SWITCHBACK TAILGATE PAD
Riders with a passion for gravity know firsthand that tailgate pads are one of the least expensive and easiest ways to turn a regular pickup truck into an efficient bike hauler. For the most part, these pads are nothing more than glorified blankets with straps securing them to a truck’s tailgate, so companies must be creative to make their truck pads stand out. While other companies have looked to find ways to improve upon the tailgate pad by adding straps or blocks that prevent bikes from sliding around, Switchback took a different approach.
The idea for the Switchback tailgate pad emerged when a group of Colorado mountain bikers regrouped at their trucks after a long day on the trails. The riders, looking for comfortable places to sit, dropped the tailgates on their trucks and began to chat about their epic ride. One rider mentioned to the others that his truck’s tailgate would be much more comfortable if it had a back-rest, thus the Switchback pad was born.
The Switchback offers features we’ve come to expect from tail-gate pads, but also comes with a hidden surprise. It’s constructed from a weather- proof material and is 54 inches wide so it can fit small and mid-sized trucks. The pad has Velcro straps that provide access to a truck’s tailgate latch and daisy-chain-style straps so riders can better secure their bikes if they choose. The main feature that sets the Switchback apart from other tail-gate pads is its ability to transform into a comfortable bench. With the tailgate down, simply unstrap the Velcro flap at the top of the pad and flip the backrest towards the truck. Three straps make it possible to adjust the angle of the backrest. Folding the Switchback up into a regular tailgate pad and loading up bikes can be done in under a minute. Switchback pads can be purchased at their website, www.switchbackpads.com, for $150.
We received our Switchback pad and followed the detailed instructions found on the company’s website. Our vehicle of choice, a staffer’s Toyota Tacoma, was a perfect match for the pad. Switchbacks are currently only available for small and mid-sized trucks, so riders with full-sized trucks are unfortunately out of luck. The pad fit our vehicle well, allowing easy access to our tailgate latch, but the lack of blocks to prevent our bikes from sliding off the sides of our tailgate made us a little nervous. Our nerves were quickly calmed after we took our bikes for a long drive to the trails. Thanks to the care- ful positioning of our pedals, using them like a kickstand, our bikes didn’t move at all. The pad itself is similar to many others, but it stands out because it can transform into a comfortable seat with an adjustable backrest, perfect for changing out of your riding shoes or just relaxing after a fun ride. The only problem was that when we sat down and adjusted our tailgate seat just the way we liked it, we found it hard to find the motivation to get back up. If you’re the kind of rider who likes to chill out at your local trailhead, then the Switchback is the perfect tailgate pad for you.
• Turns a truck’s tailgate into a comfortable bench • Easy to install
• Fit our test vehicle well
• Lacks blocks that prevent bikes from sliding off the sides
• Backrest needs to be leaned back to stay upright