Arkel Small Handlebar Bag when I reviewed it; the bag was superbly made, built to last and had some innovative features such as the fully waterproofed main compartment. In this review I take a look at another of my pieces of Arkel touring luggage: the rack-top Tailrider bag.
Rack-top trunk bags like the Tailrider bag may seen unnecessary to some tourers... “why not just strap a waterproof roll-top bag to your rack?” That’s the attitude I took on my France and Spain trip, and came away from it much wiser. Roll-top bags are fine if you are just storing one thing in them, but when you want to store many small items in them they become a bottomless cavern. With minimal organisational compartments in your typical touring panniers, you often want to keep the smaller, easy to grab items in your rack-top bag. Organisation is therefore crucial.
The Tailrider is designed with organisation in mind. Flip open the pelican-like lid and you reveal a padded main compartment with mesh pockets down the side to keep small items in; there is also a moveable divider to hold larger items securely. Then on the outside of the pack there are two zipped pockets; ideal for tools and similar objects. If you want to know where your kit it and make it easy to grab in an instant, the Tailrider is a HUGE improvement over using a roll-top bag as a rack bag.
Even with the waterproof zip and the water-resistant Cordura, the bag gains added protection from the elements with the ultra high-vis yellow rain cover that pulls out from the front of the bag. There is certainly no risk of not seeing the bag when the cover is on, and even when it isn't, the reflective strips on the sides, and the light clip on the rear will provide plenty of scope for making sure you’re seen.
The bag attaches to the rack using four strong Velcro straps; these seem to hold the pack securely, and although they are not quite as quick as some of the “slide-on-slide-off” rack pack designs that I've seen from other manufacturers, it does mean that you can transfer it between bikes easily and it saves a significant amount of weight.
Quite simply, this a very well designed bit of kit. The materials are as good as they come, the streamlined shape looks good whilst also being functional, and the attention to detail is clear with small features such as the rain cover and waterproof zip. I've been using the bag for commuting and will certainly be taking it on my next touring trip. It's big enough to take all the small essentials that would get lost in big deep panniers, and if you are a bit of an organiser like me, it provides the perfect way to carry your "quick to grab" kit.
The Tailrider retails for £70 in the UK from arkelpanniers.co.uk