When you are wanting to transport bikes while driving your truck, the last thing you want is to toss them in the truck’s bed and have them flying around here and there.
If this happens, your truck and the bikes will be damaged. To prevent this, you may be considering the use of tailgate pads. Are they safe for bikes? Let’s find out!
Are tailgate pads safe for bikes?
Based on opinions from experts as well as bike enthusiasts we know, tailgate pads are very safe to use for transporting bikes.
If you want to transport multiple bikes at the same time, tailgate pads are a great accessory to get for your truck.
Able to safely secure up to six bikes at one time, tailgate pads are worth having because the heavy padding most have on them helps to cushion the bikes and your truck, ensuring nothing gets dented or dinged.
If you are considering adding tailgate pads to your truck but think it will be hard to find one that fits your truck’s tailgate, this won’t be a problem.
Rather than making tailgate pads to fit only specific models of trucks, manufacturers create tailgate pads that have a universal fit, making them easy to install while taking the guesswork out of your purchase!
Tailgate pads are portable, making them very easy to transfer from one vehicle to another if needed.
As to any drawbacks they may have, the most common one you may experience is that the tailgate pad’s straps may begin to deteriorate over time, which could result in it falling off the tailgate once the bikes are loaded and you start driving down the road.
However, this is a very infrequent occurrence, and should not deter you from purchasing a tailgate pad for your truck.
Tips for safely using a tailgate pad
Once you decide you want to use a tailgate pad on your truck, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to ensure it is used safely for the bikes you are transporting.
First, always buy a tailgate pad that is made of high-quality materials. This is crucial since having several bikes on your truck’s tailgate can become quite a heavy load. From the outer padding materials to the straps, always make sure it is scratch-proof and weather-resistant. The best tailgate pads are made of heavy-duty vinyl or PVC, or perhaps heavy-duty nylon material.
Next, keep your tailgate pad as clean as possible. This will prevent it from scratching bike frames as well as your truck and will help to prolong its longevity. Though padding can vary from one tailgate pad to another, we suggest you buy one that has as much padding as possible.
Finally, to safely use your tailgate pad, we recommend you buy one that emphasizes security features, such as being lockable!
By having a tailgate pad you can lock on to your tailgate, you minimize the risks of it being stolen, while also making sure it will have a very secure fit on your tailgate.
Unfortunately, tailgate pads can be easy targets for thieves, who can often make off with the pad as well as the bikes it was carrying.
How to prevent your tailgate pad from being stolen
As you just read above, tailgate pads are targeted by thieves quite often. If you want to prevent your tailgate pad from being stolen, keep the following tips in mind.
Just as we noted earlier, always try to use a tailgate pad that locks on to your truck’s tailgate. Since thieves only like things they can get very quickly, having a tailgate pad that is locked to your tailgate will have a thief looking elsewhere for something to steal.
Another safety measure you can take to prevent your tailgate pad from being stolen is to not leave it unsupervised, especially if it is unlocked and still contains your bikes.
If you are in an unfamiliar place and do this, there is always the chance that when you come back to your truck, the tailgate pad and your bikes will be gone.
When deciding which tailgate pad to buy, purchasing ones that are extremely heavy-duty will also decrease the chances yours will be stolen.
Since most heavy-duty tailgate pads are lockable, using this type of tailgate pad combined with some common sense along the way will help prevent your items from being stolen.
Do tailgate pads scratch the paint?
Though we have not encountered this ourselves, we have heard of many instances where tailgate pads have scratched the paint of both the truck and the bikes.
However, this is not a common happening, so don’t let this deter you from buying a tailgate pad for your truck.
Most of the time, a tailgate pad that scratches a truck’s paint does so when it has not been cleaned on a regular basis. When the tailgate pad is left to get dirty and have dirt get trapped in it, scratched paint is almost inevitable. If you use your tailgate pad on a regular basis, be sure it gets cleaned after each trip.
In addition, we suggest you only use a tailgate pad that fits snugly and securely to your truck’s tailgate. If you don’t and your tailgate pad moves around while it has even one bike on it, this can result in significant scratching of your truck’s paint.
To prevent this, we recommend you buy a tailgate pad that is of high quality, contains very thick padding, and is made so that it can be locked to your tailgate.
What can be used in place of a tailgate pad?
Should you not have a tailgate pad for your truck or believe you may not need one, there are alternatives you can use when transporting bikes with your truck.
The ones used most often include large cardboard boxes, regular bath towels, beach towels, and blankets.
However, none of these can ultimately do as well at keeping your bikes secure during transport as a tailgate pad.
A better alternative would be to use a bike rack. I’ve had a Thule back rack (shown below) for years, and love the ease of use that it provides!
A premium, platform hitch bike rack delivering maximum strength, security and user-friendliness for 2-4 bikes. I've had this for years and love how well it has performed and held up over time!
Do tailgate pad buckles or straps break?
If you buy a tailgate pad that is well-made from such materials as vinyl or PVC, chances are it will last you for many years, even if you use it on a regular basis.
However, like anything else that is used frequently and exposed to the elements, the buckles and straps on your tailgate pad will start to deteriorate, eventually breaking.
Along with this happening due to prolonged usage, it can also happen if you regularly overload your tailgate pad. Therefore, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the maximum weight allowed for your tailgate pad.
How much do tailgate pads cost?
To purchase a tailgate pad that is made of top-quality materials, is lockable, and likely will last you for many years, we have found you will need to spend between $125-$150 to get what you want.
If you are on a tight budget, you can find lesser-quality tailgate pads available for as little as $60-$70, especially from online retailers. However, many of these tailgate pads come with less padding, are not lockable, and will probably have straps and buckles that will give out much sooner than you prefer.
Should you and your family enjoy taking your bikes to parks, vacation destinations, and other places to ride, a tailgate pad can be a smart purchase.
By getting one that is made to last and offers as much security as possible, transporting your bikes will be easier than you anticipated!