We’re starting to see North Shore Racks pop up and like their simplicity and design. You can put up to six bikes on the back of a vehicle — something not possible with platform racks — and bikes are a snap to mount and dismount, using a hook-and-tie-down system comparable to hanging your bike in the basement.
We have not tested the rack but have talked to several owners. Their feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
At Fanatik Bikes in Bellingham, our favorite gateway bike shop to Whistler, receiving and inventory manager Kelby Fischer owns a 4-bike model and loves it.
“The clearance is fantastic, it’s really burly construction and you can swing it out of the way to get access to your vehicle, even if you have a hatchback,” he said.
Getting your hands on one can be challenging. Produced by a classic mom ‘n pop operation in Vancouver, B.C., the racks haven’t made it into distribution. The best way to buy one, Fischer said, is order direct from North Shore and have it shipped (about $50).
The racks aren’t cheap — the four-mount costs around $525 — but are bulletproof construction. No one I’ve talked to has complained about the price.
Pluses: Bikes are off the roof and minimize aerodynamic loss.
Mounting a bike takes literally 5 seconds. You hook the fork on top and tie the rear wheel with a supplied elastic to the lower crossbar.
No contact points to mar frame, either from contact with the rack or with other bikes.
No distribution yet. You have to have it shipped, and do assembly yourself.
Poor availability. These racks are in high demand that North Shore cannot yet meet. But that’s also a good thing.
No road bikes allowed.
You want to tie down the front wheels to avoid pointless bearing wear. The wheels will get to spinning pretty fast at freeway speeds. An old inner tube, bungy cord or whatever else might be handy will work.
Because the rack essentially offers one point of stability — the hitch post — adding more than two bikes can present issues. Four to six bikes on the back of any light vehicle, even a pickup, is a lot of weight — and throw. You need to be aware of the torsional forces, especially at high speed or on rugged back country terrain.