The Best Mountain Bike Tailgate Pads & Buyers Guide

Protect your bikes, and your truck, on your way to and from the trailhead with a Tailgate Pad

Are you looking for a tailgate pad for your truck and not sure which one to buy? This buyer’s guide should help.

Tailgate pads are not complex devices. In fact, many people just use a moving blanket or some other rudimentary padding when loading bikes on the tailgate of a truck.

But as bikes get more expensive, trips get longer, and roads get rougher, there is something to be said for using the right tool for the job.

Better to find a worry-free solution that can handle all roads and weather conditions.

What is a tailgate pad?

A tailgate pad is used on a pickup truck tailgate to prevent damage to the truck when mountain bikers are shuttling bikes and people up a mountain to the trailhead.

When the road gets rough it’s very easy to damage bikes when they shift positions and rub on each other.

They are made with foam wrapped in heavy-duty nylon with straps and velcro to hold it all together.

Why you need a tailgate pad

The best way to protect your bike and your truck is to use one of these Tailgate pads.

You need a tailgate pad to save yourself from damage to your bikes and to your truck.

What happens when you don’t use a tailgate pad?

Not using a tailgate pad can have some pretty disappointing consequences.

For starters, if you just throw your bikes into the back bed of the truck, you’re asking for problems. Bikes that bounce around on the way up the side of a mountain are at serious risk for scratches and damages.

Second, bikes that aren’t strapped down will also damage your truck in the form of dents and scratches to the paint. If you don’t care about your truck, then at least think about your bike.

Third, a tailgate pad helps you keep all the bikes you are shuttling up the mountain organized and safe as you bounce up to the trailhead.

Examples of bike damage that can occur

Even with a tailgate pad, damage can occur from the bouncing and rubbing that goes on.

This rider suggested using pool noodles on the bike frame to add even more protection.

Example of damage to trucks from not using a tailgate pad

You can clearly see the impact of not having any protection on your tailgate.

The tailgate is dented and scratched up from only a few rides.

How to install a tailgate pad

Tailgate pad installation is pretty simple and straightforward. Each product is a little different but the process is generally the same.

Start by unhinging the tailgate. Slide the straps underneath the bottom and then shut the tailgate. Center your tailgate pad and tighten the straps so they are snug and secure.

Every tailgate is a little different, and some might not allow for the straps to easily move through when shut, requiring a propped open position when installing.

The frame straps are easy to adjust and use, making it easy to secure a wide variety of bikes by simply adjusting the Velcro straps.

Once you become more familiar with your tailgate pad, installation and removal gets faster and easier. It should take less than five minutes and require no tools for the job. Most people that use their vehicle for other things than just mountain biking remove and re-install the pad pretty regularly throughout the season.

Tailgate pad Maintenance & Other Considerations

One note of caution I don’t see mentioned a lot with this transport system:

Dust/dirt WILL AND DOES act as an abrasive. One of my bikes looks like it literally sat on a piece of 600 grit sandpaper and is worn all the way down to pure aluminum.

Tailgate pads are super handy for shorter drives to the local trailhead, but I don’t like carrying my bikes that way on long stretches of highway, etc.

Any pad will cause some abrasion on the downtube. If you care about that, wipe off the downtube before placing the bike on the pad, and use a piece of frame saver tape where the downtube touches the pad.

Who makes tailgate pads?

There are 15 brands that sell tailgate pads for mountain biking. Here are the best tailgate pads.

Dakine Tailgate Pads

DAKINE was founded in Hawaii in 1979 and is located at the base of Mt. Hood in Hood River, Oregon. DAKINE builds tailgate pads but also builds backpacks, travel bags, accessories, outerwear and clothing for people who love to surf, snowboard, skateboard, mountain bike, ski, windsurf, kiteboard and travel.

DAKINE tailgate pads protect your bikes, and your truck from dents, dings and other possible damage on your way to and from the trailhead. They have been making tailgate pads for many years and their products are not only some of the most popular but also one of the best-designed tailgate pads.

The DAKINE pads protect the tailgate of your truck with thick padding and hook-and-loop straps that go across the top to keep each bike in the right position on your truck’s tailgate.

Below you will find both DAKINE mountain biking and surfing tailgate pads in different sizes starting with mountain biking pads.

DAKINE Pick-Up Pad Black, L

  • Material: [black] 1000D polyester, UV and weather-resistant coating, [prints] 600D polyester
  • Compatibility: [large] full size trucks, mid size trucks
  • Dimensions: [large] 62in wide [small] 54in wide
  • Bike Capacity: [large] 7, [small] 5
  • Part Number: 10001205

Yakima Tailgate pads

About Yakima the Company – Regardless of your destination or adventure, Yakima helps get you, your friends and all your gear there, allowing you to focus on what really matters—creating memories to last a lifetime.

At Yakima we believe in connecting you, your friends, family and all your favorite gear to your desired destination or activity. Doesn’t matter if you are headed out for camping, biking, fishing, to the cabin for the weekend or taking the family on a holiday road trip, Yakima believes that any life adventure, regardless of the destination, creates shared experiences and memories for you, your family and friends. When the road winds back home, the memories and connections with friends and family remain long after the trip is over. Yakima will handle all your gear, freeing up car space, so you can Take More Friends.


