As a genuine contender in hotly contested best bike panniers and pannier racks category, the Tailfin Cargo Cage represents a simple yet versatile option to use when looking to carry more on the bike.
- Passport Lug-Kage fork rack review
- Ortlieb Fork-Pack review
- 13 of the best ways to attach gear to your mountain or gravel bike
The Tailfin Cargo Cage is available in three sizes, large (tested), small and mini. All are made from 7075-T6 aluminium, with no welds and no plastic parts.
The large cage we tested has four possible connection points, but not all bolts need to be connected. It is designed to fit parts with either standard two-bolt bottle cage fixing, or three-bolt fixings, which are usually on rigid forks of gravel bikes or bikepacking bikes. There are other fixing locations, with the Tailfin Alloy rack being another option.
The cage features six eyelets on each side, which are designed to fit either Tailfin Cargo Straps or Voile straps. The bottom of the cage features a removable 'load chip', which is a small horizontal part that fixes to the bottom of the cage. It provides an area to support the bottom of a loaded bag or bottle and doubles as a bottle opener. While the chip does add some support, the majority of the support will come from having secure straps in place, but it also helps when loading and fixing the bags, or what you decide to strap to the cage.
In use, I found they helped provide a very secure load, not moving the slightest bit when used with Tailfin Cage Packs. The cages in question do not have a weight limit, but Tailfin suggests a maximum payload of 1.5kg per fixing point for off-road use. This would equate to 3kg if securing over two bolts or 4.5kg if using across three bolts. This might not seem like much, but I found it more than adequate, usually not even reaching 1.5kg total within a bag, or bottle strapped in place.
The minimal shape of the cage makes it more versatile and able to hold either a dry bag or other packs such as the Tailfin Cargo Pack,. However, when compared to some larger cages, such as the Passport Lug-Kage, it allows smaller diameter items/bottles to be strapped in place. If you remove the load chip, you can take longer items, such as tent poles, which can be tricky to carry when bikepacking. This is where the extra length and strapping locations of the large cargo cage really appeals, adding extra security.
The large cage weighs 90g with load chip connected (-11g without), which is quite light compared to similar cargo cages. The Salsa Anything Cage, which is a popular option weighs 149g, and the Passport Lug-Kage is 185g, but for many riders, weight is not the most important thing when bikepacking.
The Tailfin Cargo Cage performs well, but that performance does come at a premium price with the large cage (tested here) coming in at £45 (with no straps included). There are much cheaper options, including the Passport Lug-Kage at just £23, which is the same price as the larger version of the very light Drj0n Strap Deck that I tested last year. The Free Parable Gorilla cage is another priced at £25 that can work for larger loads. For £10 more than the Tailfin cage, you can buy a fork pack with mount included. The Ortlieb Fork Pack now costs £55, although it is not as versatile as the Tailfin cage and is designed purely for use on a fork.
It might seem like paying more for less, but the simplicity and minimal design of the Tailfin Cargo Cage is what makes it so good, creating a stable load carrying option for bags, bottles, or almost any manner of other things.
You might also like:
- Your complete guide to bikepacking - what kit you need, how to plan and prepare
- Opinion: We need to be more specific about what 'gravel' is
- Bare bar riding: Ditch the devices and start riding free