Two sizes, optional shelf design, voile-friendly attachment and super lightweight? Tailfin have entered the Cargo Cage market with a bang.
The Tailfin team and ethos
Slick marketing, clever product design and a minimal aesthetic; you’d be forgiven for thinking that Tailfin have been around for years, with a sizeable team too. Yet on visiting their Bristol harbourside HQ, a lofty room within a centre for modern art and design, you’ll find anything but.
Nick Broadbent, Tailfin’s founder welcomed me in and poured a coffee while introducing the rest of the team: Rob Phillips, the senior product designer, COO James Atkey and Dan Hopes – an old pal from the Shepton Mallet Rapha store – in customer service. Since then they’ve been joined by Cycling Weekly’s James Bracey, MTBer turned adventure cyclist to head up marketing.
I chatted to Nick more about Tailfin’s ethos; what really makes them tick. It was the interface of soft goods and hardware that really caught my attention as something that you really don’t see very often, and where Tailfin are striving to position themselves. Sure, their first carbon fibre rack was solely on the hardware side of things, but more recent developments with the Tailfin panniers and AeroPack suggest otherwise, and have been all about the integration between the two.
The other thing that sets Tailfin apart is their attention to detail in design. Rather than ambitions for a full range of bikepacking and commuting gear comparable to what’s already on the market, they’ve been taking steady steps to consider individual pieces of kit, only taking their ideas to market once they believe that they’ve solved existing issues to make something genuinely new, better and distinct from what’s currently available.
Introducing the Tailfin Cargo Cage
On first glance, you might think that Tailfin have made another fork cage (which is all the rage in 2020 anyway), but there’s more to the cargo cages than that.
The Tailfin Cargo Cage is CNC machined from the highest grade of aluminium used in the bike industry, 7075-T6. The priority here was strength; eliminating potential fail points of welded or sheet metal cages. Weight was also key to this choice, and with options from 56.6 grams, it’s certainly a lightweight option.
Testament to their strength, the cages have been tested on the roads and trails, and will hold cargo up to 5 kg on road and 3 kg off-road.
Securing your cargo has been modelled around the ever-loved voile strap. You can get these in a multitude of colours and sizes (including some great editions from pals at Pannier.cc and London Bike Kitchen), and although Tailfin don’t officially have their own yet, they might’ve said ‘watch this space’…
Unique modular design
Then there was the option of a cage simply as a cradle or with a bottom shelf. For heavier items like water bottles, a lower shelf is handy, but for some strap-on bags or larger loads like tent poles it can get in the way.
To overcome this, Tailfin designed a removable ‘Load Chip’ which can easily be removed or added back with a single bolt, depending on your trip set up.
A choice of two different sizes
You’ll get a choice of two sizes with the new Tailfin Cargo Cage, small (2-3 bolts) or large (2-4 bolts).
Although these do work well mounted on the forks, that’s certainly not the only option. Wherever you find cargo or bottle cage mounts, they’ll be able to attach, including on the Tailfin rack systems.
The 72 mm width has been chosen to make sure you can fit underneath the downtube or in the main triangle with plenty of drivetrain clearance, regardless of Q-factor.
A streamlined design and closefitting profile means that the cages can be left on the bike between loaded trips if you like. The carefully chamfered edges of the cages ensure zero risk of damage to soft bags or straps. Or your fingers for that matter!
We wanted to overcome both the material and functional limitations of current cargo cages. Existing cargo cage designs are lacking in many ways: plastic injection moulded versions are heavy and can crack, while metal cages have weak points at the welds and, like sheet metal versions, can look crude. The majority are L-shaped so have limited use, are location-specific, and can damage or scuff forks.
We’ve created a modular piece of kit that not only provides extra capacity but also the capability to carry a far greater range of equipment, all in a single, streamlined, tough and light package.
Tailfin founder and Mechanical Engineer Nick Broadbent
- Construction: 7075-T6 Aluminium
- Length: 157 mm (S), 221 mm (L)
- Width: 72 mm
- Depth: 16 mm
- Weight (Cradle only/with Load Chip): small – 56.6 g/67.8 g, large – 78.9 g/90.2 g (L)
The Tailfin Cargo Cage is available to buy from www.tailfin.cc in black only. The small costs £39 (€45 / $55) and the large £45 (€50 / $60).
ADVNTR’s initial thoughts
We’ve had a pair of the small and large Tailfin Cargo Cages for a month or two on test at ADVNTR, although regrettably they haven’t seen as much use as we’d like with the UK banning overnight stays away from home.
I’ve used one set as fork cages on the Riverside 920, and my partner John is currently using one as a cage for his oversize Nalgene bottle on the downtube of his Salsa Mamasita XC bike.
From limited experience so far I’ve been impressed with their simple yet well thought-through design. The one thing that I did find was that the ApiduraFork Bags straps are a little wider than Voile straps, so they took a bit of wriggling to get through the strap guides, although Tailfin have mentioned that they are going to widen these slightly for the second batch of cages. If you already have these Apidura bags, it might be worth holding off until the new year to get those instead.
Otherwise I have nothing much else to report, but look forward to properly testing these when bikepacking is back on the menu (hopefully) in 2021.
What about the competition?
Let’s compare weight, price and material to some of the other cages on the market. Tailfin do pretty well in terms of weight, loosing out only to the titanium Many Things from King Cage and the minimalist Problem Solvers.
The Tailfin options are more pricey than many others on the market, although the removable base Load Chip is a unique feature that should make them more versatile and future proof.
|Cargo cage||Weight (g)||Price||Material|
|Topeak Versacage||128||£23 €26.49 $25||Plastic|
|Blackburn Outpost||157||£22 €25 $25||Alloy|
|Problem Solvers Bow Tie (pair)||20 (x 2)||£15 €17 $15 (x2)||Alloy|
|King Cage Many Things||39||£60 €60 $55||Ti|
|Salsa Anything Cage (v2)||143||£30 €40 $30||Alloy|
|Salsa Anything Cage HD||149||£35 €45 $35||Plastic|
|Specialized Burra Burra||150||£18 € $30||Alloy|
|Widefoot CargoMount||71||$48/57 (approx £36/43 €40/47)||Alloy|
|Tailfin Cargo Cage||56.6 – 90.2||£39/45 €45/50 $55/60||Alloy|
We’ll be back with a full review of the Tailfin Cargo Cage in 2021!
Last modified: 17th December 2020