RACE FACE T2 TAILGATE PAD REVIEW
Words & Photos by Sourpatch
For truck-owning mountain bikers, tailgate pads are a quintessential piece of gear. Tailgate pads have become one of the most popular and easiest ways to transport mountain bikes, meaning just about every brand that can make one does. Race Face is no exception, and the Race Face T2 is their latest tailgate pad that is compatible with most modern trucks and packs a few neat features. Let’s see how it held up to a wet spring and early summer’s worth of abuse.
The Race Face T2 tailgate pad is available in two sizes, a smaller version for mid-size trucks and a larger version for full-size trucks. The mid-size variant is capable of securing five bikes while the full-size option can hold six bikes. Race Face uses evenly distributed raised bumpers to help keep downtubes in place, as well as traditional downtube straps to help prevent the dreaded bike on bike crime. There are also a pair of raised pads on the outboard side of the T2 to give forks some added cushion against the back of the tailgate.
Instead of using an integrated flap to access the tailgate handle, Race Face uses an adjustable rear panel that can be moved to accommodate and tailgate handle/camera combination. The rear panel that is secured to the inside of the pad with Velcro and stays in place nicely. This exclusive panel was designed to help adapt the pad to more than one makes and model of truck, somethign that was very important to Race Face.
Another unique feature of the Race Face T2 tailgate pad is the Shape Shifter. Six adjustment straps located on the top of the pad allow the T2 to be used on trucks with narrow to wide tailgates like those found on GM or Ford pickups. The straps definitely help the T2 pad conform to any tailgate shape, even those ridiculously curved, fat-lipped tailgates found on new Ford’s and Dodge’s, but they do create six more potential problem spots when it comes to stitching or material failure.
The Race Face T2 Tailgate pad uses similar materials compared to most tailgate pads on the market. PVC Tarpaulin is used on the outside of the pad while the inside is composed entirely of a micro-brushed lining. The T2 is fastened to the tailgate by 4 straps threaded through standard plastic adjusters.
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Installing the Race Face T2 tailgate pad is relatively straight forward…to a degree. I initially just threw the pad on as I’ve always done and synched down the four straps and off I went. In doing so, I realized that the raised downtube “bumpers” didn’t actually contact any of the downtubes. After letting the pad “settle and stretch” for a few days I decided to watch Race Face’s install video. Certainly I’m not the only one who doesn’t read instructions before assembling things, right? After watching the vide I realized I had missed the adjustment strap step of the setup process. After loosening the main straps and messing with the adjustment straps, I was able to get the downtube straps into the correct position on the tailgate, however, the raised downtube bumpers still barely touch several of our test bike’s downtubes. I can appreciate the thought of the bumpers, but I think the design could still use a little more height to come up and around the downtube. Also, as we mentioned, while the adjustable Shape Shifter straps are nice for accommodating different trucks, it increases the number of failure points and as we all know, stitching and straps are usually the first thing to go on tailgate pads.
One of the things I like most about this pad, compared to others I’ve had in the past, is that the T2 is a true, full-width pad. It goes from edge-to-edge of the tailgate, which helps prevent any unnecessary side-to-side sliding with bikes on the pad. The T2 fits 6 pedal bikes, with the downtubes slightly fitting into the dividers. There has been no bike on bike crime thus far, even with my tendencies to “Do it for Dale.” However, when it comes to our eMTB trips, there has been a few scratched bikes and pullovers to readjust since the downtube straps aren’t long enough to wrap around the larger downtubes found on ebikes.
The addition of a large, centralized opening for the tailgate handle/back up camera is a plus, compared to previous iterations and other offerings that use a Velcro-secured flap to access the tailgate. The adjustable rear panel that Race Face uses is better off removed as the velcro tabs that keep in place have the potential to scratch your tailgate. If you have seen comments from purchasers on RaceFaces T2 social posts, the tabs have definitely been blamed for some paint haze by more than a couple consumers.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect tailgate pad since brands are understandably trying to make something that works well on all makes and models of trucks. With that said, The Race Face T2 is a great tailgate pad and one that we would recommend. While it has a lot of thoughtful features like the centralized tailgate handle/backup camera opening and downtube straps, a solid construction and a tried and true design, there are still a couple areas that leave room for improvement. Those areas being a slightly taller downtube bumper design and a way for eMTBs to be secured.
Price: $183.99 (full-size), $171.99 (Mid-size)
Colors: Black, Inferno, Patina
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.
Works as Advertised
Back-up Camera is unobstructed
Install Video Available for the less initiated
Can’t strap down eBikes
Downtube Bumpers need refining
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