Having owned a Dakine truck pad for a couple of years I was excited about the introduction of a new pad on the market. While most pads do a good job of protecting your truck's tailgate, when the road gets rough it's very easy to damage bikes when they shift positions and rub on each other. Race Face has addressed these issues by adding down tube straps and raised foam bumpers to keep bikes in their place. Designed with shuttling in mind, there are foam bumpers for up to seven bikes and five Velcro down tube straps for a more secure fit.
Race Face Tailgate Pad Highlights
- Tough, 600D + PVC pad material with DWR water repellent treatment
- Soft, micro fiber inner lining
- Front and rear raised foam bumpers to safely hold bikes in place
- Velcro-backed webbing loop and strap system that works with both large and small down tubes
- Small/Medium 57" Width - Recommended for Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, and other vehicles with compact cargo beds
- Large/X-Large 61" Width - Recommended for Toyota Tundra, Ford F150, Dodge Ram and other vehicles with full size cargo beds
- MSRP: $129.99 USD
The most notable feature right out of the box is the microfiber inner fabric which is there to protect your truck gate. If you were to break down in the woods, it could also double as the world's most comfortable emergency blanket - it's that soft. It acts more like a towel when mud gets thrown in between the gate and the pad, which helps prevent abrasion if you don't clean it out right away, or as in our case even notice the mud in there in the first place. During the installation it took a bit of tinkering with the straps to get the pad to fit correctly, but given the wide range of truck gate dimensions out there the Race Face pad seems to be a good average size. There are two models to choose from, a Small/Medium 57" for small and mid-sized trucks(tested), and a Large/XL 61" for those of you rocking big rigs.
On an older 1996 Tacoma the tailgate is actually 53" leaving 1.5" of "extra" pad on each side, but the extra overlap didn't prevent the tailgate from locking. Another oddity of the '96 Tacoma was the bumper depth, because it extends quite far out it prevents the stanchions from properly seating in the foam slots. While certainly a drawback, the Velcro straps do more than enough to keep your bikes from shifting around during transport anyway.
On The Road
We took five bikes into the mountains over rough four wheel drive trails and the pad performed perfectly, not a single bike shifted position thanks to the straps. For smaller down tube frames like dirt jumpers, the Velcro strap can be flipped over which enables it to cinch down here too.
The DWR treatment of the pad material strikes the perfect balance between having a soggy tailgate and expensive full waterproofing overkill. The pad dries quickly and doesn't attract dust leaving the pad looking fresh even on dusty roads.
Things That Could Be Improved
This is a bit of a stretch, but given the multitude of tailgate dimensions in the market today it would be great to see more sizes available, especially for those of us with older trucks. The pad also comes with a few tiny elastic bands to organize excess strap slack after you tighten the pad to the tailgate - those quickly disappeared within hours of shuttling. A permanent strap organizer would be a better solution for those of us that are more of a set it and forget it mentality.
Long Term Durability
After using this pad most of the summer there's no sign of wear and tear on the down tube straps which was our first-to-break prediction. After cinching down bikes repeatedly, the Velcro is still quite grippy and hasn't lost any of its functionality. The 600D + PVC material seems to be quite durable and is still going strong after days of shuttling runs, and while we did manage to finally rip the pad with a pedal, at the time we were hastily grabbing at bikes instead of carefully removing them. Apart from the tear, the pad material itself is in perfect condition and still looks like new.
What's The Bottom Line?
Bottom line, the Race Face pad is a great evolution in the tailgate pad market. The down tube straps are something that should have been on all pads from the start - they mean you'll never have to shove soft goods or other assorted gear between bike frames for pseudo protection again. Additionally, the foam bumpers are great when just throwing bikes in the back for those shorter shuttle runs. Thanks to its well thought out design and quality construction we'll be running the Race Face tailgate pad every time there's a mountain road shuttle mission involved.
For more information head on over to: www.raceface.com.
About The Reviewer
Andy Holloway has been riding bikes ever since seeing New World Disorder 3 back in 2003. Inspired, he immediately began sculpting dirt jumps and pump tracks that have a unique and technical style while keeping it flowy. Dirt sculpting highlights include the construction of Boulder's Valmont Bike Park and a host of private pump tracks. Recently, he has discovered the adventure and sense of accomplishment from trail riding and is one of those riders who will choose the jump-transfer over the faster line - after all, it's all about keeping it fun.