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Tailfin's aim for its top tube bag range is unapologetic: fix the problems with the current crop based on rider feedback, and make this the 'ultimate' version. And you know what? I think they've done it.
These come in three sizes – 0.8L, 1.1L and 1.5L – and the two biggest ones have flip lid versions too. I'm reviewing the middle size here, and have used both styles of opening. There are pros and cons to each.
The flip lid is marginally more water resistant (although I can't say I had any problems with the zip version), and it gives you a bigger opening with a better overview of what's inside. It works incredibly well by the way; thanks to a combination of the 3D welded lid fitting really well and the magnet meaning it almost shuts itself.
The zip is better if you are likely to stuff compressible items in. The picture below shows the flip lid version with a waterproof inside, and you can see the lid doesn't sit quite right.
Given that the flip lid is £5 more expensive too, I would go for the zip version, personally.
If you have direct mount bosses on your frame you can just use a couple of bolts; otherwise it's done via Voile-like TPU cargo straps. There's a rubber bumper (Tailfin calls it a V-mount) which both methods pass through, and getting it fitted is easy. The V-mount can stow away excess strap as well.
The combination of V-mount and straps is bombproof and makes any sway, sagging or drooping a non-issue. There is no front-attachment to the stem because it's just not necessary. It has the sort of rock-solid stability that Filip Maciejuk can only dream of.
You get three straps included: two 18.5cm ones (perfect on my Kinesis Tripster), and a 36cm one you'll need on oversize top tube / down tube unions such as found on carbon mountain bikes. Should the 36cm still not be long enough, then a shorter one can be combined with a longer one.
These mounting options should cover most frames, whether direct mount or not – unless you've got cables above your top tube). That would be an issue for any top tube bag, though.
As there's no movement in the frame attachment at all, and the interface is either rubber or TPU, there's very little chance of it leaving a mark on your paintwork.
The top tube bags are made from the usual hypalon / diamond ripstop nylon mix that is used for a lot of other Tailfin products; it's completely waterproof and very durable.
Sandwiched between that outer fabric and a soft inner lining on each side is an plastic honeycomb. It's there to give the bag shape, obviously, rather than to house plastic bees.
Along the base a foam 'insole' stops your expensive electronics rattling against the frame, and I felt happy trusting my phone to this bag on any kind of terrain.
There's an internal divider / mesh pocket on the left hand side where you can stow your phone, and a cable port on the front that's handy for connecting battery packs to head units or lights.
Tailfin's range of top tube bags are designed to avoid knee interference in various ways. The smallest version has the most extreme taper and is aimed at people who are usually affected by knee rub, and who ride road or gravel bikes. The biggest one is most suitable for mountain bikes, and the middle one works on any bike.
I'm testing the middle version here, on a Kinesis Tripster gravel bike. I didn't have any issues riding seated, but my knees do touch the bag when climbing out of the saddle. If I were buying one, I'd go for the small.
I don't think there's anything particularly wrong here; if you want to cram 1.1L of stuff on the top tube, there's only so many places it can go. If you go for a longer, narrower shape then you get issues with standover height; perfection is hard to come by if you can't bend the laws of physics.
At £55 this is fairly priced for the spec and build. Even those straps aren't cheap options, for instance; if you were buying actual Voile Nano ones, you'd be forking out more than £15 just for them.
You can spend less; we liked Craft Cadence's top tube bag, which also has a magnetic closure, and is £45.99 for 1.5L as a bolt-on, or £39.99 with straps. It doesn't work as well on smaller diameter tubes and the closure doesn't look as secure as Tailfin's, however.
If you're after a smaller bag, then Restrap sells a 0.8L for £39.99; £12 cheaper than Tailfin's smallest version.
It's worth mentioning that Tailfin guarantees all its products for five years, and there's a 30% discount on like-for-like replacements if you destroy something in a crash. For me, the combination of this and the cargo straps goes quite a long way to justifying the price.
This bag is really well designed and attaches extremely securely, without (assuming you keep the contact spots clean) any risk of damaging your frame's finish. The price is fair for the quality; if you're after a top tube bag, go for one of these.
Top notch top tube bag that's super stable and kind on its contents
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tailfin Top Tube Bag 1.1 Litre
Size tested: 1.1 litre
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?
"Handy storage for items needed on the go, in a place that's instantly accessible. Specially sculpted 3D welded shapes eliminate knee rub. Patented V-Mounts secure the pack to your frame without risk of damage and remove the need for a front stabilising strap.
"All Top Tube Packs can be fitted with straps or as a bolt-on attachment (all hardware supplied)."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Riding style: road / gravel / MTB
Weight: 154 grams direct mount or 166 grams with straps
Material: Hypalon / ripstop nylon
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The attachment is super stable, and items are stowed securely and protected from the weather. Job's a good 'un.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The super stable attachment, and the amount of thought that has gone into the whole design.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I did get a little knee rub climbing out of the saddle.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is about the same as comparable products - see the review for details.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The attachment is super stable without the need for a front strap, you can use them on any bike be it direct mount or not, and the construction is waterproof and rigid enough to stop the sides bulging out. These are near perfect; my only gripe is that I experienced a bit of knee rub climbing out of the saddle. Even so, it's excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: All of them! My best bike is: Ribble Endurance SL disc
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, mtb, Zwift