What can I fit to a full-suspension bike?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

We’re often asked by customers; “how can I fit your products to my full-suspension (full-sus) bike?” It could be that you’ve signed up for a challenging off-road ultra event like the HT550 or perhaps you just want to add more versatility to your full-sus bike. So which Tailfin products would you choose?

AeroPack over Rack

We recommend our AeroPack for full-suspension bikes, rather than a Rack setup. The AeroPack uses fewer parts than the Rack, meaning fewer dirt traps and a quieter ride off-road too. The AeroPack is also lighter than the Rack equivalent. All in all it’s a better option for full-sus MTBs. The connector parts used on the AeroPack also have small bushings to allow each part to pivot and work with your suspension system. We have a useful blog here that outlines the differences between Racks and AeroPacks which can help you decide.

suspension fork mount

How does it ride?

Back in 2019 Nick (Tailfin Founder and Head of Engineering) wrote a summary for Bikepacking.com to describe how a full-sus bike rides with an AeroPack fitted;

“We genuinely believe “the best bike packing bike is the bike you already own”, therefore it was important that the AeroPack could be used with full suspension bikes. Using a unique tri-pivot design, each pivot contains replaceable plain bushings which allow it to adjust position as the suspension compresses.

Carrying any gear behind the seatpost of a full-suspension bike is challenging. With regular fabric seat packs, there are three issues. Firstly they impede dropper post use. Secondly, they must be kept small (sub- 7 litres) in order to avoid the rear wheel driving into the bottom of the pack. And thirdly, they are often in the way of your backside when making steep descents.

The AeroPack does a fair job to resolve those issues, however, it is still not without its compromises. Due to the weight of your gear sitting directly on the wheel, it changes the unsprung mass of the wheel (similar to URT suspension system in the 90s), which will therefore change the suspension dynamics and create more chatter on rowdy trails.

The majority of our in-house testing has been done with a Santa Cruz Bronson which has 150mm rear travel. The results were generally positive with the positives outweighing the negatives.”

What about dropper posts?

If you have a dropper post fitted to your bike it’s a good idea to include the AeroPack Extender when configuring an AeroPack order. This part will position the bag further back and allow you to make better use of the dropper. 

We also recommend packing smaller/softer items at the front of the bag, and larger items at the back to make the most of the space you have available and avoid interference with your dropper. It’s a good idea to open the side pocket before rolling the bag shut as this will help expel any air and allow you to compress the bag to a smaller size too – again this helps when using a dropper post.

AeroPack with Extender fitted

What are the limitations?

There are a few things to be aware of when looking to fit an AeroPack to a full-suspension bike. Firstly, max tyre clearance is as follows; 29er = 2.9″ tyre / 27.5 = 3.5″ tyre. Wider tyres are likely to clog with mud or even rub the AeroPack’s rear arch.

Secondly, our rear axles can fit up to a 148mm rear hub (common on most MTBs and known as ‘Boost’). For full-sus bikes, we would also recommend selecting our Universal Thru Axle when configuring an order. This axle includes a 15mm extension that lengthens the axle and is often required on full-sus frames which feature thick chain stays and seat stays. Some bikes use an even wider rear hub (157mm, aka ‘Super Boost’), but these are currently incompatible with our axle system. 

Finally, the maximum weight that can be carried will be lower than on-road – influenced by the severity of the terrain, tyre pressures, shock setup, etc. If in doubt, start low and gradually increase the weight carried in the AeroPack until you’re comfortable on the bike. Don’t forget, the extra weight carried on the bike will affect your suspension, so adjust the sag accordingly. A good idea is to go for a test ride on a familiar trail with your new setup and adjust shock pressure, rebound, and compression settings (if available) to suit.

Additional products

The AeroPack is not the only way to carry extra kit with you on your bike. Our Suspension Fork Mounts (SFMs) transform a front fork into a bikepacking rig by allowing riders to securely carry additional bottles and cargo upfront. Pairing the SFMs with our Fork Packs allows a full-sus bike to carry up to 20L additional storage – extra capacity for the longest adventures.

Smaller packs are available too. The 3L Downtube Pack is perfect for stowing tools on full-sus frames that are often lacking in mounting points – a fit-and-forget pack that you can leave attached all the time. For phones, food and first-aid, the Top Tube Pack is available in five options and straps securely in place with our patented V-Mount system.