raceface T3 Fox mission tailgate pad 2
Review

A Tale of Two Pickup Pads

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RaceFace T3 Tailgate Pad (5 bike medium and 2 bike)

I can be a procrastinator. Like most pro's, this gets worse when the task looks to be frustrating or annoying or difficult. When I took the new RaceFace/Fox pickup pad out of its box, it seemed like it was going to be all of those things. There were three large pieces, all attached with straps, and some smaller pieces that I couldn't identify. So instead of strapping it on right away, or looking at the install in I left it in storage for a few days before finally committing.

As it turns out I needn't have waited. What looks like a shitty job is pretty straightforward and certainly not frustrating or awkward. It's made easier with the included guides you use to pull the straps underneath the bottom of the gate. I wouldn't say it's faster than pushing them under with your fingers with the gate partly open, at least on my Tacoma, but it's certainly safer. I am about 50/50 in terms of pulling them out or doing it the old fashioned way but I'm sure many people will appreciate the convenience of these.

The killer feature of this tailgate rug is its adjustability. Tailgates all used to be slim and relatively uniform. Now most modern gates have significant thickness so designing a pad that fits both new and old gates is a bit of a pita. RaceFace dealt with this by making the new pad adjustable. The aforementioned three pieces can be adjusted individually to accommodate the width and length of your tailgate, or even curvature in some cases. This ensures that the padding will be in the right place to protect your bike and your truck. Once you've got it set up and you remove it, when you re-install it you just need to tighten it up and it'll fit as it did when you took it off.

Okay, there's actually another killer and that is for those of us who use tonneau covers. The down tube padding velcros into place for deployment, and also has a little placement adjustability. That means you can pull the three pads free of the hook and loop to get a better fit for your tonneau or your canopy. As it turns out, my soft tonneau fits fine with the pads in place and it actually reduces the gap to seal a little better, but for those with a more precise fit this will be a godsend.

raceface T3 Fox mission tailgate pad 20

If you want to use your tonneau or canopy, just detach the top of the downtube protection and it will hang down into the bed.

raceface T3 Fox mission tailgate pad 23

After that everything closes flush.

I very rarely strap my bikes into place but when you have a lot of bikes aboard and/or you are hauling on rough roads, these come in handy to stop the bikes from fornicating and scratching paint and stanchions. The straps have adjustable placement and adjustable size to accommodate even the plumpest eMTB downtubes.

raceface T3 Fox mission tailgate pad 23

The straps work better on downtubes that are more plump than this. Adjusting them down necessitates threading a double thickness of strap through the adjustment points, which is a little finicky.

There is a large opening for your latch and your back-up cam. In fact, it's so large that your stanchion or your tire, depending on the bike, might make contact with your handle or your truck. RaceFace thought of this and they include two pieces you can add into that space to prevent damage while still leaving your camera and your handle accessible. Part of the issue here is that the ridged, compression-moulded foam pad that cradles your fork leg doesn't extend all the way across but this gap doesn't seem to cause any problems as long as the extra pieces are deployed.

raceface T3 Fox mission tailgate pad 10

Extra pads are included to customize the space where your handle and your backup cam live. These are essential for many bikes because the stanchions or crown might otherwise come in contact with your truck.

The Two Bike T3

I've seen single bike pads before and those seem a little silly. A two bike pad makes some sense though if you always ride with the same person or you don't ride much at all and don't shuttle or drive anyone else to the trailhead. This has all the features of the larger T3s but it hangs out on one side of your gate only instead of spanning the distance.

It's very compact and you may wonder how it accommodates two bikes. The bikes themselves can be tight together but once you turn your bars those 29" wheels can take up some space, particularly if you are loading rotors out on the driver's side of your truck.

For this placement, there is a deployable flap that folds out from under the pad to support the tire of the inboard bike.

