North Shore NSR-6 Review
Cons: Only works with bikes with suspension forks, works best on large vehicles, hard to move and store
Manufacturer: North Shore Racks
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North Shore NSR-6
|Price||$800 List||$619.95 at REI|
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|$599.00 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|$449.95 at Competitive Cyclist|
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|Pros||Carries up to six mountain bikes, 300-pound carrying capacity, no seatpost/handlebar interference||Easy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installation||Low loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removal||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Very secure hold, no frame or fork contact|
|Cons||Only works with bikes with suspension forks, works best on large vehicles, hard to move and store||Hefty, pricey||High price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use, questionable durability||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Design seems a little over-complicated, limited to vehicles with low roof height, you have to lift bike to height of roof to load|
|Bottom Line||A high-capacity bike rack that performs well within its niche, but lacks versatility||A thoughtful design makes this versatile rack incredibly user-friendly and we think its the best hitch mount rack available||A lightweight alternative to other hitch racks, with great adjustability||This rack combines solid performance and a reasonable price||An highly engineered and somewhat complex rack that does a wonderful job holding your bike|
|Rating Categories||North Shore NSR-6||Thule T2 Pro XT||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide|
|Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)|
|Ease Of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||North Shore NSR-6||Thule T2 Pro XT||Yakima Dr. Tray||RockyMounts MonoRail||Thule UpRide|
|Style||Hitch (hanging)||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Hitch (tray)||Roof|
|Lock?||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Available but not included|
|Weight||68 lbs||51 lbs||34 lbs||44 lbs 2 oz||17 lbs|
|Other Sizes Available?||Yes, 2 and 4 bike versions||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 1 additional bike||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||No|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Round, Square, Aero, Most Factory|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The NSR-6 is a bit of a niche product that is ideal for those who transport lots of mountain bikes. It is popular among the gravity mountain bike crowd for its burly construction, easy loading. and fork-hold design that prevents bike-on-bike contact. This rack is all about shuttle laps, burly bikes, and rough roads, and it works just as well for around town use. What it lacks in versatility and ease of removal/storage, it makes up for in durability and impressive performance within its intended application.
Ease of Everyday Use
The North Shore rack is a reasonably user-friendly rack. That said, the process of loading and unloading bikes can take a little getting used to for riders who primarily use tray-style hitch racks or roof racks. We found the NSR-6 to be easier to use compared to the other vertical hitch rack in our test, the Yakima HangOver 6.
It is easiest to load the NSR-6 from the left to right. If you're filling the rack with 6 bikes, always start with the furthest left slot and work your way to the right. If you are only loading a couple bikes, we suggest placing them closest to the main mast of the rack for stability. We found the best way to load each bike is by gripping the lower right fork leg with one hand and the seat stay with the other hand. Raise the front wheel towards the cradle. Tilt the wheel slightly to the right and set the fork crown in the rubberized cradle. The weight of the bike helps the fork crown to settle into position. When the fork crown settles into place in the cradle, it squeezes the fork and holds it in place. This is a surprisingly firm grip. As you lower the rear end of the bicycle onto the rack, the rear wheel drops into place on the lower bar assembly where you can use the knotted rope to secure the rear wheel. On longer trips, we recommend passing a rope or bungee through the front wheels of the bicycles so that they don't spin continuously. Unloading bikes is quite easy. Simply work backward and unload from the right to the left. Just look out for handlebars smacking you in the face.
The beauty of the NSR-6 and other vertical-mounted hitch racks is the lack of interference between handlebars and seat posts. We have tested some of our favorite tray-style racks with the "add-on features" that allow you to carry 4-bikes. These 4-bike tray racks can be difficult because with all of those bikes loaded, handlebars and seatposts often interfere with each other.
The rack also has a few tilt positions (see photos above). There is a D-shaped pin on the lower mast, and moving it allows you to tilt the mast and rack out away from the vehicle. The tilt positions allow you to optimize the distance between the front bike wheels and the back of your vehicle and helps you access the trunk or hatch more easily. This system is easy to use but requires extra care when bikes are loaded on the rack. If tilting the rack with bikes loaded, we recommend having a second person assist you.
