5 Best Tailgate Bike Pads For Your Truck in 2023

Three mountain bikers loading bikes into bed of pick-up truck fitted with tailgate bike pad

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Are you tired of throwing your bike in the back of your pickup truck and hoping for the best? Frustrated with scrapes and dings from not having proper padding while you bounce down dirt roads? Enter tailgate bike pads!

Mountain bike tailgate pads are the perfect solution for riders who have an open-bed truck and want a quick, easy way to transport their precious cargo to and from the trailhead. They’re efficient, secure, and can carry up to six (or more) bikes – making them excellent for shuttle parties.

My brother and friends have been using tailgate pads for years (sadly I don’t own a truck), and they are a favorite among many riders.

But with so many options out there, it can be hard to know which tailgate pad is the best fit for you. In this post, I’ve put together the best mountain bike tailgate pads for trucks based on reviews and personal experience. Let’s dive in!

Pros & Cons of using a tailgate Bike pad

If you’re trying to decide whether a tailgate bike pad is the best option for you, here are a few pros and cons.

Note that the drawbacks of using a mountain bike tailgate pad typically come down to user error, so don’t let these cons dissuade you from getting one.

If you do your due diligence by installing the pad correctly and loading your bikes securely, these drawbacks can easily be avoided.

  • Easy to install & remove. Most tailgate pads are super easy to install onto your tailgate and easy to remove when not needed. Simply use the straps and/or velcro to secure it to the tailgate and you’re ready to go!
  • Leave them on throughout the summer. Tailgate pads are also pretty unobtrusive and don’t interfere with the space in your truck bed so they can be left on throughout the mountain biking season.
  • Relatively affordable. Compared to platform hitch racks or hanging racks, which can cost upwards of $500, a tailgate pad is pretty affordable. Most come in around $125-150.
  • Bikes are secure. If loaded correctly and strapped in nice and snugly, tailgate pads are very secure. There’s virtually no risk of dumping a bike, unlike hanging hitch racks or even platform racks.
  • Can haul up to six bikes. Depending on the size of your truck, a tailgate pad can accommodate up to six bikes which is a lot more than most other bike racks!
  • Damage to the down tube. The down tube holds the most weight of the bike when resting on a tailgate pad, so there is some risk of it getting damaged especially when on bumpy roads or going over speed bumps. You can help reduce this risk by using the frame anchor straps to secure your bike and prevent it from bouncing up and down on the down tube.
  • Easy for thieves to grab. Tailgate bike pads do not have locks, so you’ll need to come up with a system to prevent thieves from grabbing your bikes out of your truck bed. Some bike pads like the Dakine Pick-Up Pad have a small grommet in the corner that you can thread a cable lock through.
  • Dust can get under the pad and abrade paint on the tailgate. If you plan on driving on dusty dirt roads, this could be something to look out for. You may need to regularly clean underneath the bike pad to prevent abrasion.
  • Abrasion to bike frame and components. This is probably the biggest concern when using a tailgate bike pad. There are several points of contact between the bike frame and fork and the tailgate pad, so you do run the risk of rubbing and abrasion. Some riders will tie a soft cloth or towel underneath the fork to prevent damage.
  • Sun damage and fabric degradation. A lot of mountain bikers will just leave their tailgate on for the mountain biking season, which is super convenient. However, prolonged sun exposure can cause tailgate pads to fade and even degrade the fabric over time.

Can’t I just use a blanket or piece of foam?

Technically, yes, you can. Some mountain bikers do make their own tailgate bike pads out of old blankets or pieces of foam, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re just driving a short distance to and from the trailhead (and even then it’s risky!).

DIY tailgate pads aren’t as secure or padded as professionally designed and manufactured ones, so there’s a much greater risk of your bike or truck being damaged.

Icon of pickup truck

Best Mountain Bike Helmets At A Glance

1. Dakine Pickup Pad

Two Wheeled Wanderer Favorite

Key Features
  • Dimensions:
  • Small: 54 x 15 x 1.2 inches
  • Large: 65 x 16.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Bike capacity: [S] 5, [L] 7
  • Works with backup camera? No
  • MSRP: $150.00

Where to shop

  • What I like: Good padding, individual frame straps, tried and tested
  • What I don’t like: Not compatible with backup camera, less padding than some other pickup pads

The Dakine Pickup Pad is one of the most popular tailgate bike pads out there because it’s simple, no frills, and effective.

It’s made from tough and durable recycled polyester and has a good amount of padding across the top to protect your down tube from getting damaged.

If you’re worried about theft, there is a built-in security grommet in the top corner that allows you to secure bikes with a cable lock.

The Dakine Pickup Pad comes in two sizes: the large can fit 7 bikes on larger trucks and the small can fit 5 bikes on smaller trucks.

My brother has been using the Dakine tailgate pad for years and it’s still going strong!

It’s important to note that this pad is not backup camera compatible. If you need a backup camera cutout, check out the Dakine Pickup Pad DLX.

7 mountain bikes in back of truck bed with front tire hanging over tailgate bike pad
Using a Dakine Pickup Pad to shuttle 7 bikes at the Kingdom Trails in Vermont!