Yakima Crashpad Truck Bed Pad

  • Load your bike hassle free on your tailgate
  • High density foam and ballistic nylon construction
  • Heavy duty foam conforms easily to most tailgate shapes and provides superior fit
  • Heavy-duty padding to protect your bike and truck
  • Built-in tailgate handle access Fits a wide range of tailgate sizes

RaceFace Tailgate Pads


Race Face Tailgate Pad

  • Micro-brushed inner lining protects your tailgate from rub and wear marks
  • Raised bumpers facing into the truck box seat most frames snuggly preventing bikes from coming into contact while en route
  • Additional raised square pads along the outer tailgate offer the additional security of holding forks in place
  • When the shuttle gets steep and rowdy, secure frames down with a Velcro-backed webbing loop and strap system

Thule Tailgate Pads


Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad

  • Ultra durable heavy duty vinyl with foam padding protects both bike and truck tailgate
  • Integrated Knock-BlocksTM prevent bikes from sliding off edge of tailgate causing damage to the vehicle and or bike
  • Handle HoodTM allows for convenient access to tailgate handle without pad removal
  • Strap anchors provide secure tie down points for bikes and other loads
  • Sturdy nylon straps to keep pad securely attached to tailgate

Evoc Tailgate Pads

Evoc Pickup Tailgate Shuttling Bike Pad

  • Padding is cut-resistant, water resistant and UV-stable
  • Non-slip protection (padded). Quick-access tailgate release
  • Improved rear view camera compatibility
  • Fleece lining on truck side of the pad, won’t damage paint
  • mid-size truck (ML)

Fox Racing Tailgate Pads

Fox Racing Protective Tailgate Cover

  • Compatibility: Small: fits most mid-sized trucks, Large: fits most full-sized trucks
  • Dimensions: Small, width 54 in, Large, width 62 in
  • Bike Capacity: Small, frame anchor straps: 5, Large, frame anchor straps: 6
  • Part Number: Small 16817, Large 15694
  • Recommended Use: travel, mountain biking

Softride Tailgate Pads


Softride Shuttle Pad

  • Carries up to six bikes and works with most bike styles
  • Includes six Softwraps and daisy chain for securing bikes to rail
  • Includes four straps for securing protective pad to tailgate
  • Velcro Access flap allows access to tailgate release while pad is attached
  • One-year limited warranty

Surf To Summit Tailgate Pad


Surf To Summit Tailgate Pad, Truck Tailgate Pad, Pickup Tailgate Cushion, Tailgate Pad For Bikes, Tailgate Pad For Surf Boards (Large)

  • Heavy duty 600 Denier Fabric with foam padding to protect truck tailgate
  • Soft Felt on the underside of tailgate pad
  • Heavy duty webbing through out to keep pad securely attached to tailgate
  • Easy access flap allows for convenient access to tailgate handle
  • Strap anchors provide secure tie down points for bikes and other items

Swagman Tailgate Pads


Swagman Bicycle Carriers Tailwhip Tailgate Pad

  • Includes firm high density foam to protect your bike and vehicle
  • Made from waterproof and ballistic tarpaulin
  • Strategically placed daisy chains allow for versatile bike placement
  • Full size carries up to 5 bikes and includes 4 Velcro straps to secure your bike to the pad
  • Mid size carries up to 4 bikes and includes 3 Velcro straps to secure your bike to the pad

Zydek Tailgate Pads


Zydek Bike Rack / Tailgate Pad / Mountain Bike Pad / Crash Pad / Bike Rack / Tailgate Mountain Bike Pad

  • EASY TO LOAD: Throw your bikes over your tailgate bike rack and you are ready to go! These pads will fit 1-6 bikes depending on a midsize or full size truck tailgate pad.
  • SCRATCH FREE: The soft inner lining of the tailgate pad with NOT scratch your truck tailgate! 2 foam blocks on the outside will hold your bikes from tipping off to the side of the truck!
  • DURABLE: Strong nylon top coat and a soft inner liner provide for an all around high quality truck tailgate pad!
  • 3 STRAPS: 3 simple tie down straps tie to the back of the truck tailgate securing the pad tightly to protect and haul your bikes!
  • ACCESS FLAP: Easily access your tailgate hitch handle with the velcro access flap in the center of the tailgate pad!

NashbarTailgate Pads

Nashbar Gatekeeper Tailgate Truck Pad

  • Simple solution to transport bikes via pickup
  • Tough polyester construction with ¾” thick polyethylene foam
  • Pad secures to tailgate via nylon straps
  • Velcro flap provides access to pickup’s tailgate handle
  • Medium size provides 5 individual anchor straps to transport up to 5 bikes

Reese Explore Tailgate Pad


Reese Explore 1393600 54″ Tailgate Pad

  • This 54 inch pad is constructed with 1 inch thick EPE foam for optimal cushion
  • Rainproof tarpaulin material
  • Three straps wrap around tailgate and secure with three buckles
  • Additional hook and loop straps secure items to mat
  • Flap offers tailgate handle access