Minor Issues

It's clear these were designed with newer trucks in mind and as a result my Gen 2 Tacoma is not the ideal candidate for this pad. It works but only with the top straps that adjust for the thickness of gate completely bottomed out. A problem here is that there is a tether to collect excess strap length at the base of the straps that needs to be pulled right through the cinch. This works but then the tether isn't usable so I pulled the strap through so the tether is again accessible on the top side. The excess strap also prevents your bike from having any contact with the buckles that are used to pull things tight.

I also found the straps that hold the bikes in place a little awkward to work with when dealing with small tubes because there is a lot of overlap in the hook and loop making it necessary to push the overlapped straps under the mounting loops, which is a little tricky.

Another minor issue specific to second gen. Tacomas is that the pad width leaves a gap on each side where the gate is exposed. When it's evenly spaced there is a little over 1.5" (40mm) on each side making it about 3" short overall. Having coverage here comes in handy when you are trying to overload your truck which in my case means 6 bikes. Putting the first driver's side bike tight to the end of your gate buys some space that comes in handy on the other end. Previous RaceFace pads fit much better so I'm guessing there were newer and smaller trucks to fit this time around to make the pads more universal.

Verdict

I've had a lot of tailgate pads over the years and a lot of them just seem to mail it in. There either isn't enough padding or the handle and camera can't be exposed or the fit sucks, and sometimes it's all three. RaceFace seems to have done their homework here and while I can't speak for all trucks, the adaptability of the pad seems to cover many bases. Aside from a few minor niggles, this fits my needs very well and keeps both bikes and trucks protected.

RaceFace T3 Tailgate Pad/Fox Mission Tailgate Pad

2 bike - 145 CAD 130 USD

Mid Size 5 bike or Full Size 6 bike 269 CAD 259 USD

- Cam McRae


Saris Tailgate Pad Large 6-bike

The message from Cam rang out into the NSMB group one morning: "Hey Guys anyone want to test a pickup pad? I have a large for someone to test". Several hours later the chat was riddled with messages from people that politely declined due to an array of vehicle incompatibilities. As it turns out not many of the NSMB crew have pickups, and those that do don't have *real* pickups. The following week, the Saris tailgate pad was installed on our family rig, which my father proudly refers to as his work truck.

As of late the pad has done its fair share of truck stuff, protecting the tailgate while hauling rocks, dirt for the garden, and lumber. In addition it has seen mountain bikes, gravel bikes, hybrids, and it took my parent's electric bikes up to Whistler for a weekend getaway last week.

When I started working in bike shops, tailgate pads were less ubiquitous, with many, even those toting expensive bikes, opting for an old blanket or a slab of cardboard extending over the tailgate. The most popular option was the Dakine Pickup Pad. It was simple, adorned with velcro straps, minimal padding, and lack of a back up camera flap. The market has since exploded and there is now a plethora of options in the tailgate pad world. The Saris pad offers a promising package with it's padding thickness, relative ease of install, large back up camera flap, and metal G-hook closure mechanisms.

Putting it on was minimal faff with two people and took about 5 minutes to get it properly adjusted and cinched down. Saris tells us they include a routing tool for the web straps, although I could not find it. Regardless, the four straps went through the tailgate relatively easily, but this wouldn't be something I'd want to do on my own regularly. Further, I have experienced the install of these to be easier on the tailgate of an older truck since the gap between the bed and tailgate is usually larger and there isn't wiring to get in the way of the straps.

The big win of this tailgate pad in my experience, and the standout reason to buy this one, is the use of G-hook style straps to secure the bikes in place. The G-hooks were more user friendly than velcro, not fouled from mud, and will not lose their adhesive abilities as time passes. In addition the G-hook was curved to prevent downtube contact. The finish on the metal was solid and you could always refinish them down the road if desired. If you're shuttling you've probably protected your bike anyway, and in my case especially, riding mostly steel bikes, unwanted wear was an afterthought.

There were two 11 x 6" inner storage pockets on the back of the pad. These went unused as I knew anything put in there was likely to be forgotten, rained out, and ruined by rust. I see these of value nonetheless and would like to find a practical use for them. The fold up window opening of 15" wide by 14" tall was plenty large and held in place by a G-hook when in the open or closed position. The pad sported a high quality PVC outer face with a soft back surface where it rested against the vehicle. The minimum required inner bed clearance for the large tailgate pad is 59", fitting on my Ram 1500 with a few inches to spare on either side.

