Mountain biking has experienced a surge in popularity as never before largely in part because of the restrictive COVID pandemic situation. Thankfully, there are many useful guidelines to help newcomers to the sport get up to speed with the latest cycling developments.
I, too, would like to contribute to the cause and make things easier for the uninitiated.
Traditionally, the primary way of transporting a bike has always been through a bike rack or trunk racks, usually mounted to the trailer hitch, trunk, or roof of a truck. Thankfully, modern inventions such as tailgate bike pads have made it easier to transport exorbitant mountain bikes in a much cheaper and safer way.
What is a tailgate bike pad and why should you get one as a bike owner?
Tailgate bike pads, as their name suggests, are thick, foam-filled pads that cover, fold over, or attach to the tailgate of your truck. They serve the role of a barrier between the truck and your bikes, protecting both from external damage during transportation.
To keep the bike secure, these tailgate pads usually come equipped with bike anchor straps. In higher-end models, you’ll even find bumpers that prevent the bikes from bumping into one another.
So, with the tailgate bike pad in tow, you can rest easy knowing that the paintwork, appearance, and structural integrity of both your bikes and pickup truck are well-maintained, irrespective of the road and weather conditions.
A tailgate pad is particularly ideal for serious riders who prefer shuttling their bikes for gravity runs as securing your bike onto a tailgate pad is as easy as they come—much easier than in a bike rack. Plus, tailgate pads, unlike most bike racks, are compatible even with full suspension modern mountain bikes with unique top tube designs.
In essence, irrespective of the size of the tire, frame, or design, a tailgate pad can accommodate all. Plus, tailgate pads are much more cost-effective than other options in the market.
- At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Tailgate Bike Pads
- Top 7 Best Tailgate Bike Pads – Our Reviews:
- Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Tailgate Pad
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Tailgate Bike Pads
If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the tailgate pads for bikes that most people buy).
- Fox Racing Tailgate Pad Top Pick
- EVOC Tailgate Pad Runner-up
- Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad Runner-up
Top 7 Best Tailgate Bike Pads – Our Reviews:
Bike manufacturers, with results from their frequent market studies, are well aware of the profits to be made from mass-producing tailgate pads. Thus, in a bid to meet the demands of the riders, they’ve flooded the market with a variety of tailgate pads.
For the uninitiated, making a pick from the seemingly endless bunch can be overwhelming, to say the least. Now, this is where I step in.
Here’s a list of some of the best tailgate pads made while taking into consideration every biker’s needs and budget.
1. Fox Racing Tailgate Pad
Strapped for cash but can’t do without a tailgate bike pad? If so, go for the Fox Racing Tailgate Pad as this product offers the best bang for your buck!
Though the Fox Tailgate Pad may not be laden with the flashiest features, it admirably serves its role as a tailgate pad.
Since the Fox Tailgate Pad uses the conventional feed-through buckle design with three nylon straps, installing this tailgate cover onto your pickup truck is as easy as a walk in the park. This pad should go on small and mid-sized pickups without any hiccup.
What about the security features it provides? Well, the coated padded material on the cover is water-resistant and can thus withstand harsh weather conditions with relative ease.
I’m also a big fan of the bike anchor straps on the cover as they are user-friendly beyond belief. You can easily adjust the straps to accommodate any type of frame size and shape.
Also, though the handle opening is rather small, it shouldn’t cause many problems as there is a Velcro patch to roll the flap open for easy access.
Make no mistake, the Fox Tailgate Pad isn’t the complete package by any means. It could do with a few improvements such as a separation bumper to keep the bikes more secure.
However, for its price point, it offers full value for money.
- Best tailgate pad in its price range
- Features an adjustable top-tube strap
- Water-resistant to withstand harsh weather conditions
- Simple design with a no-frills approach
- Easy to install
- Basic tailgate bike pad with no extra features
- Doesn´t have separation bumpers
- Some may find the tailgate handle flap too small for their liking
2. EVOC Tailgate Pad
None comes close to the EVOC Tailgate Pad when it comes to durability. Constructed of heavy-duty 600-weight Denier material with PU coating, you can fully expect the EVOC Tailgate Pad to withstand the wettest, muddiest, and harshest climates.
