North Shore Racks Inc. has been in operation since 2004. The company’s high-quality and patented bike rack design is a key reason behind such a long and successful run.
So, what makes their bike rack so great?
Well, apart from being manufactured locally using North American sourced steel, the hitch-mounted racks are compact enough to fit as many as 6 bikes behind your car. They are safe for road use, and durable even in off-road use.
To get an in-depth understanding of the rack features, this North Shore bike rack review covers all 3 available models.
Entry-Level North Shore Rack Review: NSR 2
The NSR 2 is North Shore’s entry-level model.
Unlike the other models, it’s the only one which offers either a 1¼″ (3.18 cm) or a 2″ (5.08 cm) hitch size version. Probably because this light, two-bike model is designed for smaller cars.
This model is just as compact as the other two.
That’s a good thing since the more compact it is, the less material used to make it; hence, making it more affordable.
Despite this rack being compact, the bicycles won’t have any contact.
Loading and unloading is relatively quick and easy, involving 4 steps:
1. Hold your bike up vertically by grabbing the fork and seat tube.
2. Load the rack by passing the first bike over from the right side to hook the fork crown on the left-most cradle.
3. Tie the rear wheel to the rack.
4. When unloading, start from right to left of the rack.
Since the rack height is adjustable, you can properly fit in both larger and smaller bikes.
Most importantly, you don’t need additional parts to assemble, mount, or load the bikes. Everything is included in the package. But you’ll certainly need a pair of wrenches to tighten the bolts and nuts when assembling the NSR 2.
But, will it rattle when driving?
That shouldn’t be a problem, since the 2” model has a heavy duty lockable anti-rattle hitch pin. You can even use a ¼” (0.635 cm) shackle padlock. Unfortunately, the 1¼” version doesn’t have that.
Since it’s a heavy duty rack, is it heavy?
Not really. The rack weighs only 42 lbs (19 kg). That’s just slightly heavier than the 30 lbs (13.6 kg) average weight of a mountain bike (MTB). What’s even better, it can comfortably carry much heavier MTBs, up to a maximum of 60 lbs (27.2 kg) each.
The initial assembly might be the challenging part.
It will take roughly 30 – 45 minutes to put all the parts together. Fortunately, you can do it alone, but having someone else helping you will speed things up. Maybe it’s a good thing it doesn’t come pre-assembled, since a fully assembled one is more bulky and will cost more in shipping fees.
Alternatively, you can pay a $75 fee to get it pre-assembled by North Shore.
In summary, here are the key benefits and drawbacks.
– relatively quick loading and unloading
– lightweight with a high weight carrying capacity
– fits many types of MTBs, including kids’ bikes and e-bikes
– initial assembly has many part
Medium North Shore Bike Rack Review: NSR 4
The NSR 4 bike holder can carry four MTBs.
It has many of the basic features as the other models in this North Shore bike rack review. But this particular model is probably the most popular one with many thousands sold globally.
The layback is one valuable feature here.
This layback provides three tilt angles for the vertical shaft. With it, you can tilt the rack a bit further away from the rear of your car, to make room for a rear-mounted spare tire.
Surprisingly, it’s not much heavier than the NSR 2.
Weighing only 50 lbs (22.7 kg), NSR 4 is only 8 lbs (3.6 kg) heavier than NSR 2, yet it has double the carrying capacity. Just like the NSR 2, you can even fit kids’ bikes that don’t have front suspension. In case the bike forks don’t fit in just right, just bend the holding cradles a little.
In summary, here are the key benefits and drawbacks.
– double the capacity of NSR 2 and only slightly heavier
– no plastic parts, making it highly durable
– layback tilt accommodates rear-mounted spare tire
– not sold through retail stores or bike shops – only through North Shore’s website
High-End North Shore Bike Rack Review: NSR 6
The NSR 6 comfortably takes up to 6 MTBs.
This is the kind of thing you need for family members, friends, or a small racing team.
Despite having 6 MTBs, the NSR 6 design is so compact that it doesn’t cover your vehicle’s tail lights.
What makes it so compact?
A key design feature here is the slanting of the six prongs where you insert your MTB fork crowns. This makes the handlebars slant instead of being horizontal, so all your MTBs can fit snugly side by side.
Another great feature is the NSR 6 has a version that folds in half.
When unloaded, the rack’s vertical shaft conveniently folds in half, so that the six prongs that were on top are now on the lower end. That makes it hardly noticeable.
Although it’s primarily designed for MTBs, you can actually fit in other bikes like fat bikes, except road bikes.
Can you use the NSR 6 on travel trailers and RVs?
Yes, you can. It works well on just about any car. However, due to the high weight capacity, it’s best used on mid-sized to large SUVs or trucks. Just make sure you’re using frame-mounted hitches, because bumper-mounted hitches aren’t strong enough.
The NSR 6 actually isn’t too heavy, weighing only 72 lbs (32.7 kg).
And the total weight carrying capacity is as much as 300 lbs (136 kg).
In summary, here are the key benefits and drawbacks.
– massive weight capacity of 300 lbs (136 kg)
– folding center hinge makes it unobtrusive
– relatively light weight of 72 lbs (32.7 kg)
- specifically designed only for MTBs
North Shore Bike Review: Overall Analysis
To identify the true value of a North Shore bike holder, you need to evaluate many other factors concerning its actual use.
