Words: Ben Morrison                                                                               Photos: Nick Waygood

Shingleback Off Road make some very tidy and solid racks right here in Australia. I had one of their Vertical Bike Racks sent up to review, and from the moment it arrived I knew the team at Shingleback meant business and this was going to be one solid bit of kit. As the delivery driver leant the heavy rack against my door, I was momentarily stuck inside. After a scene out of Mission Impossible I was out of the house and bear hugging the box into the garage ready to assemble some Aussie engineering brilliance.

The rack does take a little bit of setting up. Once you open the box lay all your parts out (you will need about the same amount of space a car takes up) perhaps also grab your wheelie bin and lay it on its side, this was a great tip we found in the instructions to help with assembly. You may have guessed already this rack is heavy, but with that comes stiffness and Shingleback make perhaps one of the stiffest bike racks I have ever used to date – with just about no scary wobbly bikes seen in the rear vision mirror.

Your rack (should you follow the instructions) will be built in 15-20 minutes and ready to install. Perhaps one of the best reasons to look at a Shingleback rack is the fact that is takes up so little space being a vertical style rack. This means your car is not twice the size it normally is, or if you’re using a 4X4 you can still get up a lot of things when doing shuttles even with 5 Downhill Bikes on the the back.

So it's heavy that means its stiff, right? Well it is plenty stiff on the highway and around town but what about off road doing shuttles – these can be the undoing of some racks that are suited to sealed-road pursuits. In order to test this the Team at Mercedes Benz offered me the use of one of their new X-Class dual cab utes and said “go as off road as you like”. Once installed something that was really nice is the fact that due to this rack being a single bar coming out of your tow bar hitch, if you have parking sensors they do not go off until you have bikes installed. This was also the case on a VW Amarok.

When installing your rack there is a surprising amount of fine tuning you can make, including the distance from the rear of your car and the angle of the rack. You are also able to lay the rack completely flat (with bikes removed) if you need to get into a ute tray, open the back of a SUV or boot of a station wagon. It would stand to reason that the closer in you have the rack the stiffer it is due to the leverage being put on the rack once full loaded up. This did ring somewhat true and even though during some half decent off road use where the rack did hit the ground several times (sorry) it didn’t bounce around that much at all. In fact it was only adjusted closer in order to allow for better ground clearance. Please remember this rack is as wide as your car and on some angles the outside bikes rear wheel may touch the ground before any other parts of your rack or car depending on the terrain you’re on.

As recommended we loaded bikes left to right which makes unloading them easier also. This is very straight forward. Pop your bike on its back wheel and lift it up so the front wheel slips into the highest mount on the rack. Hot tip; put your knee under your seat and use your leg to help lift the bike, it’s much easier and will save your back lifting Downhill and eMTBs. The only real gripe with the Shingleback rack is that the first few times you load it into the first space on the left you may let the bike swing into the rear wheel mount and hit your derailleur as the mount is offset. You will only do this a few times before it’s natural to move the rear wheel to avoid this.

Both on and off road the Shingleback was impressively stiff and flex free offering great peace of mind to the driver, also it takes up much less room in traffic and pub car parks due to its vertical style mounting. It is also fast to load and unload if you are doing shuttle runs, especially once all the riders have loaded their bikes a couple of times and are familiar with the rack.

Shingleback also offer some great accessories including a fully powered number plate board with both brake and indicator lights if the supplied alloy number plate mount does not meet your state's road rules. This is only $150.00 more when you buy your rack and likely well less than a fine. Other accessories are a swing arm style hitch that moves the entire rack out of the way of the rear of your vehicle while fully loaded at $899 and a trolley (that could also mean your Shingleback can be used as a home bike rack) coming in at $369.00.

All in all at $1299.00 including shipping for the 5-bike model we tested, the Shingleback rack is not cheap but when you look at what is on the market for around the same price it is just better value. Compact, strong, stiff and Australian made are some reasons you should be checking out the Shingleback rack. It is would be the most secure and fastest way to move up to five bikes that I have used.
RRP: $1299

From: shinglebackrackoffroad.com.au

–      Super solid construction
–      Easy to mount and fit bikes
–      Options for light boards

–      A big investment