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North Shore NSR-6 Review

A niche bike rack best suited for mountain bikers, larger vehicles, and shuttle laps
North Shore NSR-6
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $800 List
Pros:  Carries up to six mountain bikes, 300-pound carrying capacity, no seatpost/handlebar interference
Cons:  Only works with bikes with suspension forks, works best on large vehicles, hard to move and store
Manufacturer:   North Shore Racks
By Pat Donahue ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 2, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 23
  • Ease of EveryDay Use - 20% 8
  • Ease of Removal and Storage - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 20% 6
  • Security - 20% 6
  • Ease of Assembly - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 10

Our Verdict

The North Shore NSR-6 is a vertically-oriented hitch-mount rack best suited for gravity mountain bikers who frequently transport lots of bikes. This rack holds up to six mountain bikes and has a rugged, built-to-last feel. This is a great option for the rider that regularly carries up to 6 bikes and is popular with those who shuttle frequently. While relatively simple, the loading process takes a little getting used to but avoids unwanted bike-on-bike contact. The NSR-6 performs well within its intended application, but only works with mountain bikes with suspension forks. Given its sheer mass and size, this rack works best with mid-sized to large SUVs and trucks. It also comes in 2 and 4 bike versions.

Compare to Similar Products

 
North Shore NSR-6
This Product
North Shore NSR-6
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $800 List$619.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$599.00 at Competitive Cyclist
Compare at 2 sellers
$449.95 at Competitive Cyclist
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$250 List
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Pros Carries up to six mountain bikes, 300-pound carrying capacity, no seatpost/handlebar interferenceEasy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installationLow loading height, easy tray adjustment, lightweight, tool free removalReasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locksVery secure hold, no frame or fork contact
Cons Only works with bikes with suspension forks, works best on large vehicles, hard to move and storeHefty, priceyHigh price, sticky tilt release handle, cable locks are difficult to use, questionable durabilitySits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly requiredDesign 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 versatilityA thoughtful design makes this versatile rack incredibly user-friendly and we think its the best hitch mount rack availableA lightweight alternative to other hitch racks, with great adjustabilityThis rack combines solid performance and a reasonable priceAn 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%)
8
9
8
8
7
Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)
5
7
9
7
8
Versatility (20%)
6
9
9
9
7
Security (20%)
6
8
6
8
8
Ease Of Assembly (10%)
6
7
8
6
10
Durability (10%)
10
9
7
8
7
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
Bike Capacity 6 2 2 2 1
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.

Performance Comparison


The North Shore NSR-6 is one of only a few racks that can carry 6...
The North Shore NSR-6 is one of only a few racks that can carry 6 bikes. Its versatility is somewhat limited as it only works with bikes with suspension forks.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

The rubber-coated fork cradle holds the bike by the corn of the...
The rubber-coated fork cradle holds the bike by the corn of the fork. It is very secure, but some bikes with especially large head tubes may be a super tight fit. The cradles can also cause some wear on the paint over time.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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 rear wheels are secured with a simple knotted rope. It works...
The rear wheels are secured with a simple knotted rope. It works well and the ropes are easily replaced if they ever wear out.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

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.

When not in use, the NSR-6 folds down roughly in half at the hinge...
When not in use, the NSR-6 folds down roughly in half at the hinge in the main mast.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

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 fork cradles deliver a firm hold on your fork crown, without...
The fork cradles deliver a firm hold on your fork crown, without scratching the stanchions.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Versatility


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.

The NSR-6 is a bear to assemble and can be a little confusing. In...
The NSR-6 is a bear to assemble and can be a little confusing. In fact, we even put it together wrong the first time with the lower horizontal rear wheel bar on backward as seen in this photo.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

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.

The NSR-6 doesn't come with any security features to lock the bikes...
The NSR-6 doesn't come with any security features to lock the bikes to the rack. We'd suggest getting a long cable lock to secure them, as well as a hitch pin lock to secure the rack to the vehicle.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Security


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 ΒΌ" 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.

The NSR-6 is made almost entirely of metal with burly hardware. We...
The NSR-6 is made almost entirely of metal with burly hardware. We expect it to stand the test of time.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Durability


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 isn't cheap, but it is a heavy-duty rack that can handle...
The NSR-6 isn't cheap, but it is a heavy-duty rack that can handle up to 6 mountain bikes.
Photo: Jeremy Benson

Value


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.

Conclusion


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