Of course, with such robustness and durability, expect this pad to be a touch heavier than other tailgate pads on the list. Turns out, you can’t have the cake and eat it too.
Available in two sizes for both the mid-size and full-size pickups, I am a huge fan of the molded separation blocks that work hand-in-hand with the down tube straps to offer a secure and firm hold.
However, keep in mind that the down tube straps aren´t attached to the tailgate bike pad. As a result, they could fall off during travels if you were to leave them open.
What I don´t like about the EVOC Pad is its small handle opening. In some cases, this small opening may not even line up perfectly with your tailgate handle.
I should also alert you that the installation/removal process of the EVOC Pad is quite different from your regular tailgate pad.
Unlike others, the EVOC pad deploys a metal hook system which requires you to hook the metal piece on the strap to the lower end of the pad. Some may find this process easy while others may not appreciate it.
Plus, the fact that this pad for mountain bikes has a bold visual may not strike everyone´s fancy.
- One of the most durable tailgate pads around
- Accommodates the bikes securely
- Can withstand any level of mud and moisture
- Has a bike capacity of 6 bikes
- Well-designed straps and separators
- Available in two sizes
- Easy to install
- The graphics on the pad may be too loud for some
- Small handle flap opening may not line up with all types of tailgate handles
- Can also block backing-up camera
3. Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad
The brand, Yakima, must be applauded for manufacturing a reliable tailgate pad in the form of Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad.
With this pad, you can expect a fairly straightforward loading of the bikes. Of course, this pad does a remarkable job of securing the bikes during travels as well.
Capable of securing five bikes at a time, the Yakima Tailgate Pad is largely constructed of burly coated nylon material, which means that the pad is extremely durable and resistant to all types of weather conditions.
As you purchase the Yakima Tailgate Pad, you are immediately drawn to its wide webbing straps. The extra width on the straps makes them easier to deal with as they don’t flop around needlessly like thinner ones.
I am also quite bonkers over its gigantic tailgate handle opening. Unlike in the EVOC Tailgate Pad, the handle opening on the Yakima should line up with your tailgate handle, irrespective of where it´s placed.
However, the large opening does leave the tailgate exposed.
In essence, the Yakima Tailgate Pad sticks to the basics without any sort of extra fancy frills. Sure, one wouldn´t be out of place to expect more out of a product that costs as much as the Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad, but if you are looking for a reliable tailgate pad that simply gets the job done, this pad is for you.
- The broad straps on the Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad make the installation process simple and easy
- Provides easy access to the tailgate handle
- Simple yet sleek design
- Easy to install
- Constructed of heavy-duty materials and nylon straps
- Best tailgate pad in terms of simplicity
- Can be too basic for some
- Priced a bit too exorbitantly for my liking
- The Yakima Gate Keeper Tailgate Pad would do better with proper stitching
4. Dakine DLX Pickup Pad
Looking for a reliable tailgate bike pad that is compatible with the biggest of pickup trucks and is capable of accommodating a large number of bikes? If so, look no further than the Dakine Pickup Pad.
The smaller version of this pad can carry five bikes at a time while the larger version can secure up to a whopping seven bikes simultaneously!
It also helps that the installation process of the Dakine Pickup Pad is as easy as whistling dixies. The loading process is just as simple; with no cradles and padded slots to complicate the loading process, you´d simply need to line the bikes up with a top-tube strap and then drop them into place.
Plus, you can expect the bikes to be safe and secure even during rides on bumpy trails.
I must also mention that the straps come secured to the tailgate bike pad, which means that you don´t have to worry about losing them as you drive through the highway at terrifying speed. For extra security, you are even provided with metal grommets on each side of the tailgate pad.
Primarily constructed of heavy-duty 1000 Denier fabric, you can fully expect the Dakine DLX Pickup Pad to stand the test of time. Of course, it is coated for protection against external elements such as harmful UV rays.
All in all, I must say that the Dakine DLX Pickup Pad is worth the investment.