Ease of Removal and Storage
It is no secret that the North Shore rack is quite large. Throughout testing, it spent most of its time on a 1999 Nissan Pathfinder. The rack is so big that it protruded approximately one foot above the roofline and was wider than the mirrors. Fortunately, the main mast does have a hinge that allows the rack to fold in half when not in use or for storage. In its folded size, it takes up about the same amount of space as most other hitch-mount racks.
Thanks to its heavy-duty steel construction, the NSR-6 weighs just over 70 pounds. Given the sheer mass and bulkiness of the bike rack, it can be difficult to remove it from your vehicle and carry it to your storage location. When moving the NSR-6 around for storage purposes, it is best to have two sets of hands to finagle this behemoth around corners or through the doorway of a shed.
The NSR-6 isn't the most versatile bike rack. It is intended for use with mountain bikes that have suspension forks, and that is all that will fit into the fork cradles. The rack will work very well for the target audience but is not so useful for the casual bicycle rider or those with multiple styles of bikes.
This rack will work with any type of mountain bike including dual crown downhill bikes. According to North Shore Racks, it has a 60 lbs per bike weight limit and a 300 lb maximum weight capacity. That means E-bikes should work just fine on the NSR-6. This is a distinct advantage over the similar Yakima HangOver 6 which has a recommended weight limit of 37.5-pounds per bicycle.
Ease of Assembly
The NSR-6 was quite difficult to assemble. The process is a little involved and takes roughly 60-minutes to complete. It may be a good idea to have two sets of hands to avoid dropping heavy metal pieces onto your foot.
Upon unboxing the rack, everything is wrapped in industrial cling/stretch wrap. It can be difficult to unwrap everything smoothly and we recommend doing so on grass or a soft surface to avoid damaging the metal in the event you drop a piece. There is a bag of hardware and rope, an anti-rattle device, three pieces of the mast/hitch, and two horizontal pieces. Two crescent wrenches are required to secure all of the nuts and bolts together.
The directions are decent and we were able to follow them without too much trouble. It is best to use the directions in conjunction with an image on a phone or computer to double-check your work as things can get a little confusing. While the directions were okay, this rack comes in a lot of pieces and there are a lot of loose parts.
Security features are quite minimal with the NSR-6 rack. In fact, they are non-existent. The bikes do not lock to the rack and the rack does not lock to your hitch. According to the North Shore website, the hitch pin is compatible with ¼" padlocks.
We recommend carrying a long, heavy-duty, cable lock in your vehicle. If you run into the grocery store after a ride or are camping in a seedy area, you can feed the cable through the bikes and lock them to each other. Some hitches have slots where you could lock the bikes to the hitch itself.
Throughout testing, we observed no signs of wear or deterioration. We drove this rack through some serious rain/hail storms, on dusty dirt roads, and plenty of smooth highway. It still functions as new and there is no abnormal wiggle or play. We have not observed any signs of the rack not holding bikes in a secure-enough manner.
We have read complaints about previous iterations of the NSR rusting easily. We have no indication that this issue is developing during our relatively short test period. It should be noted that the short ropes used to secure the rear wheel to the rack will eventually wear out and need replacement. Thankfully, rope is very inexpensive and much easier to replace than proprietary ratchet or rubber straps.
The NSR-6 is one of the most expensive racks you can buy. While its asking price is high, there is no doubt that this durable rack is built to stand the test of time, and is one of only a few options on the market for carrying 6 bikes. This rack will represent the best value to the mountain biker who frequently transports lots of bikes or shuttles often. If you don't need a six-bike capacity, North Shore also makes 2 and 4 bike versions that cost significantly less.
The North Shore NSR-6 rack is a niche bike rack that features a quality design and has a build-to-last feel. Yes, this rack has a much narrower range of applications and versatility compared to other options in our test. It only works with bikes with a suspension fork, lacks security features, and is quite clunky to remove from your vehicle and store. That said, we feel it is a great option for the mountain biker who frequently shuttles and needs to transport lots of bikes.
— Pat Donahue