Check it out: new product from a new(ish) company. Kuat was formed in 2007 by Luke KUschmander, Brian ATkinson, and Guy Mace, engineering genius, and they’ve produced 4 upscale and well built bike racks so far. Each rack showcases a fresh approach to material choice and design, making each on unlike any rack you may have seen before. The NV, which is new for 2009-10, is no exception.
At $495 MSRP for either the 2- or 1.25-inch receiver version, this unit isn’t the cheapest out there but does include a few features that aren’t found on most standard bike racks. For example, this rack can carry 1oo+ lbs of bike. Don’t know about your but I’ve never seen a bike even close to that weight, not even one made from gas pipe.
The NV rack sports extruded, channeled aluminum on the front and rear tire arms and stamped, welded steel on the rack center which means you’re getting a rack that can take harsh environmental conditions (rain, heat, snow, salt) year after year. Looking closer, the NV features bronzy orange hardware and accents – anodized aluminum rather than the plain stuff – to give the rack a sexy look and a long lasting finish.
The use of levers in place of pull pins makes it very convenient to tilt the rack out of the way to get into the trunk. Looking at the photo below you can also see that Kuat added a 360-degree bike repair clamp which will allow you to work on and clean up your bike in the parking lot after your ride. Latching the bike to the rack takes less than 10 seconds which I love, especially compared to the roof mounting systems I’ve used.
Out of the box and onto the car will take you about 30 minutes to assemble the five main pieces along with the repair clamp. The instructions are pretty straightforward with just a few parts to worry about. Like most instruction packets, this one could use clearer images but once you read through a couple times you can make out exactly what they mean.
Make sure everything is lined up before you start cranking things down as it is possible to cross thread the supplied hardware. I really like the wedge cam design Kuat uses on the NV since the cam wedges on the corner of your receiver rather that just the side like some others. That feature alone really reduces the amount noise that is generated from the rack when bouncing off pot holes. Align the receiver pin and lock it down with the supplied security lock and you’re good to go.
On the road the Kuat NV didn’t allow the bikes to move around once clamped in properly (unlike in the photos above). I found that the front clamp should be brought as close to the fork as possible to keep everything battened down. Some of the bigger MTB forks may be really close to the clamp arm (Totems, Fox 40, Dorado) so in that case you may want to simply wrap a lizard skin jumbo chainstay protector to eliminate any chance of rubbing.
The front clamp works as well as any other unit on the market today, fitting 26 and 29 inch wheels easily. There is an adapter that is supplied for 20 and 24 inch wheels that must be used if you’re hauling smaller bikes. The rear strap works pretty well, however I could see this part being improved a bit in the future.
To access your hatch or trunk, just release the pivot pin and have the rack tilt down giving you enough room to open up your hatch without removing the bikes. I had a hard time getting two bikes locked up securely using the included cable lock so in some cases you may need to provide your own lock.
Overall I would say the NV is a great looking rack that I could easily see on the back of a high end SUV – and on top of that it works great! The shining star of the NV is the three positions it offers: stored position, transport position, and tilt-down-for-access position. The added repair clamp is a nice touch and works, though I’d like to see it beefed up a touch to take some flex out. Not that the flex is much of an issue with lighter XC or road bikes, but when you get a FR bike on the repair clamp, things start to move around a bit.
Check out other innovative racks from Kuat to find the one that’s right for you. Then the next time you pull up to the trailhead everyone will compliment your great rack!
* 2 Bike Capacity
* Built-in Repair Stand
* Lever Fold Up and Tilt Down
* Integrated Cable Lock
* Hand Tight Cam System
* Front and Rear Tire Ratchets
* A Posh 13″ Between Bikes
* 2″ and 1.25″ Receiver Options
* Optional Bike Add-ons
* Fits 20″-29″Wheels
* Lifetime Warranty
I would like to thanks the folks at Kuat for sending up the NV rack for review.