Race Face Tailgate Pad
Manufacturer’s List of Features:
- Raised bumpers facing into the truck box seat most frames snugly, preventing bikes from coming into contact while en route.
- Additional raised square pads along the outer tailgate help hold forks in place.
- When the shuttle gets steep and rowdy, secure frames down with a velcro-backed webbing loop and strap system.
Exterior: 600D + PVC with DWR treatment
Interior: Micro-brushed inner lining
Sizes: Small/Medium 57″ Width (Tested) and Large/X-Large 61” Width
Vehicle: 2008 Toyota Tacoma
Test Duration: 70 days of bike transport
The once ubiquitous Dakine Tailgate Pad is starting to see some competition. Stalwarts in the rack market like Thule, Yakima, and Softride have entered the fray, with more-or-less direct knock-offs of the Dakine design.
Race Face, however, has added a few features to the generic tailgate pad, and these features are exactly why I chose to purchase and test it.
Having shuttled many days with the original Dakine Pad, I noticed that bikes frequently slide around on the smooth Hypalon exterior, and that the interior of the pad was not particularly soft and could cause some damage to the truck’s paint over long use on the tailgate.
The designers at Race Face must have agreed, since their design aims to address these issues.
The pad is connected to the tailgate with three nylon straps, each doubled through a plastic ring. It takes about five minutes to strap the pad down where it sits, which is comparable to the competition.
I was also pleased to see that the opening in the pad to access the handle for the tailgate actually lined up pretty well with my truck’s handle.
Officially, the S/M is recommended for the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier and other vehicles with compact cargo beds.
The L/XL is recommended for the Toyota Tundra, Ford F150, Dodge Ram and other vehicles with full size cargo beds.
The sizing of the Small/Medium is spot on for my 2008 Toyota Tacoma. It actually fits so well that for quick pavement trips, I will frequently just toss the pad on without strapping it down. Obviously, on longer drives, or if I am leaving the pad on long-term, I do strap it down.
The Race Face pad has raised bumpers facing into the bed, and these bumpers do a remarkable job of holding the bike in place. Beyond that, there are straps for each bike’s downtube.
Given how well the bumpers work, I only bother with the straps on long and rough shuttles with a lot of bikes loaded onto the pad. In my experience, ripping along well-maintained dirt roads does not require the straps.
There are five defined slots for bikes on the Small Tailgate Pad, and the bikes slide in with a bit of space between each rig. I had no issues with multiple bikes touching or rubbing one another.
It is a little early to make definitive assessments, but the interior micro-brushed lining is very soft, reminding me of a nice fleece jacket. After 70 days of use, I’ve found no abrasion damage to the tailgate’s paint.
Outer Material and Padding
The outer pad is constructed of 600D Cordura with a DWR treatment. While the Cordura does not wet-out, it does absorb a little water in a heavy rain. I would love to see a Hypalon version of this pad, especially for those that leave the pad on year-round or live in a wetter climate. I plan to experiment with a more robust DWR treatment on my pad (i.e. Thompson’s Water Seal), and will update once I see how well this works.
While highly cut-resistant, the material is not overly rough to the touch, and since the bike does not slide around, I had no concern for abrasion wear on the downtube of the bike or the fork. The pad felt adequately padded for my uses. It was tested with a 4.2lb Yeti ASR-C carbon frame, which is about as thin-walled of a downtube as is available.
I am pretty stoked on this pad, and much prefer it to the Dakine pads (and their clones) that I have used in the past.
The Race Face pad—and its bumpers—do an awesome job of holding the bike in place without needing to do anything more than just drape the bike onto the pad. When using other tailgate pads without straps, the bikes slide and bang around quite a bit more, which causes wear to the bike and the vehicle. Some other pads have straps, but the bikes can still rock around a little bit more than with the Raceface pad, and the straps are a bit more of a pain in the ass when loading than the Raceface pad’s bumper system.
Other than the slight wetting-out of the pad, I’ve found the Race Face Tailgate Pad to be superior to the competition.