North Shore Racks have been helping mountain bikers haul their bikes around since 2004, and 16 years later the racks are still made in North Vancouver, BC.
The NSR-6 can carry up to six bike, with a maximum recommended bike weight of 60 pounds, and a total weight capacity of 300 pounds. In other words, six oversized eMTBs might be pushing it, but otherwise almost any six mountain bikes should still come in under the max weight limit.
The bikes are held on via a four-pronged cradle that the fork crown slides into, and the rear wheel is held in place by a knotted rope. It's a rack designed specifically for mountain bikers, which means riders who are looking for a place to hang their fancy road bikes or beach cruisers will need to look elsewhere (for now).
NSR-6 Rack Details
• Max bike weight: 60 lb / Total weight capacity: 300 lb
• Folds down when not in use
• Steel construction
• 2" receiver hitch
• Made in Canada
• Rack weight: 72 lb
• Price: $799.99 USD
It may be limited to mountain bikes, at least for now, but the design does allow it to work with everything from 12" to 29" wheels (kids bikes will require a bungee cord or something similar to attach the rear wheel to the rack's lower double bar). The mountain bike-only designation is scheduled to change this spring when North Shore Racks launches their retrofittable road bike adaptor.ASSEMBLY & INSTALLATION
The NSR-6 is shipped completely disassembled, and I mean completely – even the pieces of rope that are used to secure the rear wheel need some assembly, in the form of an overhand knot every few inches.
Getting everything put together isn't overly challenging, but it does take a solid 30 – 45 minutes. There's also the fact that it, like all 6-bike vertical racks we know of, is not light. The whole process is doable by one person, but having someone else on hand to help carry it and slide it into the hitch doesn't hurt.
The ability to tilt the rack, along with the multiple positions on the portion that slides in to a hitch, helps it accommodate a wide range of vehicle types. I ended up running it in the middle of the three angle positions, and with the rack as far back on the portion that slides into the receiver hitch in order to get the most ground clearance possible, which helped keep the rear wheels of longer bikes from dragging on the ground when going over water bars and the like. LOADING & UNLOADING
Loading up the NSR-6 is quick and relatively easy as long as you remember the basics. The main point to keep in mind is that bikes load from the left side, and unload starting on the right. I'll admit, it is sort of entertaining watching someone try to get their bike out of the middle spot on the rack without taking the others off first – that struggle is real.
Of course, the difficulty level of loading bikes will also depend on vehicle height, bike weight, and rider height. Lifting a heavy DH bike over your head, especially for riders that are on the shorter side of the spectrum can be a challenge. I tested the rack with a wide range of mountain bikes and didn't run into any issues when it came to loading the bikes, but I do know the fit sometimes be a little trickier with a dual crown fork and a short head tube.
Compared to something like a Recon or a VelociRAX rack, where the front wheel sits in a cradle, it does take a bit more effort to get bikes situated on a North Shore Rack, although once they're in place they stay put very well, even on rough roads. The Yakima HangOver rack uses as similar pronged system to hold bikes, but it's more awkward to load, and requires that a rubber strap be secured each time to keep the bike in place.BIKE RETENTION
Once the fork crown is sitting in the four rubber coated prongs it's time to secure the rear wheel. The attachment method is about as simple as it gets – a piece of cord is looped around the wheel, and then a knot slots into a little notch to hold it into place. The system works, but I wouldn't mind seeing something a little less rudimentary, perhaps something along the lines of a ski strap. According to North Shore Racks, they said that they went with rope because it doesn't stretch, which helps keep the bikes from popping out the top of the rack if hit from below.
Speaking of ski straps, I'd highly recommend a few of those, unless you like looking in your rearview mirror and seeing front wheels spinning merrily along for the entire drive. This is another area where it'd be nice to see some refinement in the rack's design. It's not necessary to keep the bike in place - the prong length and design takes care of that, but the spinning front wheel is distracting.
It's also worth mentioning that the rack does touch your frame, and there's a chance of ending up with scuffed paint on your bike's head tube, especially you're doing a lot of loading and unloading on wet, muddy days. It's best to check the fit before heading out, and a protective sticker or two on the frame should prevent any possible paint rubbing. Shuttling rub is one of those things that can happen with almost any setup, and overall I'd say the NSR-6 is one of the more frame friendly options out there.
When it comes to keeping the bikes where they belong - on the rack - the NSR-6 does a great job. I never had any runaway bikes, and even when the rear wheels were jostled by a water bar all of the bikes remained in place. This is the category where the NSR-6 shines most - it's a very secure way to hold bikes on rugged shuttle roads.
It's probably time for a little rattle-can rust removal, assuming the rain ever stops...DURABILITY
With the border closed, my usual trips to Whistler Bike Park have been replaced by more shuttling than ever, which has provided ample opportunity to test out the NSR-S's durability. The rack itself is still in excellent shape, although there are a few rust spots that are starting to show up where the powdercoat has rubbed off. That's the downside of the full steel construction, and it's going to be a more common occurrence for riders that live in extra-wet areas. A little sandpaper and some spray paint should be all it takes to deal with it, but it'd be nice if it didn't happen at all.
I did end up installing an anti-rattle hitch tightener
, since there was still more play between the rack and my hitch than I wanted even with everything snugged down. It would have been fine if I was only driving on pavement, but much of the shuttling I did was off-road.
On that note, North Shore Rack's 2-year warranty says that it's void if the product has been used off-road, which is unfortunate since I'd imagine there are a lot more dirt road shuttle roads than paved ones. The racks are
designed to handle dirt road shuttling, it's just that North Shore Racks can't cover user caused damage. COMPARISONSWeight:
The NSR-6 is a fairly substantial chunk of steel, but at 72 pounds it is lighter than its main competition - the Yakima HangOver is 73 pounds, the Recon R6 is 85 pounds, and the VelociRAX 6 also weighs around 85 pounds. Carrying Capacity:
As I mentioned earlier, the NSR-6 is designed to hold up to 300 pounds, with a max individual bike weight of 60 pounds (that means you'd only be able to carry 5 bikes if all of them weigh 60 pounds). The VelociRAX has a total bike weight capacity of 230 pounds, and individual bikes should weigh no more than 57 pounds. Yakima's HangOver rack has a 225 pound capacity, with an individual bike weight limit of 37.5 pounds. For the Recon R6, each basket is rated to a maximum capacity of 45-50 pounds.Price:
In the US, the NSR-6 is priced identically to the Yakima HangOver at $799, which is impressive considering the NSR-6 is made in Canada, and the HangOver is made in Asia. The VelociRAX 6 is slightly more expensive, at $849 USD. Recon is the smallest operation out of these four, and their prices reflect that at $1,170 for the 6 bike option. The Recon racks are made in the USA from US-sourced parts.
Very secure bike retention, even on rough roads+
Compact considering how many bikes it can hold, while keeping them far enough apart to prevent pedal vs frame incidents +
High individual bike weight capacity+
Better value than most of the competition, and a touch lighter too
Can be awkward to load and unload, depending on bike weight and rider height-
Wheel retention system could be refined, and needs a strap to stop the front wheel spinning-
Rust can develop, especially if it's used in rainy climates-
Mountain bikes only (for now)