2. Fox Tailgate Cover

Two Wheeled Wanderer Runner-up

Key Features
  • Dimensions:
  • Small: 33.5 x 54 x 16 inches
  • Large: 34 x 62 x 19 inches
  • Bike capacity: [S] 5, [L] 6
  • Works with backup camera? No
  • MSRP: $165.00 – $185

Where to shop

  • What I like: Good height, individual straps, good amount of padding
  • What I don’t like: Not much!

Another popular tailgate bike pad option is the Fox Tailgate Cover. This pad has velcro frame anchor straps for securing bikes on bumpy rides and long switchbacked shuttles and it’s made from durable material.

This new version has more padding than previous models, which is great to see, making it pretty on par with the Dakine Pickup Pad above. It kinda boils down to which brand you prefer.

The Fox Tailgate Cover comes in two sizes: the small can accommodate mid-sized trucks and five bikes while the large fits well on most full-sized pickups and can carry six bikes.

3. Race Face T2

Best tailgate pad with extra padding

Key Features
  • Dimensions:
  • Small: 17 x 1.75 x 57 inches
  • Large: 17 x 1.75 x 61 inches
  • Bike capacity: [S] 5, [L] 6
  • Works with backup camera? Yes
  • MSRP: $215.00 – $225.00

Where to shop

  • What I like: Excellent padding, adjustable rear camera panel, micro brushed lining, very secure
  • What I don’t like: Pricier than other models, doesn’t fold down when stored

The Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad is designed to fit any truck tailgate size and shape. This updated pad has enhanced padding and individual hook-and-loop frame anchor straps to keep your bikes secure on bumpy roads and windy days.

It’s one of the burliest tailgate bike pads out there.

The Race Face T2 also comes with a micro-brushed lining to help protect your tailgate and the adjustable rear camera panel works with most backup cameras.

The small T2 Pad can fit up to 5 bikes comfortably and the large can fit 6 bikes with little risk of them bumping against each other.

4. Evoc Tailgate Pad

Best For rugged wear & tear

Key Features
  • Dimensions:
  • M/L: 53.15 x 33.08 x 1 inches
  • L/XL: 63.4 x 38.98 x 1 inches
  • Bike capacity: [M/L] 6, [L/XL] 6
  • Works with backup camera? Yes
  • MSRP: $160.00 – $180.00

Where to shop

  • What I like: Super durable, can fold down to be stored, metal (as opposed to plastic) hooks, strategic padding
  • What I don’t like: Not as padded as other options

Evoc is known for designing and manufacturing top-notch mountain bike gear and their Evoc Tailgate Pad is no exception.

This pad has a 1-inch layer of EVA foam to protect bike frames from getting damaged and the outer layer is made from 600D Tarpaulin, which is super durable.

If you plan on putting your tailgate bike pad through lots of use and abuse, this could be a great option.

The Evoc Tailgate Pad also comes with hook-and-loop straps to keep bikes snug and secure and the large fold-away flap is compatible with most backup cameras.

Both the M/L and XL pads can accommodate 6 bikes.

5. Evoc Duo

Best Half tailgate bike pad

Key Features
  • Dimensions: 32.7 x 22.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Works with backup camera? NA
  • MSRP: $90.00

Where to shop

  • What I like: Super durable, easy to take on and off, can travel with it
  • What I don’t like: Out of luck if you have more bikes

If you don’t need to shuttle a half dozen bikes, the Evoc Duo may be a great choice for you. This tailgate bike pad is essentially the same as the full Evoc Tailgate Pad above, but it’s designed to haul just one or two bikes instead of six, making it an affordable and convenient choice.

If you’re planning on traveling afar with your mountain bikes, this tailgate pad can be folded up and stashed in your luggage or bike bag so that you’re ready to roll in your rental truck upon arrival.

Tailgate Bike Pad Features & Considerations

When shopping around for the best tailgate pad for you, your bikes, and your truck, here are a few features to consider before buying:

  • Backup camera compatibility
  • Padding and lining
  • Number of bikes

Backup camera compatibility

Most tailgate pads now come with some sort of backup camera compatibility window, but that’s not to say it will line up perfectly with your truck’s camera or sensors.

If this is an important feature for you, it’s a good idea to do more research on your truck’s compatibility or contact the dealer to make sure the cutout will be aligned with your truck’s backup camera.

Padding & lining

Depending on how rowdy you plan on getting with your bike shuttles, tailgate padding is another consideration. If you’ll be doing a lot of rough dirt road driving with lots of washboards and potholes, you may want to invest in a burlier tailgate pad like the Race Face T2.

On the flip side, if you’re just going to drive on smooth or paved roads you could get away with a less padded option like the Fox Tailgate Cover.

How many bikes do you want to haul?

Lastly, think about how many bikes you’ll need to haul. If you only need room for 1-2 bikes, a half pad could be a perfect choice.

If you are going to shuttle lots of your mountain biking friends or groms, then a large tailgate bike pad that can accommodate 5-6 bikes will be a better option.

Final thoughts

Tailgate bike pads are a fast and convenient way to transport your mountain bike(s) to and from the trailhead if you own a truck.

They can be left on throughout the season, but easily removed if it’s in the way.

Personally, I think tailgate bike pads are the way to go if you drive a pickup!


Looking for more bike transport options and storage? Check out these related blog posts:

Do you already have a tailgate bike pad? Which one and what are your thoughts on it? What other questions do you have about mtb tailgate pads? Leave a comment below!

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