The Tailfin Top Tube Pack takes a common and popular style and levels it up with stability and function that has proved faultless. With near-flawless functionality and competitive pricing, it makes a seriously convincing case as one of the best bike packing frame bags.
- 76 Projects A.S.S. Top Tube Bag review
- Straight Cut Top Tube Bag review
- Best bike packing frame bags for gravel and mountain bikes, reviewed
Top tube packs provide easy-to-access, convenient storage on the go and they are often used for storing food or electronics such as phones and spare batteries. Despite being available for years, the design has largely remained unchanged, with common mounting options that usually include some form of strap to go around the stem to give a little extra stability.
There are a few exceptions, such as the DrJ0n DeWidget, which does reduce rub and provide a little more stability but the difference is small. As the size of a top tube pack increases, frame rubbing usually gets worse as the overall weight increases.
Tailfin Top Tube Pack - Technical details
Tailfin has designed this new bag from the ground up with multiple sizes on offer including the 0.8-litre (tested), 1.1-litre and 1.5-litre options that feature a zip opening. A version with a flip-lid and looped closure version are also available, and that comes in 1.1- and 1.5-litre sizes. All styles and sizes feature the same materials and mounting system, using the Tailfin V-Mount design. This design is based around a grippy rubber-style material that sits on the top tube, designed not to move or cause frame rub with space in the v-mount to slide through a Tailfin stabiliser strap, which is very similar to a Voile strap.
The packs can also be directly mounted to any frame with fixing on the top tube. Inside the packs under a removable base, there are two mounting positions allowing flexibility depending on the location of your top tube bolts. Each pack comes with screws for direct-mount frames and three straps (with two short and a longer strap) that should allow the pack to be fitted to bikes with a chunky carbon headset/top tube/down tube area.
The 0.8-litre pack (pictured here) weighed 132g as a bare pack and increased to 140g with bolt-on fittings, 151g with the two shorter straps, and topped out at 156g using one short, and the longer strap. This does put it on the heavier side.
Tailfin Top Tube Pack - Performance
Mounting to a bike was very simple. I first fitted to a cross-country mountain bike where different-sized straps were needed to get around the deep headtube area - I believe only the very biggest frames are likely to be a problem. Any excess strap tucks neatly into the V-mount design and is unlikely to come loose during riding. The pack was also fitted to a carbon gravel bike with no problem at all, although one bike it failed to fit was a Ritchey Outback, due to the external gear cable design that meant the V-mount would sit on the cable stop on the top tube.
The zip on the bag is waterproof. It uses a ripstop nylon fabric that Tailfin calls Hyperlon with 210D thickness throughout. The zip is also waterproof and, unlike many other packs tested that feature a waterproof zip, it proved to be incredibly easy to open. A big reason for that is the firmer sidewall construction of the pack, with reinforced side panels that hold the shape with no flop, even when empty.
With bags that don’t have this stability, when you undo the zip it can cause the material to fold, but on the Tailfin packs that simply doesn’t happen - even without any form of stem/steerer attachment. The packs are backed up with a five-year warranty for defects, and there is also a 30% discount on a new pack should you be unlucky enough to damage it in a crash or while riding.
Inside the bag is a small elastic divider to keep cards, money, or similar items separate and there is also a cable port if you want to hold a battery and charge devices on the go. This does mean it is not fully enclosed but the position should mean that unless the bag and bike are fully immersed in water. Water ingress is unlikely to happen.
So how does the bag perform in use? Quite simply, it is superb, and the stability the mount and structure within the side panels create meant that it didn’t move a single millimeter despite testing on a mountain bike with plenty of technical terrain. Another area that I liked was the profiled shape and, as someone who likes to climb out of the saddle, knee rub can be a problem on many other packs. For the Tailfin, the profile at the back, which is the area most likely to cause a rub is narrower and after hours of use, on two bikes I had barely any knee rub.
The 0.8-litre pack probably won’t be big enough for some or longer trips but with similar features across other sizes, the benefits will be similar. As the packs increase in size the width does increase, and this might be a problem for those with a narrower pedaling style, or on road bikes with narrower Q-factor designs.
Tailfin Top Tube Pack - Verdict
The 0.8-litre Tailfin top tube pack costs £52, with larger zip packs at £55 and £60. The price does make them a little more than some others, with very basic options such as the Lifeline Adventure Top Tube bag starting from just £15. The price is still competitive for a premium branded pack, especially when you consider this will fit almost all bikes, with fittings for direct mount and three straps included. The 76 Projects A.S.S Top Tube Bag is just under £60 and the Straight Cut Top Tube bag is now £65 but features a more basic Velcro attachment as standard.
It might sound a bit like a cliche to say that Tailfin has raised the bar but that is truly what the brand has achieved, producing a bag with a stable design that has multiple mounting options as standard and a strong, durable design that simply gives a faultless performance.