Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

TECH NEWS

First look: Tailfin carbon fibre rack and matching panniers

Hands-on with the carbon fibre Tailfin rack

Nick Broadbent, the Bristol-based inventor of the Tailfin carbon fibre rack, has a background in engineering and this, combined with a passion for cycling and product design, has led to the development of a product that has taken Kickstarter by storm. 

Unimpressed with current racks, which are heavy and only fit bikes with rack mounts, he saw a gap in the market for a lightweight design that could be fitted easily to any bike, even a carbon race bike without any rack mounting eyelets. 

Tailfin Carbon Rack - no panniers.jpg

The Tailfin, a sleek and light carbon fibre rack, hit Kickstarter last month and has exceeded even Nick’s loftiest ambitions, with the £50,000 goal now seeming a modest target when the total has surpassed £127,000 at the time of writing (there are still four days to go). 

I’ve written about a lot of Kickstarter projects over the years, some good and many bad, but the Tailfin is one of those that stood out. So, of course, I was keen to take a closer look at the product when Nick offered to pop along to the office this week

Tailfin Carbon Rack - pannier off.jpg

The rack comprises three main components; a carbon fibre hooped beam, aluminium support rod and quick release skewer. Carbon was used for the main component simply because the low weight that was one of the key objectives of the product wasn’t attainable with aluminium. The supporting beam, which attaches to the seatpost, is made from aluminium, carbon would have only saved a handful of grammes. The whole rack weighs just 275g, compared to 465-770g.

Tailfin Carbon Rack - top.jpg

There are no tools needed to fit the rack to a bike. To demonstrate, Nick fitted the rack to a GT Grade that was in the office. It’s simply a case of removing the standard rear wheel skewer and replacing it with Nick’s own skewer. The key difference is the two long barrels on each end that are used to fix the rack to. The axle fits bikes with 130 and 135mm width rear dropouts.

Tailfin Carbon Rack - QR detail 2.jpg

The rack is attached to this replacement skewer, with a tool-free latch that locks everything solidly into place. It can be fixed more permanently with the addition of two small screws. There’s a similarly tool-free bracket that clamps onto the seat post, fitting most typical sized posts, from 25.4 to 34mm. An adapter for aero seatposts is being developed.

Tailfin Carbon Rack - QR.jpg

Because the funding has gone so well, Nick has developed a rack mount adapter, so the Tailfin can be fitted to a frame that does have rack mounting eyelets. This is useful for a frame with a thru-axle with rack mounts, as many of the new breed of adventure bikes do, such as the Specialized Diverge. Useful too if you want to easily swap it between different bikes. There is plenty of tyre clearance, upwards of 42mm tyres if using the rack mount adapters. Following a lot of requests, Nick has also developed a neat little clip-on mudguard - yes it clearly won’t rival a full-length mudguard for rear wheel spray protection, but it will stop some of it.

Tailfin Carbon Rack - seat clamp close up.jpg

And that’s it. Once it’s fitted to the bike, it’s extremely secure and there’s no movement. Not only has Nick developed his own rack design, but he’s also developed to panniers that work specifically with the rack, though the rack is compatible with other typical panniers available on the market. 

The panniers are interesting because they incorporate a carbon fibre back panel that adds a lot of structural rigidity to the system when they are attached to the rack. There’s not a bit of excess movement even when giving the bags and rack a solid shove. They have a 24-litre capacity and are large enough to take a 17in laptop, and are made from a durable waterproof fabric with a roll-top closure. 

Tailfin Carbon Rack - from rear.jpg

There is an 18kg weight limit to the rack, so it’s not a product for cyclists that like to travel with the kitchen sink, but for many purposes, whether it’s commuting or lightweight touring, it’s probably ample.

With the Kickstarter campaign a success, Nick aims to deliver the finished racks in October. You can still get a rack if you’re quick. £152 will get you the rack, quick release skewer and adapter pins while £197 will add one pannier bag to the package, or £240 if you want a pair of pannier bags. 

Tailfin Carbon Rack - detail 2.jpg

Not one to rest on his laurels, Nick has some other developments and products up his sleeves that point to a bright future for someone that has taken Kickstarter by storm with his debut product.

Also interest, he has recently produced this comparison video putting his rack and panniers up against a seatpack and rucksack.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/tailfin/tailfin-ultra-light-carbon-bike-rac...

David worked on the road.cc tech team from 2012-2020. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds, and you can now find him over on his own YouTube channel David Arthur - Just Ride Bikes

Add new comment

15 comments

Avatar
LastBoyScout | 7 years ago
0 likes

For less than £25 I fitted a Blackburn Expedition 1 disc rack to my carbon road bike for an over night trip - used with a dry bag strapped on top. That also uses a replacement skewer.
Zip tied the supports to the wishbone above the rear brake but next time will change the seat clamp for one with eyelets.

Avatar
philtregear | 7 years ago
0 likes

stupid idea, as are the people who have backed it. if you want a tourer, buy a tourer. people who can afford silly sums for a carbon rack would better spend there hard earned on a posh , eg titanium, tourer.

if your poorer and spent oout on a carbon bike, then £240 will go along way towards a second hand tourer made of steel.

 i bought a bike bag from an article on this site which swops with a bracket between bikes . less than a£100 with 3 brackets. holds 10kg , enough for most things other than full on touring.