So, how will it perform in the real world?
Advantages of North Shore Hitch-Mounted Racks
When considering the North Shore rack, a hitch-mounted design, you need to know what advantages such a design has over roof-mounted options.
One key aspect is your car’s handling.
A roof-mounted design is more likely to affect the car’s handling during windy conditions, or when driving through winding roads. You’ll also need to be extra careful when entering places with height restrictions, like car parks or driving under low-hanging tree branches.
Such issues won’t apply with the NSR 2/4/6.
The NSR series is also certainly easier to load than a roof-mounted design. However, the vertical bike positioning might be a bit more challenging for shorter people compared to other hitch-mounted designs with horizontally aligned bicycles.
Hitch mounts also offer some benefits over trunk mounts.
With a trunk mount, you’ll likely have to completely remove the rack before opening your trunk. On the other hand, you only need to incline the hitch-mounted NSR series.
The versatility of hitch mounts beats truck bed racks too.
As the name suggests, truck bed racks must be used on vehicles that have truck beds. You’ll hardly experience such limitations with the hitch-mount NSR series, which works with just about any type of car.
Even cargo boxes can’t match the carrying capacity of the NSR series hitch mounts.
Safety is crucial for anything you attach on your car.
Any loosely attached component can cause a serious accident if it falls off while driving.
You don’t have to worry about that with the NSR series.
In this North Shore bike rack review, you’ve probably noticed several safety features, including:
– secure assembly using strong bolts and nuts
– all-metal frame that won’t break like plastic
– weight specifications match vehicle hitch specifications to avoid overloading
– strong bicycle attachments with four-pronged cradles holding the fork crowns at the top and knotted rope ties holding the rear wheels at the bottom
– sufficient ground clearance at the bottom
Since the NSR series is mounted at the back of your car, how easy is it to open the trunk?
Quite easy, actually…
Simply loosen the bottom hinge of the NSR hitch mount and incline it out backwards. You can then open the trunk of your car even if the rack is fully packed.
What about accessing the bikes?
Well, it’s generally a simple process of loading the rack from left to right, and unloading from right to left. However, if you need just one bike from the middle or at the very end, you have to first unload all the other bikes ahead of it.
It’s only a minor inconvenience though.
Ultimately, the NSR series’ pronged system for holding bicycles is much easier to use compared to the Yakima HangOver that uses a similar design.
Protection from Theft
This North Shore bike rack review wouldn’t be complete without looking at theft prevention features.
After all, over 2 million bikes are stolen every year in America.
A useful strategy of dealing with that is locking your bikes to the holder. But, if thieves can’t remove your MTBs, they might try to take out the wheels instead. So, wind strong cables through the wheels too.
Durability shouldn’t be a big concern with the all-metal structure.
Just make sure not to scratch off the powder coat when loading and unloading your MTBs. Scratched surfaces can easily start rusting, but you can still prevent that using sandpaper and spray paint.
All joints and connections are pretty strong.
Just in case hinges and connections get loose, you can tighten up the bolts and nuts easily. The movable hinges will also need occasional greasing once in a while.
If you feel that the hitch connection isn’t particularly sturdy for very rough roads, try using an anti-rattle hitch tightener.
It’s a commendable thing that North Shore has been making regular improvements to the NSR series. This should give you even more confidence about buying products from such a company that invests in satisfying their customers’ needs.
A notable improvement that’s coming soon is making the NSR series useable for different types of bikes – not just MTBs. The company will soon launch a road bike adaptor.
North Shore Bike Racks Warranty
A good warranty period can give you the assurance that you’ll get the full value of the product your purchase.
Therefore, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll get a two-year limited warranty for North Shore products. For commercial use, the warranty is 6 months.
This warranty covers defects in materials or workmanship.
However, the warranty is void if you use the products off-road, or on recreational vehicles. Well, considering that MTBs are typically off-road recreational bicycles, many people will probably void their warranty when using the NSR series specifically designed for MTBs.
Anyway, you probably won’t need the warranty due to the MTB holder’s durability.
Also note that modifying, damaging, or using the MTB holder for other uses apart from the intended purpose will void the warranty.
Basically, if you use it for the right purpose and in the proper way, you’re covered.
Shipping costs can be a major consideration if you live far away from Canada.
Shipping costs vary based on destinations in different cities.
For Canadians living in or near North Vancouver, the company location, you can avoid the shipping costs just by picking up the product yourself. When entering your billing information during purchase, select “local pickup in North Vancouver” to remove the shipping charges.
You shouldn’t worry about not getting the NSR series, since the company ships to Canada, USA, and international locations. It will just take a bit longer to get to far-off places.
Ultimately, based on this North Shore bike rack review, the product seems to be very well made.
It ticks the right boxes and offers several advantages over many other options in the market. Perhaps, the only major flaw is its specific design only for MTBs.
North Shore has been doing the right things from the start.
The company was one of the first to deliver a sturdy holder for MTBs. They came up with the product at a time when most people would just toss their bikes over a tailgate.
Probably the design may also need some bit of refining.
Whether intentionally or not, it has a rugged homemade look. Maybe a more appealing slick design might give it greater mass appeal. Perhaps not for the MTB crowd which enjoys the rough rugged look, but for the road bike users when the rack is retrofitted for road bikes.