Tailfin Top Tube Pack: Flipping Awesome
From fully-loaded world tourers to ultra-endurance bikepackers, roadies, commuters, and MTB riders alike, there is an ever-expanding desire to attach gear to bicycles these days. With this comes a flourishing landscape of bag makers, all eager to stand out amongst the rest. Tailfin is certainly one brand leading the way here, with its continuously innovative designs and praiseworthy attention to detail. Today we're checking out the latest addition to their range, the Top Tube Pack Flip. Will they flop around or fly off while jostling your way down a rocky arroyo? We'll see. Are they a worthy chariot for that $5 organic avocado? Also maybe. Are they any different from the plethora of other top tube bags out there? Let's take a closer look at how Tailfin has redefined a classic.
Brimming with innovation, these bags feature a unique "Mag-Lock" magnetic latch closure, fully welded, 3D-sculpted waterproof construction, and a dual attachment "V-Mount" system. Tailfin has concocted not just one but five flavours for your choosing. The flip top model comes in both 1.1 and 1.5L, or if you prefer a zipper your options are 0.8, 1.1, and 1.5L. Plenty of choices to suit any type of bike or adventure, whether it be a quick jaunt around town or a multi-month expedition through Central America. Tailfin even provides a handy flow chart to help you decide which size is best suited to your needs. I've been testing the 1.5L Flip model, so that's what we'll be digging into here.
Design & Construction
Sleek lines and angular design make for a technical aesthetic that is distinctly Tailfin. The 210D Hypalon and Diamond Ripstop are welded together, forming a semi-rigid sculpted shell that always maintains its shape, whether it's stuffed with candy or full of air. Do soggy sugar packets, wet matches, or corroded USB cables sound fun? I can assure you they are not, but luckily that's not a worry with this bag. I blasted this thing with a garden hose for a while without the slightest leak. The welded seams aren't only watertight, they will also likely outlast their traditional needle and thread counterparts. Thanks to a hooded porthole on the front panel, you can stash a power bank inside and keep all your bar-mounted gadgets juiced up in the middle of the desert. It also doubles as a breathing hole for an oh-so-fragile banana.
The neatest bit about this bag is definitely the flip lid and the “Mag-Lock" closure. Tailfin has done a bang-up job designing a latch mechanism that's as effortless to use as it is secure and aesthetically pleasing. It's elegant, practical, and will still be latchin' long after all your zippered bags are six feet under. As someone who is into slower-paced loungy riding, I love to snack lots in the saddle. There's not much worse than riding hungry, and I've loved loading this bag up with some trail mix or Takis and using it as a really convenient feedbag with a lid. An incredible amount of development effort and iterations have gone into making this closure, and it shows. It's flawless.
There is always more to see on the inside, and the first thing you'll notice is a padded "insole" covering the rigid plastic frame at the bottom of the bag. A super cushy rattle-free ride for some plums or other precious cargo like a camera lens. Flanking the inner left side panel is an elastic-mesh pouch, nicely partitioning that cavernous 1.5L into two compartments. A perfect spot for something small and slim like a knife, sunglasses, phone, or wallet.
A Versatile Attachment System
Perhaps equally as notable is the wonderfully reliable V-Mount attachment system. This rigid plastic base plate offers two options for mounting the bag to your frame, using either the included bolts or polyurethane straps. If you're on team bolts you get the luxury of four bolt holes for two different positions fore and aft. If you're strappin' then you use the rubber booties to help hold the bag from slipping around and ruining your frame's fabulous paint. There's also a third, longer strap included for frames that require strapping around the top and downtube together. In either case, the formed mounting interface makes for such a secure fit that there is no front stabilizing strap necessary. I ran with both options on two different bikes, and I have come away without a shadow of doubt whatsoever, on any terrain. Whether you're sending slabs, snaking your way through some singletrack, or cruising some FSRs with your buds, this bag is staying put. I've had velcro straps on other bags wear clean through from abrading against nylon webbing, resulting in almost losing a bag. Oops! Bolts or straps are absolutely what's up and Tailfin knows it, which is why they've designed the V-Mount to work perfectly with either. No floppin', no rattlin', no fuss.
Crits, Cost & Closing Thoughts
With heaps of praise, there must be some criticism, right? If you were hoping for me to rip these bags asunder you will be sorely disappointed, because it's mostly sunshine and rainbows with hardly a cloud in the sky. The only real trouble I've had is with the bag interfering with standover clearance while straddling the bike. The two bikes I tested on both have short reach and high standover, which makes things quite cramped when you've got the 1.5L bag taking up half the top tube. Despite this, I've never had any issues with my knees rubbing the bag thanks to the tapered design. Should I have opted for the 1.1L model? Probably.
As an esteemed fashion critic (I only ride in Crocs), I feel obligated to comment on aesthetics. I do feel the bag may be a little too sleek looking on vintage steel bikes, or when paired with other bags made of natural materials. The streamlined design language is more harmonious with modern bikes and components, and black is the new black, so go on and match it with any colour of the rainbow.
Prices range from $90 USD for the 0.8L Zip up to $110 for the 1.5L Flip. This price point is notably higher than many other readily available top tube bags. Still, I consider that wholly justified given how thoroughly refined and well-manufactured these Top Tube Packs are. The first batch has mostly sold out, but if you're keen you can still place an order on Tailfin's webshop for shipping early this summer.
All things considered, the bags offer such a fresh take on the concept of the humble top tube bag, solving many issues inherent to more traditional designs. No, they won't make the difference between the podium and a DNF on the Tour Divide, but they will most definitely ensure your sweets and sunnies arrive at camp dry and intact.
Check out Tailfin's deep dive into the lengthy development process and the promo video announcing the Top Tube Packs 👇
|Rigid, welded, waterproof construction|
|Dual attachment system (bolts or straps)|
|Mag-lock latch mechanism|
|Standover can be cramped with larger sizes|
|Sleek aesthetics will not match every bike|
|Pricey compared with other options|