The Best Tailgate Pads: A Breakdown

Mountain biking has been progressively growing in popularity over the years.

In fact, since its inception in the early 1970s, this extreme sport has flourished to over 9 million mountain bike enthusiasts in America alone.

But this growth in popularity isn’t without its drawbacks.

This is because many mounting alternatives to transport your bike(s) may damage your vehicle, increase fuel consumption, or even require additional spending.

That’s where having a tailgate bike pad can come in handy.

In this article, we will cover the best tailgate pad for your truck, as well as a plethora of other options to consider.

So keep reading, because you’re about to learn of the best pads for transporting your bike(s) to those mighty, majestic, and mountainous pathways.

What is a Tailgate Pad?

A tailgate bike pad is a bulky, upholstered pad filled with foam that folds itself on top of the tailgate of your truck. Your bike is then perched on top of it with its front wheel and its fork hanging on the exterior side of the tailgate.

Additionally, some of these pads also offer extra straps as well as bumpers that can hold several bikes in place at the same time.

This prevents them from bopping into each other while you’re traversing on the road.

Especially if you’re someone who commutes their bikes for gravity runs, a mountain bike tailgate pad will prove to be particularly useful.

This is because tossing your bike on a tailgate is more efficient than fastening it onto a bike rack.

Additionally, there is also the issue that many conventional bike racks present: They can no longer properly secure many of the new edition mountain bikes due to adjustments made to the wheels and frames.

The wheels have gotten bigger and the frames longer.

As a result, this has rendered many bike racks ill-equipped to safely secure this new breed of mountain bike.

Why Are Tailgate Pads Better Than the Alternatives?

There are many alternatives when it comes to a bike tailgate pad. If you’ve been considering some of them, here are a few of those options as well as a few reasons as to why you may want to reconsider and opt for a tailgate pad instead.

Hitch Mount

The hitch mount (also known as a rack) is a bike rack that glides onto the receiver of a car/SUV/truck’s trailer hitch. They are often used for families or for people who go on long trips regularly.

The problem with hitch mounts is first, they are clumsy and inconvenient to set up.

Second, it becomes increasingly challenging to determine your backing distance, which can lead to accidents.

And third, it’s very easy for your license plate to get blocked by the bikes on your hitch. And this can attract unwelcome attention from the police.

With a truck tailgate bike pad, you won’t have to worry about any of these issues.

You simply throw the pad on the tailgate, place the bikes at a distance apart from each other that makes sense, strap them in, and enjoy the ride to the mountains knowing that your precious cargo is safe and secure.

Trunk Mount

The trunk mount carriers are connected to the trunk of your vehicle. Using rubber mounting points as well as straps, it becomes fixed in place ready to fasten your bicycles to the mount and carry them to your destination.

Unfortunately, an option such as this has been known to cause damage to your vehicle.

This is because the mount, in addition to the latching points, tends to create spots of pressure on the truck.

Once this happens, it can easily lead to scratches and indents to your vehicle. And of course — even if these blemishes are minor — they can still cost a lot of money to repair.

This is something you won’t have to worry about with a tailgate on the back of your truck.

Roof Mount

The roof mount is a very popular option among bike enthusiasts. Similar to the trunk mount, the roof mount is very self-explanatory. It’s placed on the top of your vehicle in order to accommodate your bikes.

But the roof mount has a myriad of drawbacks that take away from its appeal.

First, it can be a challenge to lift your bicycle high enough to reach above your head and onto the roof. This alone makes things more difficult for you than they need to be.

Second, it limits your access to certain areas. For example, if there are any low level ceilings in the entryways of parkades, garages, shops, etc., you may be in for a difficult time.

And third, you won’t be able to haul any more than two or three bikes at a time unless you have another vehicle.

All of these are issues that you won’t have to concern yourself with if you had opted for a mountain bike tailgate pad instead.

Bed Carriers

You also have the option of a bed carrier. Bed carriers are medal beams placed in the back of your truck to secure the bicycles within the box.

And even though they are quite sturdy and useful, their downside is that they do require assembly, and it can be quite tedious and demanding to put together properly.

Compare this to the ease of simply throwing a tailgate bike pad on the tailgate of your truck, placing your bikes in position, and then taking off.

I think it’s clear as to which one will prevent a brain aneurysm from occurring.

Features to Look for in a Tailgate Pad

Knowing that tailgate pads are the better option is only half of the equation. It’s equally important to know what to look for in a mountain bike tailgate pad.

Here are a few things to consider while on your search:

A Good Fit

Your tailgate pad will only be effective when it can sit snugly on the back of your truck. And for that to happen, it has to be the right size for your tailgate.

Ensuring that you know the measurements of your truck and that the tailgate pad matches them is a prerequisite for this process to go smoothly.

