The phenomenal growth this brand from the Victorian High Country has achieved in the last five years is a tribute to hard work and a commitment to premium quality products.
Words: Will Shaw
Photos: Andy Rogers, Georgina von Marburg, TBS
Last Christmas I went on a road trip from Newcastle to Tasmania. Over the course of the trip, I saw a phenomenal amount of Shingleback Off Road Bike Racks. After three weeks of seeing Shinglebacks all day every day, it was an easy decision to lock in Shingleback as the second brand featured in this Australian Made series.
Shingleback Off Road was founded by Andrew and Kimberley Taylor in 2016. The phenomenal growth this brand from the Victorian High Country has achieved in the last five years is a tribute to hard work and a commitment to premium quality products.
AMB: Tell us a bit about where the motivation to begin making racks came from, and when you decided to start doing it professionally?
Andrew: 2016 is when it started, and the motivation was the same old story that lots of brands have, which is wanting to make a better product than what’s already out there. The bike racks people were using in those days were horizontally mounted, which doesn’t make sense for a whole variety of reasons, and I thought we could make something better and easier to use.
Initially I was looking into a vertical rack that held the bike by the crown of the fork, but I didn’t like the way it rubbed the crown. From there I moved to the wheel holder system, and I made a whole heap of prototypes in our shed in Beechworth. Production began with a small run out of our shed in early 2017, but we quickly outgrew our capabilities there and moved into a much bigger warehouse in Wodonga.
AMB: What motivated you to pursue a vertically mounted bike rack design?
Andrew: The vertical rack design makes much more sense than a horizontal one, particularly when you’re talking about multiple bikes. The horizontal racks with four bikes on them stick out a long way from the back of the car, and they’re normally quite difficult to load. With a vertical design there’s much less leverage, the bikes don’t stick out as far, and it’s much easier to load.
AMB: Am I right in thinking the Shingleback name comes from the lizard that’s also the brand's logo? Why did you choose that name?
Kimberley: The Shingleback lizard is a native Australian lizard. It’s a no fuss critter that survives in the harshest of conditions, which is similar to our racks. It’s also a unique name that tends to stick in people’s minds.
AMB: Can you tell me about the Cpeng Repq certification your racks have? How is this certification achieved and why is it important?
Andrew: Our new Sport and Boost racks have achieved this certification, which we’re really proud of. It gives the assurance to our customers that we take pride in getting the design right with all our products and having third party certification that our products really do meet the highest engineering standard. For example, the wheel cradle on the new Sport and Boost racks is a new design and they can support 30kg per bike, which is industry leading.
Kimberley: Alongside this style of certification and the high-tech computer programs they use to test our products we put all our products through extreme testing ourselves. Throughout the product development and testing stage we’ll load a rack up with bikes and take it on 4WD tracks we’d never recommend that customers do, but we want to know our racks are up to the task.
AMB: What are the pros and cons of manufacturing in Australia?
Andrew: Since the beginning of the company we’ve taken great pride in manufacturing 100 percent here in Australia, using Australian materials. That’s been a huge positive during Covid when our demand increased dramatically, as we were able to source local materials and weren’t dependent on all the shipping issues other companies and industries have suffered from. Even outside of Covid, having local suppliers means our turnaround time is quick compared to importing materials.
The only con is that things can be a bit more expensive, and the capacity of some suppliers during peak times can increase production timelines, but we’ll always prefer to use quality materials and local suppliers in our products. High quality has always been a huge value for us, the same as supporting local as it all goes around at the end of the day.
AMB: What are your proudest achievements to date with Shingleback?
Andrew: Every time we go somewhere iconic like Thredbo or Bright and see a carpark full of cars with our racks it makes us pretty proud. I get the same feeling at our local trails in Beechworth as well.
Kimberley: Recently a 10-year-old came up to me and called the Shingleback ‘the marriage saver 2021.’ Those kinds of comments where people say the racks have changed their ability to go and ride, for example I’ve had parents say to me that they avoided going for rides with their kids because they didn’t want to pack the bikes up, but now they love to get out there.
We’ve also been sponsoring a local gravity girls program in collaboration with the Beechworth Chain Gang MTB club (BCG) and The Fastline Bikademy, which has grown and is great to be a part of. The initiative was originally designed by the BCG, and with our support they were able to double the program, with over 80 women participating. I love seeing the WhatsApp chat for the group every day, as people are always keen to go riding and it’s a great community.
Andrew: Our partnership with AusCycling Australia and Ride Nation Australia are really exciting, being chosen as our peak body's vertical rack of choice is something we are very proud of.
AMB: What can people look forward to from Shingleback?
Andrew: Continued focus on being the innovators and market leaders who remain focused on quality and safety. We’re super excited about the new Sport and Boost racks, which will have shipped to customers by the time this magazine is published. The new design holds the bikes better, and we’re really pleased with the 30kg limit for each cradle given the growth of eBikes. This weight rating is the highest rated vertical bike rack.
Kimberley: There are many more products in the pipeline, and we’re spending a lot more time on the legal side of our products these days to protect our designs with patents. Like Andrew I’m really excited about the Sport and Boost racks, as they’re going to let even more people get out riding with their family, and particularly help people with loading eBikes. We’re also always taking on board feedback from our customers and from our own testing.
AMB: The last few years has seen you provide trailers and racks for some big commercial operators such as Thredbo, Maydena, Blue Dirt, Premium MTB transfers in Derby, how do the needs of these businesses differ from your everyday consumer and are these custom solutions something we’ll see more of from Shingleback in future?
Andrew: Our trailers and racks have been going well. It’s been great to see these big destinations and companies trust us with their shuttle needs. For example, Blue Dirt needs a product that’s robust and can handle corrugated shuttle roads every day, which is brutal on the trailers. They used to have to weld up cracks on their old trailers all the time, but with our designs they haven’t had any structural issues. Thredbo, Maydena, and Premium MTB transfers in Derby all trust our racks behind buggies which have been operating successfully in brutal conditions for the past few years. I put lots of time and thought into the additional needs of these trailers and racks and their engineering.
Kimberley: Something that’s really important with our trailers is the range of clientele that shuttle companies have. Our trailers are designed so that it’s not as important what order the bikes are placed in, which is something that can be tricky with other styles of trailer. They’re also designed so people can load their own bikes, which means the shuttle operator isn’t loading a whole trailer load of bikes all day every day.
AMB: Is having stockists in every state important to you so that customers can touch and feel the product?
Kimberley: We’ve always wanted potential customers to be able to see and feel the product prior to purchasing. We only partner with stockists who share the same passion as us for quality products that are built to last. Another benefit of the stockists is that they can provide additional services such as fitting the rack to the vehicle and demonstrating how to load the bikes.
Read our Shingleback Sport Rack Review
Read our Shingleback Boost Rack Review