This pad is designed to carry up to six bikes and the straps are long enough to secure down tubes up to 4.9" in diameter. My parents' internal battery e-bikes were secured by the straps with extra length to spare. The thick multi-density padding along the top of the tailgate provided ample protection for the bike and truck. The padding blocks were arranged such that each downtube has a reinforced cavity to sit in to keep the bike as stationary as possible. However, the channel is only 3 inches wide, meaning that larger, especially larger e-mountain bike down tubes were too wide and dwarfed the opening created by the padding. With down tubes being angled, as opposed to dead flat on the bottom, it still worked. Definitely a bit of a hiccup considering Saris had given thought to e-bikes with the design of larger down tube straps.

The Saris Tailgate pad, available in both small and large sizes, greatly expands the ways I can carry bikes on my truck. It's well made and comes with all the features one would expect out of a premium tailgate pad. The G-hook closures, in my view, were a huge upgrade over the velcro ones, although the spacing of the padding underneath the downtube was not as accommodating of larger bikes as I would've liked

Life time warranty deserves a mention - I've sold countless Saris Bones bike racks over the years. Very few have came back but the ones that did we were replaced or repaired without hassle, a testament to Saris customer service.

Saris Tailgate Pad Large 6-bike // 330 CAD

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Comments

XXX_er
+4 Jotegir BarryW Mike Ferrentino Sandy James Oates

Locally I've seen a PU with a fridge carton draped over the tailgate and " Race face "  printed in big letters using a sharpie

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0

That's my kind of class.

Reply

the-prophet
+2 Jotegir utopic

You should get that X2 serviced, leaking out the adjusters. 

Known issue that sometimes the comp adjuster will rock around under use and cut a groove in the body. If that's the case Fox will warranty it.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0

Thanks! That's my wife's bike. Good eye!

Reply

XXX_er
+2 Cam McRae BarryW

For a random shuttle in a truck that doesnt have a tailgate pad i take my elbow pad off and strap it to the downtube

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Cam McRae

Honestly I'm most impressed by that install tool/guides. Can't tell ya how many times we had to get the needle nose pliers out to help customers install these things at the shop after they purchased them without expecting how difficult they are to install on some vehicles.

Reply

XXX_er
0

I managed to find a used  Race face pad in good shape ( only 1 small rip )  for only 25$ so they are out there. Btw you see a lot of pads with rips in the top cover and its possible to do a pretty bomber permanent  repair with aqua seal or shoe goo

Reply

Powking
+1 Jotegir

XXXer - "Aqua Seal, I put that shit on everything!"

Reply

dknapton
0

I have the same generation Tacoma and tailgate pads are the bane of my existence. I have the previous race version and prior to putting ride wrap shuttle armour on my bikes, a 10 minute ride up the squamish shuttle trails road results in rubbing through the paint on one bikes downtube, and through the ride wrap on another bike. Seems they just aren't made for the skinny tailgates. Debating weather it's worth upgrading to this new model.

Reply

Roxtar
0

I've only seen one thing that properly protects downtubes against tailgate pads.

Effetto Mariposa Shelter wrap. It's a true 1.2mm thick, is complete clear, and works really really well.

A little pricy but worth it.

Reply

0

I have two bikes with keel strips for boats on the downtube. The adhesive is crazy strong and the material is super durable. One of the bikes is a 2019 and has seen a lot of shuttle miles, and the keel strip looks like it could last for another 5 years of shuttling. This stuff is black and kinda thick like 2-2.5mm? so might not work for the fancy folks.

Reply

utopic
0

I've always wondered about using tailgate pads - once they get a little dirty, wouldn't the material that touches your stanchions act like sandpaper/sander and wear them, due to road vibrations?

Are you only meant to use them for short trips? Or clean'em all the time?

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