The Tailfin Cargo Cage comes with brilliant design features, including a modular “Load Chip” which enables long or heavy loads to be carried, many different mounting positions, integrated strap loops and a CNC’d construction making it robust and lightweight. It is expensive, but this is justified by its innovative features. The only thing that could improve it is some form of coating or bumpers to make carrying metal items more pleasant.
Range of mounting options
Integrated bottle opener
No polymer coating
By Stefan Abram
The Tailfin Cargo Cage is an incredibly well thought out piece of kit, with a range of clever design features and integrations that will benefit bikepackers and anyone who simply wants to carry more things on their bike.
Perhaps best known for its innovative Rigid Seat Pack design, Tailfin is a British design company which has recently been broadening its bikepacking ecosystem.
CNC machined from 7075-T6 aluminium, Tailfin claims this makes the Cargo Cage stronger and less likely to fail than welded or sheet metal designs. The result is a clean look with chamfered edges which mitigate the risk of bags snagging on the cage.
Along its length, there are six sets of integrated strap guides which have been designed specifically to work well with the widely popular Voile XL Straps. Naturally, the guides also function fine with other straps, I’ve used the Voile Nano series straps as well as some other unbranded straps to great effect on the Cargo Cage.
The cage has a modular design, with a “Load Chip” that can be installed to provide a supporting platform for heavier loads. Alternatively, the chip can be removed, allowing longer items – such as tent poles – to be strapped to the cage, or as Tailfin suggests, fishing rods. The chip is easy to mount, being secured by a single bolt, and it also features an integrated bottle opener – which is always a plus.
I tested the large version which comes with four bottle boss mounts. It only needs to be secured with two bolts, but the extra holes allow for greater flexibility regarding the positioning. Two rubber bungs are provided to fill in the holes that aren’t in use.
If you so choose, and you have the frame for it, you can use all the holes of the Cargo Cage and four bolts do come supplied. These take a 3mm Allen key, which is quite common, but 4mm would have been better to see as these tend to be more robust.
The Cages are rated for carrying items up to 5kg on the road and 3kg off-road, which is quite high for this style of cage.
You can mount the Cargo Cage essentially anywhere you have bolts, be it on the main frame, on the forks or on Tailfin’s own AeroPack rack. I opted for one on the inside of the downtube and one on the underside. The four bolt holes made it easy to place the cage in a good position, while the 72mm width ensured that there was no fouling with the cranks when mounting on the underside of the down tube.
Although I mounted the cages using the bottom two holes, with the rubber bungs installed there was no rattling from the top of the cages on my frame. The extra length didn’t present any issues, so I think it is well worth getting the larger option just to give yourself a little more flexibility with what you can carry.
I’ve been testing this over the UK winter lockdown of 2020/21, so I haven’t subjected the cages to any arduous multiday trips, but I have been using them when getting out on my more local loops. I’ve found the cages to be particularly useful for holding my Thermos flask and Aeropress, enabling delightful mid-ride breaks for coffee.
One thing to note is that if you are carrying something metal, it’s good to put some kind of interface, like a cloth, between the item and the cage and they can rub on each other — especially over rough terrain. This is one benefit a plastic cage does have over a metal one, although they are obviously less robust. Some form of polymer coating would be a great addition for simplifying carrying metal items.
The low profile of the cages meant that I was very happy to leave them on the bike even when I wasn’t using them. I find an empty bottle cage under the downtube looks rather odd if not filled with a tool keg, but an unloaded Cargo Cage definitely wasn’t aesthetically challenging even when I kept my tools in a saddle bag.
Checking out competitors, the Blackburn Outpost Cage is less than half the price, can carry up to 4kg and comes with straps, making it great value with an RRP of £22. On the other hand, the Tailfin Cargo Cage does somewhat justify its higher price in having a modular design enabling it to carry long loads, being CNC machined rather than welded as well as being more versatile in mounting positions and with straps.
Another alternative is the Problem Solvers Bow Tie Strap Anchors which are only £15 but don’t come with straps. They are very low profile, discrete, and lightweight at just 21g per pair. They do, however, only have a 1.3kg carrying capacity, so aren’t well suited to the heavier loads that the Tailfin provides. But if you are looking for something cheap and sleek for light loads, they might be a better option.
We haven’t yet tested either the Blackburn Outpost Cage or the Problem Solver Bow Tie Strap Anchors, so can’t currently vouch for their user experience.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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