- Constructed of highly durable, heavy-duty materials
- The tailgate flap can be kept open on account of its useful hook
- Metal grommets are offered for extra security, allowing you to lock the pad to the truck trunk
- Value for money
- Good strap system
- One of the best tailgate pads around
- Has a reflective logo that improves visibility in under-lit areas
- Quite basic compared to other tailgate pads in its price range
- Doesn’t come with bumpers or separation pads
- Some have complained that it covers back up cameras
5. Thule Gate Mate Pro
The Thule GateMate Pro is best suited for those with large and thick tailgates. Although nothing much to look at, the Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad excels in the functional department, providing a wide array of features.
For starters, it comes equipped with two useful storage pockets that can accommodate basic necessities such as a rag, chain lube, or a multi-tool. Hell, you could even use them to store your dirty laundry.
You´d also be pleased to know that the Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad comes with separation blocks on all sides of the pad, keeping your bikes secure, regardless of the road condition.
Another aspect of the Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad that I´m fond of is its functional tailgate handle opening. Not only is it of adequate size, but it also folds down, allowing your back up camera to function optimally without restrictions.
I also like the fact that this tailgate pad is low-profile and doesn´t come with an “in-your-face” brand logo.
Regrettably, like all products, this Thule tailgate pad also has its fair share of drawbacks.
For instance, I found the bike securing straps on the pad a bit too long. Also, the fact that the straps aren´t secured to the Thule tailgate pad also doesn´t help its cause.
Apart from these negligible complaints, I have nothing but love for the Thule GateMate Pro.
- The large version can secure 7 bikes at a time
- Storage pouches provided for the convenience of the truck owners
- Features separation blocks to prevent lateral movement
- Easy to install
- Easy access to the tailgate
- Nice strap system
- One of the best tailgate pads around
- This pad could´ve done with smaller top tube straps
- Priced a bit too exorbitantly for my liking
- May not fit your truck as well as you´d like
6. Demon Tailgate Pad
The Demon Tailgate Pad has a lot of things working in its favor.
For instance, it has nice pockets to store tools, has enough slots to secure 7 bikes at a time, bike frame Velcro straps to ensure the total security of the bikes as you drive through rough terrain, and reflective graphics to make sure you remain highly visible even in underlit, dark areas.
Moreover, since it is ¾ foam padding and has an ultra-soft micro brushed inner lining underside, you can fully rely on the pad to maintain the structural integrity and paintwork of both your bikes and truck. Oh, and did I mention that the Demon Bike Tailgate Pad also features web cinch straps to secure the pad to the truck?
How durable is the tailgate bicycle pad? Well, since it is constructed of premium heavy-duty vinyl cover, you can fully expect the Demon Tailgate Pad to outlast your interest in biking. Durability is excellent indeed as is craftsmanship.
I am also particularly fond of the pad´s access flap as it facilitates easy access to your tailgate handle. In a nutshell, this access flap eliminates the need for you to uninstall the pad just to open the tailgate.
The Demon Tailgate Pad for mountain bike works exactly as advertised, is easy to put on, take off, and clean. What more could you ask for from a tailgate bike pad?
- The heavy-duty vinyl cover does a remarkable job of protecting both the bikes and your truck
- Reflective logo ensures you remain highly visible even in underlit, dark areas
- The access flap facilitates easy access to your tailgate handle
- Can easily secure a wide range of bike types
- Constructed of high-quality materials
- Velcro cradle closure system to prevent the bikes from hitting each other
- Can obstruct the backing up cameras of trucks
- May not be compatible with some trucks
- The straps don´t work as smoothly as you´d prefer
7. Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad
Many claim that the Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad is the best tailgate bike pad money can buy. Now, I wouldn´t want to participate in a pissing contest with these people as they do have an element of truth in their claims.
The RaceFace Tailgate Pad does come equipped with all the features you´d expect in a high-quality tailgate bike pad.
First and foremost, let´s discuss its durability.
Constructed of burly PVC tarpaulin material, this pad can handle it all. Come sun, rain, mud, or grime, the RaceFace Tailgate Pad will withstand even the harshest of weather conditions.
