical commute/day trip load (Wet weather gear, tools/tube, cash, sunscreen) in the bag and a couple of water bottles to bump up the weight a bit. This ride (see Strava) is a 87km mix of country seal/gravel, suburban and city road & bike path riding with a little bit of single track towards the end to see how that went.
From home I headed up into the Waitakere Ranges, didn't really notice the pannier on the climb other than it was stable when cranking up the steeper parts of the climb. I suspect the rigidity and lower centre of gravity, compared to the beam rack, helped with that.
On a short section of gravel shared path road the biggest impression was silence: No rattles! On a fairly rapid – 50-60km/h – road descent I took the opportunity to slalom a bit to see how the bike handled. There certainly is a difference but it was easy to adjust too and soon became very natural.
In short the Tailfin was brilliant and I can see it staying on my bike, even for day rides. Although expensive it is good value as you can see the quality of design and manufacturing. Besides, it makes my favourite ‘go anywhere bike’ perfect and that, is priceless!