Cannondale Clearance Sale on now!
December 30, 2021
How are two of the biggest players in the super hot vertical bike rack market here in Australia stacking up? Whose product is better? After over a year of selling, building, installing, using, repairing, and storing these racks (from both brands), I have some pretty solid experience to share that will hopefully help you decide which is for you and what to look for.
Both of these racks are for 50mm receivers, found on most Utes and SUVs. A hitch can be easy to install on most cars for $600-$2000, depending on the car and installer. Both brand racks come in the most popular 5-bike configuration, but also in 4-bike and 6-Bike versions. The garage stands from both companies are available for additional purchase, which allows for easy storage when not in use, but also double as a way to store your bikes when not in use - a super handy aftermarket item to have to keep the garage tidy.
1. Mounting and dismounting from vehicle
Hands down, SingleTrail has the upper hand here. A single bolt on the bottom side of the rack tightens an Anti-Wobble device inside the receiver bar that wedges the rack inside the receiver - stiff and fast - and even comes with a tool to do it. It also comes with a safety pin that quickly pops through the hitch and a flip pin to hold it in place. I've found that this system is super solid when driving offroad, with bikes loaded.
The Shingleback mounts loosely inside the hitch and requires a separate plate and Bunnings-style U-bolt configuration to hold it in place, and does NOT come with a bolt or safety pin for the hole in the hitch. So off to Bunnings you go, to find one that works. A bolt with a nut definitely works better than a safety pin and helps stabilise the rack in the hitch. While loaded, there is a lot of leverage on this area, so to keep it from rocking back & forth, three different bolts need to be tightened. Takes a lot of time and still is hard to keep solid, especially if driving offroad.
Speedy installation, solid on the car... Advantage SingleTrail
2. Loading and unloading bikes
At first, the easily recognizably orange, and speedy bungee cords over the front and back wheel of each bike on the Shingleback seemed pretty cool. Hard to improve on that. After having a bike bounce halfway out of the front wheel loop when driving offroad doing shuttles, we found it had a slight weakness and for a careless driver there might be some bike bangup or unintentional eject. Then we tried the Singletrail... The patented single loop over the pedal/pull to tighten is effective and impossible for a bike to eject or bounce up even 1cm once tightened by hand.
Both racks load and unload five bikes in a minute or so, so speed is a huge advantage over any other style rack, but a slight advantage to Singletrail in this department. In security, the Shingleback has a bit to improve, their bikes can come loose if you hit a big bump.
3. Weight and storing
The Shingleback 5-bike Classic weighs 27kg, while the same rack in Singletrail comes in at a slightly hefty 40kg. Taking the lighter Shingleback on and off the car is a pretty solid one-person job and doable, but I can't say the same for the Singletrail; it's definitely a two-person job. The awkward shapes of these racks make the garage stand option a must-have. But of course, on the car, the weight is of little consequence.
Advantage: Shingleback for the one vs two person job of installation
4. Tilt feature
Both racks have a solid all-the-way-down tilt feature. The tilt on the SingleTrail is easy to use, just step on the small tab and pull down to get access to the back of your vehicle. The mechanism is quite a bit more sophisticated and sturdy vs the Shingleback's single bolt pivot. The Shingleback rubs off the powdercoating when rocking it up and down, leaving the surface to rust. Both have three positions; slightly forward, straight up, and leaning slightly back. This is helpful when trying to clear a spare tyre (lean back) or when there is extra space between the car and rack (lean forward).
Advantage to SingleTrail in this department - robust and no rust
Shingleback doesn't provide info on the steel quality, but the black powdercoating is attractive in person. The rust on the rubbing tilt join area was a concern for the two units I used and the hardware and U-bolt anti-sway plate is pretty agricultural in it's off-the-Bunning's-shelf feel.
SingleTrail uses zinc-coated, heavier-duty steel. One of their promo videos has the bikes loaded, with riders hanging on their bikes to prove the quality. So no worries about your nice bikes on these puppies. The touch and feel of using one of these definitely gives the impression of higher workmanship and engineering.
Advantage: SingleTrail - touch & feel is impressive.