How functional is the RaceFace Tailgate Pad, you ask? Well, it has an adjustable tailgate window that provides users easy access to their tailgate handle while ensuring the coverage of the backup camera isn´t compromised.
It is also worth noting that the pad comes equipped with 6 straps to make sure tailgates of all shapes and sizes are properly accommodated. Additionally, you should also know that the interior of the pad comes with raised bumpers to cradle your frame.
Meanwhile, the exterior part has large padding to maintain your fork stanchions. Also, with large grommets keeping the pad fully secured to your trunk, the Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad leaves you very little to complain about.
- The flap can be adjusted to facilitate easy tailgate handle access and optimize the coverage of the back-up camera
- High-quality large grommets keep the pad fully secured to your trunk
- Constructed of durable, burly PVC tarpaulin material
- Features a good strap management system that holds your bikes in place
- The RaceFace Pads come in two sizes to be functional for both mid-size and full-size pickups
- Priced a bit too exorbitantly for my liking
- May not fit newer truck models properly
- Could use another attachment point
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Tailgate Pad
Attachment and Size
Ideally speaking, you should go for a truck tailgate bike pad with an easy attachment system.
In most cases, you´ll find that a pad attaches to your truck´s tailgate with nylon material webbed straps. Some pads have hooks to make the attachment and detachment process easier, while others use thick, wider webbed straps for the user´s convenience.
Before you splurge on a pad, try it on your truck first to see it fits as effortlessly as you´d want it to fit.
Of course, a truck tailgate bike pad must come with secure straps to keep the bikes in place during rides on rough terrain.
More often than not, a tailgate bike pad comes equipped with loop straps to keep the bikes secure. Search for a pad that has straps fixed on them as this prevents the straps from getting lost when they are left open and not in use.
Go for a truck tailgate bike pad that either features separation pads or molded bumpers with high-density foam padding.
These features prevent the bikes from wobbling around during transportation. They also prevent the bikes from coming into direct contact with each other.
Also, only pay attention to those pads that have padding to protect the paint job and structural integrity of your pickup truck.
A tailgate bike pad must have a flap that is big enough to provide you access to your truck´s tailgate. Also, the flap must line up or be aligned to your truck´s tailgate.
Additionally, the flap mustn´t obstruct or restrict the coverage of your backup camera.
For a tailgate bike pad to be deemed safe for usage, it must come with a soft lining material on the underside to protect the paint job on your tailgate.
Ideally speaking, go for pads that have rubberized coatings such as vinyl and polyurethane as they are known to be the best at withstanding harsh weather conditions. Also, understand that the best tailgate pads are usually lined with fleece to facilitate a high degree of abrasion resistance.
The benefits of installing tailgate bike pads run aplenty.
I would regard them as a much safer alternative to a bike rack. Unlike racks, tailgate bike pads are far more compatible with modern bikes that are longer and bigger than your average bike.
Plus, tailgate pads are much easier to install as you wouldn’t need to drill holes or screw them in. Plus, the fact that they are much cheaper really speaks to me in ways that only the budget-conscious would be aware of.
In short, if you have a truck, there´s no better way of transporting your mountain bike than on a tailgate pad.
Now that you are well aware of the advantages of using a tailgate pad for mountain bikes, it is time to make your choice. You can go for any option listed above as they are all excellent choices in their own right.
If you are still undecided and would rather pick have me point you in a specific direction, I would recommend the Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad.
Constructed of burly PVC tarpaulin outer material, this pad can handle it all.
It possesses a flap that can be adjusted to facilitate easy tailgate handle access and optimize the coverage of the back-up camera. Additionally, it comes with inner lining down-tube bumpers and an outer stanchion bumper to protect your valuables.
Though its high price point may discourage many from making its purchase, I can say with confidence that the T2 pad offers full value for money. This pad also has one of the most positive tailgate pads reviews online.
However, be advised that the pad that works for me may not be suitable for your needs. It may not even be compatible with your trunk.
So, I´d suggest you do a little homework before you splash the cash.