instagram icon
open nav

Tailfin Fork Packs Review: Click Click Go

Over recent weeks, Tyler has been putting Tailfin's new Fork Packs to the test in Northern Alberta. Featuring a cageless attachment system, these packs promise quick adaptability and rugged performance. Click in.

Tailfin Fork Packs Review: Click Click Go

For me, as far as fork-mounted bags and panniers are concerned, there are only the extreme ends of the spectrum. As a dad and a solo adventurer, I am either looking for a heavy-duty kit with a large volume to accommodate carrying a family’s worth of gear, or I am looking to move as fast and light as possible on solo adventures, as I try to get from point A to B as quickly as I can. Over the years, I have tried a number of what I thought would be fast and light solutions, and although there have been many that have come close, I have always found that having a cage permanently attached to my forks to be somewhat of an inconvenience. Whether it be that I can’t slide my forks into a bike rack at a resupply or coffee shop, or that I have to take the cages off once I am picked up by my support crew, aka my wife and kids, in order to fit the front tire into our specific bike carrier. Either way, I found myself, initially, doing the remove-reattach dance until I eventually just stopped using fork-mounted packs altogether. With the new Tailfin Fork Packs, it would seem that my troubled days of minor inconveniences just might be over.

I had been eying the Tailfin Fork Packs since their release with the hopes of solving all my front fork storage woes. So when I was asked to do a review on both the five and ten liter packs I jumped. My initial thoughts were that of bliss as I felt I might have finally finally found the solution to my fork bag woes, time would tell as I put the bags through their paces.

The Tale of Tailfin

Tailfin is a company that’s been around since 2016, making innovative products to help folks travel lighter and therefore faster on their bikes. By using materials like carbon and high quality lightweight aluminum, they have been able to produce technical products that can suit the needs of any riding style. From full suspension singletrack adventures to high performance carbon road bike touring they have built a product that caters to all the riding styles. One aspect of Tailfin that has been a constant inspiration to me has been how their research and development department has been able to deliver products to the consumer that simply make life easier. For me that’s a huge deal as one less thing to manage along the way means I can focus on all the other things that need my attention, like keeping my kids fed and drivetrains running smoothly, among other things.

Installation & Fit

Upon arrival I was able to inspect the bags as well as the hardware required to install the base to the fork. I was pleasantly surprised that the mounts consisted of only one small lightweight cross shaped aluminum mount and a few lightweight bolts. The system that Tailfin is using for these bags is their X-mount system. This system is similar to their pannier system in function although they boast a 10mm clamp system vs a 16mm on the panier system. Although smaller, I found this size to be adequate and strong. What I really loved about the bags themselves is the lightweight aluminum frame that backed the bags and attached to the X-clamp mounts to the bags themselves.

Installation was a breeze and is easily done with the provided T25 bolts. I quickly attached both sets of mounts, one to my Surly Bridge Club and another to my Salsa Cutthroat. I then reached for some kit to stuff both the five and ten liter bags with. My initial thoughts were that the ten liter bags would be great for the family trips on the Bridge Club and that the smaller five liter bags would fit in great with my minimalist Cutthoat setup. I would soon find out that my initial plan wouldn’t work, at least not on the Surly. This would turn out to be more of a bike problem than a Tailfin problem. You see my Bridge Club as well as many other Surly models have the braze-ons set back on the fork, for what reason I am not sure, although there must be a logical explanation? This led to both the ten and five liter bags coming into contact with the wheel and brakes. It was so extreme that I was unable to even clip the bottom of the bag into the mount itself, a huge inconvenience, right out of the gate. But again I see this as more of a bike problem than a problem with the fork packs themselves. I am looking forward to a work around and I have already been digging through the drawers to find something that can modify the placement of the bags. I know it’s possible, I just need to make it happen.

As for the Cutthroat the bags not only thrive and fit perfectly but they also look great. Adding to the slimmed down and aero look of a drop bar carbon gravel bike. After a couple of test rides I made the conclusive decision that both the five and ten liter options will suit any situation needed and that the Tailfin X mounts will most likely find a permanent home on the forks of my Cutthroat.

Design and Construction

Initial look and feel of a product usually leave a lasting impression and drive that impulse to purchase and utilize a product. It's one thing to see images of a product you think is awesome online but it's another to hold the product in your hand and make the decision to pull the trigger and spend your money on it. With the Tailfin Fork Packs it was no different. My first impression, once I got the bags in my hands, was one of excitement. I would say it went as far as me scheming on how I was going to revamp my entire setup, across all my bikes. The welded seams of the bags themselves and the lightweight high quality aluminum mounts and backing are impressive. It really speaks volumes to the level of research and development that Tailfin puts into their products and as someone who has no other Tailfin bags, it makes me want to invest into the Tailfin ecosystem myself.

