Luxury Bikes

North Shore Billet Talon Crank – Reviews, Comparisons, Specifications – Cranksets

A Spinner is a weirdo is a weirdo… Nowadays that can be both true and untrue. Yes, you can find a perfectly functioning crank that isn’t too heavy and doesn’t cost too much. However, as boring as this particular component may seem, it is an area where you can also find exotic options to spice up your vehicle and make it your own. From carbon to titanium, everything is possible, all sorts of designs and colors are available. North Shore Billet, better known as NSB, threw its hat into the ring earlier this year with a three-piece crank made from a single block of aluminum. We’ve been testing one for a few months. Read on to find out how we coped.



  • Beautiful finish, available in three colors
  • The aluminum muzzleloader is good for longevity
  • 30mm spindle compatible with many BB options
  • The Race Face Cinch chainring interface is solid, many chainring options available
  • Available in lengths 155 to 170 mm
  • Not fake
  • A bit cumbersome
  • Expensive

NSB Talon highlights

  • Three-piece design
  • 30mm spindle diameter
  • Aluminum muzzleloader
  • Available in four lengths: 155mm, 160mm, 165mm, 170mm
  • Made from 7075 T6 aluminum
  • Cinch chainring holder (Race Face)
  • Weight:
    • 630g – 155mm with 73mm spindle
    • 654g – 160mm with 73mm spindle
    • 660g – 165mm with 73mm spindle
    • 670g – 170mm with 73mm spindle
  • Warranty: One-year, no-questions-asked warranty against manufacturing defects and a lifetime prorated crash replacement program for the original owner for the life of the cranks
  • MSRP: $420

First impressions

$420 without chainring and bottom bracket is a bit pricey in the world of cranks, but you get a well-made product for your money. Aside from the packaging, which is significantly cheaper, the Talon feels solid and the machining gives it the boutique touch that will please CNC fans in general.

The Talon is a three-piece design, meaning it features two crank arms bolted to a spindle. The spindle is available in either a 73 or 83mm version and the crank arms can be sized between 155 and 170mm in 5mm increments. This is good news for anyone embracing the recent trend towards shorter crank arms, and is also one of the reasons why NSB decided not to forge the Talon, but simply machine it from a single block of aluminum. The company says forging is prohibitively expensive at lower production volumes, and it wanted the flexibility to offer a wide range of crank arm lengths. Forging is known to produce a stronger product all other things being equal, but NSB has given the Talon dimensions that allow it to withstand a lot of abuse. The crank was independently tested at EFBE Pruftechnik in Germany and was also ridden by Yoann Barelli for over a year before being released to the general public. If it’s okay for Yoann, it should be okay for the rest of us too!


For the chainring interface, NSB has opted for the Race Face Cinch standard. This is a smart move as it opens the door to the Race Face catalog as well as a number of third party manufacturers who also adhere to the standard. The cranks themselves are available in three different versions, all of which are rather understated. So if you want to spice up your riding experience, you can do so with a colorful chainring and perhaps a few pedals.

On the path

We chose the pewter color, which offers a nice shiny look without being overly glittery. Installation of the Talon went smoothly as the self-extracting, single-screw design made assembly easy. Simply turn it down to the desired power and then compensate for the lateral play in the spindle with the preload ring. Many thanks to NSB for making the latter from aluminum. This is a huge improvement over the composite versions often found on cheaper cranks.

Once you’re on your way, there’s not much left to say. The Talon is very stable under your feet, there is no noticeable play or bending. Step on the power and away you go, in that respect it works like any good crank. Set it and forget it. The Race Face chainring we used was also solid and ensured our chain stayed in place even on rough terrain. We still think SRAM’s own version of Narrow-Wide is the gold standard for chain retention, but the Race Face option is definitely “good enough” and in our experience doesn’t throw too many chains (with a decent clutch on the derailleur).

Claw riding
Claw riding-2

Things that could be improved

We don’t want to make a big deal about it, but forging the crank before machining would probably allow NSB to save a little weight and make an even stronger product. We understand that this is more difficult to accomplish for a small manufacturer, but there are likely outsourcing options to avoid investing in costly machinery and tooling. The price is quite high even for a boutique crank. Hope costs $380 with their crank (which is forged), and a Race Face Atlas (also forged) costs just $189.99 with similar specs and weight. Of course, the Talon is a more unique product and those looking for something different probably won’t mind paying the extra price.

Long term durability

We’ve had the Talon for about four months now and it’s seen its fair share of rock gardens and awkward landings, with nothing to show for it other than a few scrapes. We can’t say for sure at this point, but it certainly looks like it’s in it for the long haul. NSB offers a one-year, unconditional warranty against any manufacturing defects and thereafter a tiered crash replacement program that allows you to purchase a replacement part at a reduced price if needed.

What is the end result?

There’s no shortage of high-quality alloy crank options these days, and prices start at less than half what NSB charges for the Talon. With the Talon you get a boutique product, manufactured in smaller quantities and with a distinctive appearance that will undoubtedly please both CNC fans and drivers who want to stand out from the crowd. Even though the Talon is a little more expensive and a few dozen grams heavier than its competition, it still offers that certain something for those looking for something special.

More information at:

About the reviewer

Johan Hjord – Age: 50 // Years of MTB rider: 18 // Weight: 190 pounds (87 kg) // Height: 6 feet 0 inches (1.84 m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After years of practicing falling off cliffs on a snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Since then, he has mostly ridden bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many mistakes as a rider. His 200-pound body weight, coupled with his unique ability with poor line choices and awkward landings, make him an expert in durability – if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much fine for anyone. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style he describes as “none” (although in reality he rips!). Since he doesn’t like most of the trail elements, Johan uses much of his free time to build his own. Johan’s other achievements include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly at 11.

Photos by Johan Hjord and Nils Hjord

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