Singletrail is placed at the premium end of the market, with the 5-bike rack coming in at $1949 (at the time of this post) and Shingleback offers three different models to compete - 5-bike Classic coming in at $1469, the Sport at $2100, and the Boost for $2600. It's difficult to make a direct comparison between any two models, so weight capacity seems to be the best way to separate them out - the Singletrail holds 25kg per bike, the Classic Shingleback holds 23kg/bike and the Sport and boost hold up to 30kg per bike - although I found that the heavier the bikes the less reliable the bungee was on the Shinglebacks.
Advantage: Close call here. The SingleTrail is coming in between the Classic and Sport pricepoints from Shingleback, but has some higher quality features. The Shingleback Classic is more accessible with a cheaper pricepoint for those on a slimmer budget, but the weight limit is better with the SingleTrail.
Overall, I'm very excited to see racks going through a revolution into the vertical style from the popular tray-style racks that have dominated and took over from roof racks and the mast-style towball racks of years ago. I've been a total convert with the new vertical racks, and after a year of using both the Shingleback and Singletrail, am taking more friends and more bikes with me on holidays and trips away. I am sold on the SingleTrail at this point and would struggle to find one that is easier to use and higher quality than the one I have on my truck today. As of the time I write this article, I am loading all three of my bikes and my partner's gravel bike on my Singletrail for a trip to the Murray River near Wangaratta where we'll load up a few of us and do one of several different road, gravel, or MTB rides in VIC High Country over the next week. This rack is a necessary part of all my trips now, and could not do without it.
Other notes ------------
Road Bikes - I found that mounting road bikes on either brand rack presented some potential for rim rub on the front wheel loops, so I carry some foam to put around the right side of the loop for the wheel to rest against.
Kids Bikes - The Shingleback has a rear wheel bar that is adjustable in height, so if carrying some kids bikes with 20" wheels, you can adjust it. The Single trial is not adjustable, but both racks handle 24" wheel bikes and bigger with ease
Color - The silver zinc-plated steel on the Singletrail is better for longer wear, but they offer a black powder coated version for $250 extra for those looking for the aesthetic.
Our selection of Vertical Bike Racks by Single Trail
Oct 11, 2022 Update
Have added a Yakima Backswing ($449) to the 5Bike SIngletrail and now have FULL access to the back of the vehicle with the quick pull of a lever. Singletrail makes a gas strut version that's a bit pricier, and admittedly nicer to use. Will probably be upgrading that over time. It pushed the rack a bit further out the back of my car, but leaning the rack to the forward position offsets most of that distance. Love the setup, and little-to-no extra wiggle, can still hit speed bumps loaded or unloaded and no percievable noise or bouncing of the rack.
November 18, 2022
Thanks for the comparison, super helpful and detailed.
I would love for these vertical racks to consider mud guards in their next iterations. We are a cycling family of 5 and have used a trailer to bring our bikes – we aren’t into mountain biking (this might have a yet on it!) but love rail trails and just having our bikes with us but have mudguards on all our bikes because we use them to get places in regular clothes.
I will have to check them out to see what we can manage in the meantime :)
April 26, 2022
thanks for the review, actually persuaded me to switch my purchase to single trail. off to pick it up tonight and get it fitted.
thanks for going through allt he various bits, the loading and tilting comments did it for me.
March 31, 2022
Thanks for the great review.
One comment I would like to add is based from my observations of the Shingkeback rack.
I love on Canberra and the Shingleback is by far the most popular rack here, maybe that’s a price thing?
What I have noticed is the weakness of the hoop design/material choice.
Opting for a solidround bar construction means that it gets damaged and deformed (easily).
A great many of the Shingleback racks I have seen have suffered from hoop damage.
Single trail, along while the rest of their build, have gone with a more durable design using formed tubing for the hoops.
Also, the Shingleback hoops are welded to the top RHS so no chance of replacing a mangled hoop should you need to.
So for a family of 5 with 3 kids under 10yo the Shingleback is the better option to cater for the smaller bikes?
Observing a hitch bicycle rack that obliges your bicycles, too as your spending plan, can be a test. However, not to stress, we’ve endured many hours testing and exploring for you! Throughout the course of recent years, we’ve by and by tried bike hitch racks of all styles – hanging racks, stage racks, and vertical racks – to become familiar with the intricate details of each style and brand.
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September 26, 2023