The design is elegant and simple from the minimalist bags themselves to the distinctly audible “click” that the x camo system makes when engaged. Another thoughtful feature is the internal aluminum backing, think internal hiking pack frame, that adds a defined structure to the bags giving them shape and allowing them to be stuffed without the bag flopping around like a traditional stuff sack. This makes the bags easy to work in every situation. Another feature of the design is exterior attachment points that allows you to close the bags from the bottom allowing for an even cleaner look that the bags already have. The provided straps also allow you to attach other items to the bags although I opted for the clean minimalist option. But it's always nice to know that the option is there if a person needs it.

Usage and Performance

When it comes to adding something new to my bikepacking setup I’ll have to admit, at this point I’m becoming somewhat of an old dog. In the early days of bikepacking I was happy to have an old stuff sack zip tied to my handlebars and some old bottle cages electrical taped to my forks. But as I’ve done more and more trips and have been lucky enough to test out a variety of kit I find myself turning my nose up at many products that have been deemed innovative or “game changing”. Again, mostly due to me being stuck in my ways upon becoming comfortable with what I’ve gotten used to. With these new Tailfin Fork Packs I knew almost instantly that they would find a permanent home on multiple pairs of forks in the quiver. I went as far as thinking that they might even make me rethink the way I pack the bike, from tip to tail.

With it being January in Northern Alberta and with all things being heavily considered, I knew I couldn't just sit and daydream until spring about the potential of the bags. So I waited for the first warmish day of January to head out and put the bags through their paces. A proper testing, I thought to myself. The route I chose was one I frequent during the summer months that is an active log haul road. Not only does the 50km out and back take you out of town quickly but it encompasses almost everything for a good shakedown ride; Rough chunk, a fair amount of climbing, and a continuous supply of wet washboard riddled gravel. It’ll be perfect, I thought, and it was.

Being that my focus was on a fast and light setup for the Cutty I opted to take the 5 liter bags along. On the drive side I packed a cook kit, fuel, coffee press and the coffee. On the left side I packed an extra jacket, my bushcraft knife, some chocolate and my book. I was ready to get dirty and then find a nice spot to make a coffee, read and enjoy some sweets. There was ample room for all these items and I definitely could have packed more if I needed.

For the duration of the ride I felt like the packs were an extension of the forks, on rough terrain and while moving fast on the downhill sections the packs didn't sway, shake or create instability with the ride. I can say honestly that my front end had never felt so tight with bags mounted. Once I arrived at my coffee stop destination it was a treat to be able to remove the bags from the bike in seconds, rather than fiddling with soaking wet dirty ski straps. In regards to the bag's ability to hold up to the elements there were no issues there. They spent the ride getting soaked with mud induced slush and came away unscathed. I went as far as to hose them down, with all the contents still inside, once I arrived home. They cleaned up nicely and all items inside stayed dry. After settling in for a post ride barley sandwich It was clear in my mind that the bags had passed the test. I was excited that things had gone so well during the ride and that all my assumptions had been confirmed.

Final Thoughts

Maybe it was sheer coincidence that the first piece of gear that I was privileged to review for Bike Gear Database was a product that has been piquing my interest for some time now. From afar the Tailfin Fork Packs appeared to be a solution to my problem of cumbersome fork mounted cages, so it was great to get the opportunity to confirm my curiosities.

After taking the time to enjoy and put them through their paces I can confirm that, for me, these packs are indeed a game changer. Their design and functionality addresses and solves issues with similar more traditional products giving me the impression that Tailfin took the time to address the needs of cyclists, and to me that’s huge. As a guy who swore off the more traditional fork mounted cage style bags I am happy to know that Tailfin has created a more user friendly product. The fact that I can keep the mounts attached to my forks indefinitely makes me a happy guy and at this point I don’t see myself going without the Tailfin Fork Packs. It’s been great fun putting the bags through their paces and I look forward to seeing what they are capable of on future adventures.

✓ Pros
Clever X-Clamp design allows for quick attachment and removal.
Fully waterproof.
Replaceable hardware in the case of damage.
Solid internal frame makes the bag easy to pack and hold a variety of contents.
Sleek design looks good on the bike .
✕ Cons
Compatibility issues with some forks and tire clearance.
More moving parts than traditional cages could lead to potential problems on the trail.
Visit Tailfin
Visit Tailfin