For pickup truck owners like myself, tailgate pads are a great way to carry bikes. They cost hundreds of dollars less than hitch-mounted bike racks and keep bikes more secure than throwing them in the bed. Plus, they just look cool. Prior to using the Evoc Tailgate Pad ($160), I had only used hitch-mounted tray-style racks for my bikes, so I was curious to see how it compared.
Unboxing and installation
Out of the box, the Evoc Tailgate Pad looks tough. Large plastic-covered foam blocks keep bikes separated from one another and the cover itself looks very durable. The graphics on it are reserved (at least in black), which appeals to me but might be too plain for others.
Installation is simple. Just loop the three straps under the bottom of your truck’s tailgate and hook them to the back of the pad. You might want to enlist the aid of a friend for this part. When doing it myself, I struggled to keep my truck’s tailgate in the right position while threading the straps with one hand and pulling them up through the gap with my other hand. Once all three straps are hooked to the loops at the back of the tailgate pad, you pull them tight and you are ready to go.
A velcro flap in the center of the pad allows access to the tailgate handle. For trucks equipped with back-up cameras, the flap folds inwards so the camera view is unobstructed.
The Evoc Tailgate Pad allows you to carry six bikes. However, carrying bikes in the center two slots was not really an option for me. My tailgate is much wider in the center than on the sides, so bikes placed in the center did not sit as well as ones placed on the sides. Owners of trucks with traditionally shaped tailgates should have no problem carrying the maximum number of bikes. The shape of my truck’s tailgate also prevented the pad from resting flush against it, so it had unpleasant-looking gaps on both sides.
Using the Evoc Tailgate Pad
The Evoc tailgate pad worked well with my aluminum frame full suspension mountain bike. It fit securely in the slot and did not move around at all in transit, even on rough, unpaved roads. However, the pad did not work as well with my steel frame, fully rigid mountain bike. Either its geometry or the smaller diameter downtube caused it to sit above the pad instead of in it. Still, I’d feel comfortable using the pad to carry it in a pinch if I had to.
It only took a couple of times using the tailgate pad before I noticed a second drawback. The pad rubbed against my bike’s downtube during transit, causing a blemish in the paint. To be fair, Evoc warns about this problem in its instructions and advises owners to put protective wrapping on their bike’s downtube to protect it. I began using some pipe insulation around my bike’s downtube after I noticed the issue and it seems to work.
Evoc also warns owners the pad could damage their truck’s paint and suggests owners wrap their tailgates in vinyl. I didn’t see this issue while using the pad, but I always removed the pad from the tailgate when I was not using it to transport bikes.
The pad held up well during the time I tested it. I was able to wipe away any dirt or grime my bike put on it and did not see any excessive wear to the pad. I used it at least once during rainy conditions and the water beaded right off of it.
Loading and unloading bikes is a breeze with the pad, way easier than using a hitch-mounted bike rack. However, the lack of security is slightly unnerving to me. I looped a cable lock through my truck bed’s tie-down ring and around my bike’s frame if I was going anywhere other than home or the trail. I still prefer using a hitch-mounted rack for trips because it has better security.
For quick trips to the trailhead, the Evoc tailgate pad is a great way to transport multiple bikes by truck. It’s inexpensive, durable, and makes loading and unloading bikes a breeze. Just keep in mind that not all trucks or bikes might work well with it. Update: EVOC has a new, curved Tailgate Pad design coming in September, made for trucks with wide-top tailgates.
- Costs hundreds less than hitch-mounted bike racks
- Easier to install and remove than a hitch-mounted rack
- Holds up well under use and abuse
Pros and cons of the Evoc Tailgate Pad.
- Rubs against bike frame
- Doesn’t work well with every truck or bike