Nothing is worse than paying out $150 to $300 for a high-quality tailgate pad, only to realize that it doesn’t fit the diameter of your truck.

So be sure that you get this right the first time.

Durable

A tailgate pad goes through a lot of abuse. From hanging off the back of your truck, being exposed to elements, having bikes constantly placed on and lifted from the pads, etc.

You have to make sure that your pads a tough, robust, strong, and durable.

A little research will quickly reveal what the best kinds of pads are for durability (which you will learn all about later in this article).

But having well-designed and resilient pads will not only keep your bikes and truck protected, but will also save you money.

Cheaper pads will rip, tear, and split open much easier and faster due to their second-rate design.

This will keep you returning to Amazon or your local hardware store to repeat the same process all over again.

So go for quality, and make sure that your pads are tough and can stand the test of time.

Easy to Install

If you don’t want the tailgate pad to be a permanent fixture on your truck, then it’s a good idea to find an easy-to-install pad. Something that allows you to pick it up and put it down at will.

The pads that allow for this kind of flexibility will vary, as it depends on the locking and strapping devices.

Usually, the panels that offer the fold-over cover, in addition to the rear camera and tailgate handle accessibility, will provide the easy installation you need.

Straps

If you still have problems with your bikes banging around in the back, it means your straps are not up to snuff. Ensure your straps are strong and that they are tightly secured to the tailgate from your pad.

Failure to do this will result in scratched bikes as well as a dented truck.

The Different Kinds of Pads Available

As the saying goes, ‘Variety is the spice of life’. And this philosophy was certainly applied to the production of high-quality tailgate pads. 

As a result, there is a near endless stream of different kinds of pads for you to choose from.

Big or small, black or white, custom designed or standard production — you can have it all with your tailgate bike pad.

Here are a few of the different kinds of pads available to help you get the gears turning:

Yakima Gatekeeper

The Yakima Gatekeeper will safely carry your bikes to any trailhead you wish to traverse. Its new cushions help to safeguard and support your bikes so that they don’t bang into each other or shift out of place.

Furthermore, its hindsight cover can be ruffled out of the way so that it doesn’t interfere with the view of your backup camera.

It’s both easy to use and incredibly effective at keeping your bikes safe and secure.

Even on rough roads that are filled with potholes or under construction, you can rest assured that the Yakima Gatekeeper will do its job of keeping your mountain bikes fastened.

In addition to that, it will also protect your tailgate, ensuring that your truck remains scratch and blemish free.

It feels, looks, and is durable, and even though it is a little on the expensive side at $180, you know that you’re getting your money’s worth when it comes to the Gatekeeper pad.

Evoc Tailgate Pad

The Evoc Tailgate Pad has a design that shows off its well made composition. It has a 600D tarpaulin veneer, which has more than proven its effectiveness on road trips and bold excursions.

The interior of the pad wields a microfleece filling that assists with safeguarding your tailgate.

It also features a velcro flap that folds up, allowing you to gain access to your tailgate handle easily and effortlessly. It can fit up to 6 bikes and comes in a L or XL size to fit any pickup truck.

The pads are tough and rugged, but also have a soft vinal feel that lends a tactile richness to its surface.

As a result, the look of the Evoc Tailgate pad is clean and sleek. This along with its reinforced straps and resilient stitching make it an excellent choice for your tailgate bike pad.

For all intents and purposes, this is a great pad that is as functional as it is practical.

And if you’re somebody who is constantly applying and removing your mountain bike tailgate pad, then this is an option that would suit you and your needs perfectly.

Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad

The Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad comes in as a more economically competitive choice. The exterior has elevated pads that clasp onto the forks of each bike; effectively holding them in place during the drive.

Additionally, it makes use of bumpers placed on the crest of the pad to safely fasten the downtubes.

Working in unison, these features keep the bikes together so that they don’t bump around in the back while you’re driving through uneven terrain.

And besides that, the Getaway Tailgate also offers a pocket for tools that is located on the back of the pad.

And while it’s not a secured lockup system that can prevent thrift, it is certainly a notable feature that helps to set it apart from other tailgate pads.

LEEPTIC Tailgate Bike Pad

Produced with 5 concave openings as well as durable fixing straps that can cradle 5 bikes at once, the LEEPTIC is a great option for any outdoorsman.

Moreover, it also has a specially designed opening in the back for handle access, as well as a rear camera.

Where most tailgate bike pads have a slender opening that covers the backup camera, the LEEPTIC allows easy access (and use of) the camera while it is still firmly placed on your tailgate.

Additionally, it is made with an extra thickness — measuring about 1.5cm — where most pads on the market only measure about 0.7cm.

