Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo review: The perfect mountain bike transport solution?

When it comes to transporting bicycles, the most common ways are either to put them on a roof-mounted rack or fold the back seats down and put them in the boot.

However, that first solution can be incredibly awkward – lobbing your bike on the roof when you’re tired after a long ride is not something to look forward to, not to mention there’s a risk of scratching your paintwork.

And as for putting them in the boot, many a mountain biker has tried to carefully slide their bike in the back of their car on top of a protective sheet, only to end up covering the upholstery in mud.

However, on a recent trip to the trails, we spotted what looked like a fantastic alternative. A pickup truck owner pulled up with a pad over the tailgate, with four mountain bikes strapped to it.

Admittedly, this solution does require ownership of a pickup truck, but if you’re considering a new vehicle and spend a lot of time transporting bikes, this could be worth bearing in mind.

To put one such pad to the test, we took a Mitsubishi L200 out with an Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo strapped to the back and a couple of mountain bikes in tow. Here’s how we got on…

What are we testing?

Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo
The Duo costs £69.99, with a larger pad for up to six bikes also available. (PA)

The item we’re testing is the Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo, which has strapping for two bikes and retails for £69.99 at ZyroFisher in the UK. There’s also an Evoc Tailgate Pad available for between £149.99 and £169.99, which can accommodate six bikes.

How does it attach?

It’s a bit fiddly at first, but it’s a remarkably simple solution. You lay the pad over the tailgate with the chunky plastic protection resting on top. You then pass straps beneath the tailgate, pass through loops on the other side of the pad, then strap it to itself.

It feels like it shouldn’t be as sturdy as it is, but once you’ve pulled the straps tight the pad doesn’t budge.

How do you attach the bikes?

Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo
Strapping the bike in place requires a single Velcro strap. (PA)

This is the easy bit. Simply pass the bike over and into the truck bed (or drop the tailgate for easier access, then put the front wheel over the pad so it’s hanging behind the car. Velcro straps then pass around the frame to hold the bike in place and… that’s it.

Again, it looks like it should fall over at the first opportunity, but while driving the bike barely moves about. Even when the truck’s rear end bounces about over potholes the bike remains secure.

Cool cars, cool bikes, crap weather. #StormDennis made for some moody pics even if it did ruin our ability to actually go for a ride! pic.twitter.com/NOMS8mWYzA

— Darren Cassey (@darrencassey) February 16, 2020

Just to be sure, though, on a longer journey we used a bungee cord to secure the Marin Hawk Hill and Canyon Spectral bikes we’d been kindly lent, which held both perfectly in place and add extra peace of mind.

What are the downsides?

There are a couple of negatives. The first is that while the larger pad has a flap that can be opened for rear-view cameras, the smaller Duo doesn’t. That means that when we set it up initially, it blocked the view out of the reversing camera and meant the parking sensors were going berserk.

Also, when mounted centrally, the wheels can obscure the number plate. However, both these issues can be fixed by moving the pad to one side.

Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo
There’s space for two bikes, but with both in place one tyres will always brush against the tailgate. (PA)

The other issue is that with the wheels over the tailgate of the Duo, the tyre can rub against the bodywork. If you notice this when carrying one bike, you can just turn the wheel the other way, but with two, we noticed at least one tyre would always lean on the tailgate. It’s only rubber, but with it jiggling about on the road all day, it might leave small scratches and marks on the paintwork.

What’s the verdict?

The tailgate pad is a niche product – it does require ownership of a pickup truck, after all. However, if you do own one and spend your weekends tearing up bike trails, it might just be the perfect transport solution.

Evoc Tailgate Pad Duo
The Tailgate Pad Duo is an excellent accessory for mountain bikers. (PA)

Not only does it make transporting up to six bikes easier than a roof rack and less likely to cause damage than laying them on your truck bed, but it means you can also simply hose down the truck to get rid of mud and avoid potential damage to your paintwork.

Overall then, if you’re a pickup-owning mountain bike rider, a tailgate pad is a must-buy solution.

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