Avatar
PennineRider replied to philtregear | 7 years ago
0 likes
philtregear wrote:

stupid idea, as are the people who have backed it. if you want a tourer, buy a tourer. people who can afford silly sums for a carbon rack would better spend there hard earned on a posh , eg titanium, tourer.

if your poorer and spent oout on a carbon bike, then £240 will go along way towards a second hand tourer made of steel.

 i bought a bike bag from an article on this site which swops with a bracket between bikes . less than a£100 with 3 brackets. holds 10kg , enough for most things other than full on touring.

I expect it's commuters, not tourers, backing this. It's a way of converting your carbon Sunday bike for use on the commute. I can see the appeal.

Avatar
macrophotofly replied to philtregear | 7 years ago
0 likes
philtregear wrote:

stupid idea, as are the people who have backed it. if you want a tourer, buy a tourer. people who can afford silly sums for a carbon rack would better spend there hard earned on a posh , eg titanium, tourer.

if your poorer and spent oout on a carbon bike, then £240 will go along way towards a second hand tourer made of steel.

 i bought a bike bag from an article on this site which swops with a bracket between bikes . less than a£100 with 3 brackets. holds 10kg , enough for most things other than full on touring.

 

Twice a year I go for multi-day trips (3-6 days) witht he bike club where the bags are not carried by someone else and I have to take everything with me. I have two carbon bikes (a SLR 9.8 Boardman and a Cannondale Synapase) which unfortunately do not have rack mountings. Neither is used for commuting - both for weekend club riding.

For those couple of trips buying another bike which sits around unused for 9 months of the year makes no sense and eats into the wife's tolerance for B+1. A small rack of this type suddenly makes a lot of sense

Avatar
vonhelmet | 7 years ago
2 likes

I understand the desire for a rack that fits a bike without specific mounts, but surely the weight is a red herring. The Tortec Ultralite rack weighs 440g, so that's a whopping 165g heavier than this, but given the intention is then to carry a whole bunch of presumably heavy stuff in the bags, who cares? If you're putting 10Kg of stuff in your panniers, then 165g is neither here nor there.

Avatar
BehindTheBikesheds replied to vonhelmet | 6 years ago
0 likes
vonhelmet wrote:

I understand the desire for a rack that fits a bike without specific mounts, but surely the weight is a red herring. The Tortec Ultralite rack weighs 440g, so that's a whopping 165g heavier than this, but given the intention is then to carry a whole bunch of presumably heavy stuff in the bags, who cares? If you're putting 10Kg of stuff in your panniers, then 165g is neither here nor there.

Was looking for some lightweight racks and this came up.

Just looked on their website and the rack is 350g and the lightweight bag is 650g, so quite a way off their claimed weights and looks to have had a redesign particularly at the seatpost clamp. The weight doesn't include the side boosters so you can use your own bags! The capacity was brought down to 22l from 24l as well.

The UD (Ultra Durable) bag is heavier than a Halfords bike Hut large. 

The price for the rack plus one bag is an eye watering £319!

Think I'll stick to a tortec velocity, even my old skool Muddy fox tubular alloy rack is only 200g heavier and that's a proper full sized rack that'll take 30kg easily

Avatar
ChetManley | 7 years ago
1 like

While I can sort of see why it's been a hit on kickstarter, I have to say the real world test wasn't a fair comparison; you don't load a saddle pack with 6.5kg of incompressible stuff. It's for soft stuff, and less weight as Apidura themselves state.

Nice looking rack, bit pricey, but if it floats your boat.

Avatar
Twowheelsaregreat replied to ChetManley | 7 years ago
0 likes
GrapeApe wrote:

Nice looking rack, bit pricey, but if it floats your boat.

 

Pretty sure that's not what they were designed for.

Avatar
ChetManley replied to Twowheelsaregreat | 7 years ago
0 likes
Twowheelsaregreat wrote:
GrapeApe wrote:

Nice looking rack, bit pricey, but if it floats your boat.

 

Pretty sure that's not what they were designed for.

It had better for that sort of money! Grumblegrumble

Avatar
brooksby | 7 years ago
1 like

Is there that much demand for a rack and panniers from people riding carbon fibre road bikes anyway?

Avatar
David Arthur @d... replied to brooksby | 7 years ago
1 like

brooksby wrote:

Is there that much demand for a rack and panniers from people riding carbon fibre road bikes anyway?

 

The successful Kickstarter campaign probably answers that question

Avatar
brooksby replied to David Arthur @davearthur | 7 years ago
1 like
David Arthur @davearthur wrote:
brooksby wrote:

Is there that much demand for a rack and panniers from people riding carbon fibre road bikes anyway?

 

The successful Kickstarter campaign probably answers that question

Fair enough: just surprises me, is all. I think of cf framed bikes as racing thoroughbreds rather than carrying panniers to the shops...

Avatar
Redvee | 7 years ago
0 likes

The clamp on the seatpost looks a bit bulky to me, I'd be worried about thigh rub for some people.

Avatar
me | 7 years ago
1 like

Who stole the pedals?  Hope the panniers come with a locking mechanism.   Apologies if that's mentioned on the video but linking to a video is no substitute for writing articles.

Avatar
paulskinn1 | 7 years ago
1 like

As someone who is in the industry this is a wonderful idea, which I'm amazed no one has thought of before.

Personally for me I don't think it needs bigger bags or to be able to carry more weight. I see this working well on my nice Road bike, allowing me to carry essentials if I choose to take the TCR to work or over to my folks for the night, rather than my heavy workhorse. 

To answer one of the issues raised by SuperPython, if you refer to the Kickstarter page, it shows examples of other pannier bags will fit the rack. So in most cases you can use your own bags. 

Latest Comments