It is comprised of high-quality, heavyweight material known as PVC tarpaulin, that also features a micro whisked interior lining.

This will enable it to not only ensure that your bikes remain shielded from any potential damage, but will also keep the tailgate pad itself looking fresh for a long time to come.

Fox Racing Tailgate

The Fox Racing Tailgate offers superior protection. It will guard your bike, your truck, as well as your gear better than almost any other tailgate pad. It will protect your equipment from scratches, blemishes, dents, dings, etc.

In addition to that, it features an open flap that will grant you easy access to your tailgate’s handle. You won’t have to muddle around looking for it or have to take off your pad every time you need to open the tailgate.

Also, the Fox Racing Tailgate Pad will fit almost any tailgate. A small size pad will snugly fit a small and medium sized tailgate and will carry 5 bikes.

Whereas a large size cover will be ample for a full size truck and will be able to fit 6 bikes.

Moreover, with the Fox Racing Tailgate, you can ride in style up the mountain with a different design of customization on your tailgate pad!

You can choose to roll in jet black or switch it up and go for the camo alternative. Furthermore, there is also the fox head logo to choose from.

The material is sturdy and durable, making it easy to provide the adequate padding needed to protect your tailgate as well as your bikes.

Thule Gatemate Pro Tailgate Pad

Made from the most durable materials for strength and resilience, Thule is easily one of the best tailgate pads for transporting your bikes. This is a tailgate pad that will not disappoint.

It features a couple of storage areas to suit whatever needs you may have for them. Additional straps, bug spray, gear, locks, etc. They can all be tossed in one of the compartments and accessed later when needed.

It’s a great fit for almost any truck and provides you with the trusted durability that you expect from a high-quality truck tailgate bike pad.

Top Products Overview: Finding the Best Tailgate Pad

Now that we’ve covered some of the different kinds of pads that are available, let’s take a look at some of the higher-end products. If you want the best tailgate pad you can find, then you’ll want to go through this list.

Here is a small overview of some of the top pads you can find:

Dakine Pickup Pad DLX

Dakine makes some of the best and most durable tailgate pads on the market. They are also credited with being one of the very first brands to produce tailgate pads for mountain bikes.

The Pickup Pad DLX by Dakine is its most exceptional and well made tailgate pad to date.

Using the strength of four nylon straps, the Pickup Pad DLX fastens to your tailgate with the additional help of ladder lock style buckles.

Additionally, it also offers metal grommets for a safe and secure lockup if you’re leaving your bikes unattended after a long day on the pathways.

The Pickup Pad DLX is not only a safeguarding bike pad, but it’s also an accommodating product because it offers a single Velcro strap for every bike that it can assist.

Nestled on the back of the pad, the strap can easily reach the downtube of your bike.

This will prevent them from unnecessary movement while the truck is driving; preventing any damages to the vehicle and the bikes.

The large pads can fit up to seven bikes, while the smaller ones can fit up to five.

The Dakine tailgate pad is the industry standard, the customary product for tailgate pads. And you won’t be disappointed with its high-quality performance and long-lasting durability.

Raceface Tailgate Pad

One of the most popular, favored, and well-liked options is the Raceface Tailgate Pad. Its latest edition, the Tailgate Pad T2 can hold a capacity of 6 bikes! (if you get the L/XL versions).

It offers frame straps of velcro in addition to molded bumpers made of foam on the interior to safeguard your bicycle’s downtube as well as on the exterior to shield your fork sanction. 

Ensuring your bikes don’t damage each other or your truck while driving is paramount, and that’s what these pads help to accomplish.

Moreover, four straps are attached to the pad, which allows you to secure the Raceface Tailgate Pad to the tailgate of your truck.

Additionally, 6 straps were built-in and connected to the pad at the top. This allows for the fit to become custom.

However, depending on the model of your truck, there could be corners that might scrunch up and become squished.

But with that being said, the Raceface Tailgate Pad is a well-thought out system that holds its bikes steady while also shielding your truck at the same time.

Rocky Mountain Underground Tailgate Locker

If you have a larger sized truck, say a Toyota Tundra or a Dodge Ram, then this option may be a good fit for you. At 61 x 20 inches, it offers full coverage for bigger tailgates and can fit up to 6 bikes.

Additionally, it provides a few more benefits that can be quite useful, such as tool storage pockets, insulated pockets to keep drinks cool and fresh, as well as a center opening for a backup camera.

Choosing the Best Tailgate Pad

In order to protect both your bikes as well as your vehicle to the best of your ability, it’s essential that you find the best tailgate pad that you can for your truck. It will save you a lot of frustration later on.

We hope you enjoyed this article, and if you’re curious about learning more or have any questions about how these products can fit your budget, drop us a line!

We’re excited to hear from you!

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