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Arkel Tail Rider



Well made all weather trunk bag that's easy to use and fit on your bike

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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This trunk pannier bag from Arkel is possibly made by rugged men in checked shirts who used to fell wood by day and fight bears in their spare time but are now putting all their efforts into constructing super tough bicycle luggage from a log cabin somewhere in Canada. Possibly (would such men call it a Tail Rider? - ed… hmm possibly I suppose).

What I am trying to say is that the Canadian outfit Arkel make bags that are in no way wimpy and I'm not talking hamburgers here, I mean what you get is something tough and durable. Built using super strong materials like Cordura nylon which is so tough they supply a sample with a cut already in it and challenge you to tear it further and needless to say it is near impossible for mere mortals, this bag isn’t designed for an easy ride, it is designed to take the punishment of persistent bad weather and work a full day, everyday. This is probably why the Edinburgh Bike Co. are the people bringing this brand to the UK, to survive the Scottish weather!

The padded, insulated trunk unzips so the whole lid can be opened up making it very easy to pack in your effects. A padded separator is provided that can be velcro’d in place to stop loose items jossling about. The trunk bellows out to give you an 11 litres capacity which is enough to stuff a change of clothes in or your lunch or you camera, it can even swallow up a helmet, with it expanded it is about the size of a small backpack. Two compression straps keep the contents snug in the trunk and help minimize the overall size, this really help when travelling over uneven rad surfaces and keep the trunk well behaved. Zippered side pockets on each side are handy for small accessible items such as keys and loose change and are big enough too. All the zips on this bag are sealed, which help keep this product weatherproof but for those times that the skies relentlessly cascade a torrent of water down onto you their is a bright yellow waterproof cover that you can un-stuff from its little pocket in the rear and further protect the trunk from the elements, a bit like a shower cap protecting an 80s corkscrew perm.

The trunk is secured to your rack with four reflective velcro straps, although this has held the bag securely to my Topeak rack, I would prefer to see some sort of buckle fastener for extra security. After repeated use over many months, the hook and loop system will no doubt get a bit tired and won't grip too well. The hoop and loop fastening system continues to grip well over the months the bag has been tested but this trunk should last years and I have reservations about the velcro working that long. My worry is that as the months turn in to years, the hook and loop system will get a bit tired and won't grip so well

The bag can be carried around by a very comfortable padded handle when off the bike or you can clip on a shoulder strap and have it swinging around your neck for that American tourist look.


A well made all weather bike boot about the size of a small backpack. Ideal for carrying a change of clothes for work or you lunch or your camera and other bits. test report

Make and model: Arkel Tail Rider

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

"A sleek trunk bag that doesn't look like a shoe box" is what Arkel say about it and that is a fair description. It is a tough weatherproof trunk that is easy to use and fit on to your bike rack.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Weight: 0,5 kg / 1,1 lbs (unit)

Volume: 11 l. / 700 cu. in. (unit)

Velcro straps to hold it on.

Reflective straps and LED clip.

Expandable main compartment.

Compression straps.

Padded divider.

Detachable shoulder strap and padded carry handle.

Zip side pockets and hidden inner pocket.

Rubberized bottom

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Built tough

Rate the product for performance:

I would prefer to see a method of attachment to secure the bag on the rack rather than just velcro. Pretty water proof even without the cover on.

Rate the product for durability:

Super strong materials and zips should keep the bag functioning for many years

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:

Not really an issue here.

Rate the product for value:

Despite it being durable and tough it is still pretty expensive because it is size, bigger bags only cost a tiny bit more because the material aren't the costly bit it is making the thing.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

The rubberized bottom made it stay put and the padded carrying handle made it comfortable to carry around. It was quite surprising to see how much kit you can stuff into its expandable

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The fact the lid opens to expose the entire contents of the trunk. This makes it easy to stuff you clobber into and find things easily.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The velcro straps that hold the trunk onto the rack. I don't feel they are substantial enough to last the test of time. That said, they've last fine up until now

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Possibly

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 180  Weight: 80

I usually ride: Bike that I am testing at the time  My best bike is: Giant CFR pro. Old school carbon converted to fixed. Kinesis Convert 2.

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back

Add new comment


Serge McKig | 13 years ago

TR thought that he was (kinda) joking, but unbeknownst to him, he wasn't. The Arkel bags are made by woodsmen in plaid flannel shirts. In Canada. If you ever go visit them one day and see how Kevin or Paul dress up, you will doubt no more.

As for the strange name of this bag - the Tail Rider - it didn't come from a lumberjack's deep slumber's dream. The Tail Rider was one of the last few bags I designed before I sold the company to Paul - and it was named by my wife who's from California. She thought it was funny. Strangely, I kind of agree....

Finally about the velcro attachment: I so wanted something... eeerrr... better, but cost was always in the way of the other concepts. Velcro, on the other hand, is cheap. You win some, you lose some.

I still have the very first prototype I made on my weekend bike. It's more streamlined than the actual version. Very neat.

Serge Vigeant

John_the_Monkey | 13 years ago

It's VERY hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about these though. They're very much beloved by randoneurs &c

Glad to see them coming to the UK, and may have to start saving up (alhough my Carradice saddle bag is fine).

cat1commuter | 13 years ago

I have just bought my second Tail Rider, having worn out the first. The hook and loop straps did become too tired to retain the bag, but the zips were wearing out too. It survived nearly four years of daily, year-round Cambridgeshire commuting (approx 32,000 km).

Perfect size for a few clothes and a packed lunch for commuting or day rides. Lots of pockets and pouches for organising bits and pieces. Is more aero than a pannier, being tucked out of the way past my legs on top of the carrier.

On the French-Canadian site it was called the "Pelican", which is a nicer name, and refers to how the top of the bag expands as you stuff more things in.

I think 3.5 stars out of 5 is a bit harsh. I paid £90, including shipping, for mine in May.

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