Rack or AeroPack – Which one is right for me?

One of the most frequently asked questions we get here at Tailfin is which of our systems would work best for an individual rider. It’s not surprising that the initial answer we give is almost guaranteed to be the same for every inquirer, ‘it depends on many factors but mainly what you use your bike for’. While this might seem like a blanket, vague and all-inclusive ‘answer’, it is meant to get you thinking as to what it is you wish to get out of any potential Tailfin purchase. After all, we want you to be completely satisfied that you have chosen the perfect setup to meet your needs.

If you’ve gotten this far then you are hopefully in a position to be considering which system is right for you. So let us use this opportunity to help you narrow down the selection.

The crucial difference between a Tailfin Rack and AeroPack lies in how the arch is joined to the seatpost connector”

First let’s start with a bit of education as to the key difference between a Tailfin Rack and a Tailfin AeroPack. On the surface they look very similar, mainly as they both use the same main carbon or alloy ‘arch’ and the same connector for attaching to your seat post. The crucial difference lies in how the arch is joined to the seatpost connector. The Rack uses a carbon or alloy top stay to complete the structure, whereas the AeroPack does away with this additional stay and instead uses the top bag as an integral part of the system. The Rack approach allows the top bag to be removed rapidly, leaving the rack in situ on your bike. The AeroPack however has less parts and hence is the lightest option – but you have to take the whole AeroPack with you if you want to remove the bag from your bike.

We have a deep dive Product Guide if you want to go into more detail.

Tailfin Rack on the left, AeroPack on the right.
Tailfin Rack (with pannier mounts) left, AeroPack (with pannier mounts) right.

So now we’ve cleared that up, some of you might already have a better idea of which system to go for. If not we’ll go through some key questions that might help further, starting with the simplest way of splitting them up.

Key Question 1

Do you want a tailfin system that you can use for everything from carrying the shopping, commuting to work all the way to the occasional bikepack/tour?

Plan on using your Tailfin system for a variety of tasks? One of our rack systems is probably your best option.

Answer: Get a Rack. Choosing a Tailfin Rack system accesses the most versatile combinations we produce. You can choose exactly how you carry your luggage with a rack. As it consists of a base framework you can opt to fit any combination of trunk top bag and side pannier bag*, including fitting side pannier bags from other manufacturers**. 

As the bags can be rapidly removed this choice should appeal to those riders who want the convenience of being able to take the bag/s with them when arriving at the office, accommodation or supermarket.

*Racks with pannier mounts have capacity to fit side pannier bags

** using the additional Third-Party Pannier Adapters

Key Question 2

Are you looking for a system that you will use only for bikepacking or bike touring?

If you want to use a Tailfin system mainly for bikepacking then we think the AeroPack would be best.

Answer: Get an AeroPack. The AeroPack is designed to be the most simple and user friendly of all Tailfin systems. Think of it as the most stable and secure seatpack style bag you could ever fit to your bike. It has a less intricate mounting system than a Tailfin Rack and AP20 Trunk Top Bag combo which makes it lighter and provides complete reliance when off-road. As an additional benefit, as the bag is an integral part of the structure, noise and rattle are eliminated when really pushing the boundaries of where you can explore.

Those two questions will hopefully give many of you the answer you are looking for, but if not here are some other considerations that will help you close in on the perfect setup.

Question 3

Where do you ride?

Does your chosen riding terrain look more like this than smooth tarmac?

If your riding consists predominantly of on-road tarmac based travelling the demands on your bike and luggage carrying options are significantly different to those imposed if you spend a lot of your time on gravel or more serious tracks and trails. Smooth(ish) surfaces normally provide minimal problems for your choice of setup and as such both Tailfin Racks and AeroPacks are equally suited to the task. If you plan on venturing off-road via a gravel bike or mountain bike then one thing to consider is the AeroPack’s fully integrated design and fewer component parts is less susceptible to rattling and has fewer dirt trapping areas than a corresponding Rack versions. 

Question 4

How much do you want to carry and how do you want to carry it?

You can technically carry exactly the same amount of kit with both a Tailfin Rack and AeroPack. When chosen with optional side pannier mounts each can carry up to 27 kilograms of luggage via top bag and side pannier bags. Volume wise (when using Tailfin bags), this equates to 64 litres of storage space. 

Where the division becomes obvious is if you would like the option to carry your own chosen storage solution such as a dry bag instead of a Tailfin top bag. This is simply not an option with the AeroPack so if you want to strap on your own bag it can only really be done with a Tailfin Rack.

What can you fit in a Tailfin system? We experimented to find out how to pack for multiple occasions and what to use.

Question 5

What is more important, weight or versatility?

Ultra Endurance racers tend to favour the AeroPack for its light weight and simple design.

If you plan on undertaking an ultra-distance race, want to do some fast touring on your road bike or simply want the lightest Tailfin setup we produce then you need to go for an AeroPack – it’s nearly 150 grams lighter than the equivalent Tailfin Rack. If versatility is higher on your list of priorities than weight then you should choose a Rack. 

Question 6

Do you plan on locking your bike up anywhere outside?

A Tailfin Rack system has the advantage if you often leave your bike locked outside whether it’s at the office or outside the supermarket thanks to the simplicity of being able to remove the bags and leave the rack in place. You can of course remove the AeroPack quickly and easily but you will need to carry the full system, arch included, if you do take the AeroPack anywhere. 

If you plan on often leaving your new Tailfin Rack on your bike when locked outside we would recommend you opt for direct frame mounting to maximise the security of your rack when your bike is left outside for any period.

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