There are about as many ways to get your bike to the trails as there are types of bike to choose from. Both of these are very good things, and just like choosing the right bike for you is important, so is choosing a bike rack that suits you, your bikes, and your intended use.


AMB's guide to bike racks on your car

Shingleback Off Road are an Australian manufacturer of vertical bike racks, we tested the 5 bike model in 2019 and had a 4 bike model on hand with a Swingarm adaptor for our Snowies Roadie in November 2020. Anyone who has used the racks has been thoroughly impressed with the rock solid construction of the racks, and the stable attachment of the rack to your vehicle. With deep wheel holders and bungy cords, the bike attachments couldn't be simpler, but they have also proven to be not just reliable, but very easy to use and fast to load.

Vertical bike racks are popular given they can hold so many bikes, but that does come at a cost, they aren't cheap. There is a lot of material and with up to 6 bikes, a lot of load. Thorough design and engineering plus high-quality materials and construction adds up, and the standard vertical racks start at $1190. With bikes protruding from your vehicle, they also take up a bit of real estate on the road, at the trail head, and when stopping at the shops. And then you need to store the rack as well. If you live to ride and have a bunch of family members or mates to cart around – this all blurs into the background as the vertical racks are so fast to load and unload, and cannot be beat when it comes to how many bikes you can carry. There is no denying that they are a long way off the ground to load, which can be compounded by riders of shorter stature, 4WD vehicles, 4WDs with a lift kit, and heavy bikes such as an eMTB, downhill or other gravity bike. Loading up your bike onto a traditional vertical bike rack could be impossible if you have a big travel eMTB, you're under 170cm tall and like to get around in a lifted off road vehicle.

All about the Shingleback 2B90

The new Shingleback 2B90 solves a whole lot of these problems, by loading bikes parallel to the bumper. This keeps the distance the bikes protrude out from the car to an absolute minimum, and the total weight of the rack is just 21kg.

Like all the other Shingleback racks, the 2B90 is constructed of solid materials right here in Australia. The box comes with the base, the bolts, and the top wheel hook mounts. You can mount an accessory plate right on if you don't think you need a light board. This comes down to how visible your lights are when bikes are loaded. And just a reminder, it's not based on your opinion, but the opinion of the officer who has pulled you over!

You do put the rack together yourself from the few pieces, which does mean you set it up for your vehicle and bikes. But it also gives you a sense of the quality of construction – this is a heavy duty rack that you will have for years.

You can mount the rack between 300-700mm from the tow bar, letting you customise the clearance for tailgates and boot opening. There are three positions to lock the rack in, either close to your vehicle, upright, or a little out. And then you can let it swing down further to assist with loading and unloading. If you mount it inboard the overhang is reduced even more – perfect for vehicles that are already long – or fitting better into parking spaces.

The front wheels of each bike are held in a cradle and secured by a marine grade bungy cord, with rear wheel hooks used on the vertical member. You can have these offset, but putting them on the same side helps keep the light board accessory flush. There are options to place them inboard to keep bikes more towards the centre, and at different heights for longer or shorter wheelbases. In general, the whole rack is a little like a Mecanno set, as there are a number of ways to build the rack up to make it suit your vehicle and bikes.

In use, the option to lower the rack down makes loading any bike easier, as it puts the wheel holders in an upright position, with the rack's fitted position holding them on an angle. Loading gravel bikes, trail bikes and XC bikes was obviously easier with the rack down, and the outer most position means that even on a dedicated 4WD, you barely need to lift the rear wheel to mount the bike. So when loading an eMTB (which is the main design of the 2B90) it makes a huge difference using the rack's function to lower down. Pushing the rack back up to the height to secure it with 50kg+ of eMTB aboard still takes some effort, although nothing like lifting just one bike onto a typical vertical rack. The 2B90 really is a very useful way to transport a couple of eMTBs in a rock solid rack.

Like the other Shingleback racks, the light board is an accessory. It's neat, and manufactured here in Australia. It does need to be fitted and removed from the rear wheels of your bikes, and fitting it to one bike doesn't really work without some extra fettling. But – you're unlikely to have your vehicles lights obscured with just one bike. Having such a neat rack and then strapping on an accessory board seems a bit strange, but if it was permanently mounted anywhere it would just get in the way loading and unloading. If you do want to use the 2B90 for 4WD routes and off road shuttles, it is easy to remove the light board as one less thing to damage, and to keep clearance at a maximum.

On the road

Shingleback rate the 2B90 for two 30kg bikes, and they back the rack up with a 10 year guarantee on the welding, build quality and the materials – if you use it correctly. They also said that all covers off road use as well. The 2B90 is a rock solid rack, and anytime I glanced in the rear view mirror, I didn't see bikes wobbling around. As the rack has no frame contact, bikes suffered no scrapes or bumps either.

My take on the rack lowering down is that while it makes loading a heavy bike, like an eMTB, easier than a traditional vertical bike rack, it is not the easiest option out there. In that regard, a tray based rack with a ramp wins. And that's the type of rack I bought for my parents to transport their e-bikes. But their e-bikes don't have long wheel bases that protrude beyond the width of a vehicle, and they don't venture off road to ride.

Instead, the 2B90 keeps your bikes so they barely protrude beyond the side of your vehicle, the overhang is also kept to a minimum, the ground clearance is huge if you're reversing down steeper grades or driving off road to access trails, and the rack is the easiest way I have been able to mount a bike vertically. It plays happily with a wide range of wheel and frame sizes, and you'll probably hold onto it for longer than the car you attach it to.

Final thoughts

While Shingleback have made the 2B90 to be a 2-bike rack suited to eMTB use, I think the people who will find this rack attractive goes well beyond just eMTB owners. This rock solid rack is compact, easy to load, has heps of ground clearance, Australian made, and will likely last well beyond it's 10 year guarantee period.

That's not to say there aren't downsides. At $1090 it's not cheap, especially when you add the $220 light board. This pricing is about right for other solid racks with similar ratings, like the Thule T2 Pro XT, although it still doesn't have quite the same load limit as the 2B90. The 2B90 isn't an easy on, easy off rack. You will need to get the spanner out, so it suits someone who uses the rack pretty often. Each state has different laws about keeping attachments like bike racks on your car when unloaded, so you might want to look them up. And yeah you could just keep one bike on there – but you'll need to secure it. There is no locking function with the 2B90 so play it smart when leaving a bike or two on there and you aren't around.

The 2B90 suits any mountain biker who wants a burly rack to carry one or two bikes, whether or not they are eMTBs or not. And if you do have two eMTBs to cart around, and you want a rack to go the distance and have great ground clearance, I can't think of a better rack on the market right now.

RRP: $1090

From: shinglebackoffroad.com.au

Hits:

No frame contact and rock solid bike support

Lots of ground clearance for off road use

Easy vertical bike loading

Huge load limit

Australian made, may survive a nuclear blast

 

Misses:

Still gotta lift

2 bike maximum storage

No built in locking option