I’ve always lumped hitch racks into my personal category of “holy heck, why do these cost so much?”
It’s easy to find a hitch rack on Amazon for under $150, but I think I’d just skip buying one and tie my bike to the back of my car and drive around because the end result seems the same. And, cheaper bike racks never seem to adequately hold big, fat mountain bike tires, or fit our extravagantly long wheelbases.
Last year, at Interbike we checked out the new Kuat Transfer single tray bike rack. The Transfer is Kuat’s entry-level hitch rack at a great price, and it features Kuat engineering and quality. The 1-bike option costs $219, and an add-on costs $109. The idea is that the 1-bike option is great for someone starting out, but hey, maybe they make a friend along the way, and instead of getting rid of the 1-bike Transfer, they can buy an add-on. Unfortunately, the add-on cannot be used on the 2-bike rack to make a rack for three bikes. The three bike rack is offered separately.
- Comes in 1, 2, and 3-bike options (1-bike w/add-on tested)
- No frame contact
- Fits 1.25- and 2-inch receivers
- Fits 20- to 29-inch tires (up to 4.5-inches wide with Phat Bike kit)
- Max wheelbase: 47″
- 40-lb max weight per bike
- Weight: 20lb for 1-bike rack, 37lb for 2-bike rack
- MSRP: $249 for 1-bike Transfer (available at Amazon). $80 more for 2-bike rack (available at REI)
Transfer set up and installation
The Kuat Transfer and add-on came in separate boxes with instructions and hex wrenches, just like a coffee table from Ikea. Thankfully, the assembly was simpler than many Ikea pieces that I have built before.
In all, putting the Transfer and the add-on rack together took less than an hour.
The only problem I had was with one of the rack end caps on the add-on. The bolt squeezed the nut right through the insert instead of locking it in the end of the rack. The other end cap is stressed in the same way, but did not rip through. In either case, the end caps are mostly aesthetic and the problem doesn’t interfere with the rack’s functionality.
After that, the rack was ready to plug into my car’s hitch receiver.
On the road
When it’s time to hit the road, throwing bikes on the rack is easy. There’s a foot-activated pedal under the rack. Push that to bring the rack down from its upward mode, where it is stored when it’s not in use.
The rack arms swing out in front so you can hoist the bike up, and plant it in the wide tire trays. The bikes actually stayed upright even when the clamp arm was down, making it easy to let go of the bike, grab the arm, and bring it down to the front tire right in front of the fork crown. Then, it’s just one tire strap on the rear tire cradle.
Two bikes on the rack play nicely together and don’t bump or trade paint. The construction of the add-on rack seems solid and I wouldn’t worry about any stress on the joining parts.
I experienced some wiggle from the rack when the hitch pin threads came loose a few times. With a cotter pin or lock on the end, it’s not going anywhere, but does get annoying. I resolved it by dropping some Loctite on the threads and the rack stayed secure.
Kuat also sent along its new swingarm adapter, called the Pivot, to test. The idea with the Pivot is to mount it with a bike rack for people with hatchbacks or pick up trucks who still need access to the back. The Pivot can swing the rack out to the side and out of the way.
- Fits 2-inch hitch receivers only
- 250lb weight limit
- Swings out 90-degrees
- Locking, anti-rattle hitch pin
- MSRP: $295 (available at Amazon)
The Kuat Pivot comes fully assembled in all its heft. There is nothing tricky about installation. Plug it into the receiver and install the locking hitch pin, then treat the Pivot like a receiver and install the bike rack.
First lift up on the toggle clamp, which secures the Pivot in the closed position.
Then pull out the safety pin, which also secures the Pivot in the closed position.
The Pivot swings out to the side easily.
The Pivot is then out of the way, making it easy to get into the rear of the vehicle.
The Pivot does exactly what it says and is simple to use. I have no doubt that because of its solid construction it will outlast most of its buyers.
For just over $200, the Kuat Transfer is a solid choice and it’s great that buyers can add on an additional rack down the road as well. So far, aside from the end caps, everything else on the rack seems very solid. It’s simple, lightweight, looks great mounted, and is easy to use.
The Pivot is going to be great for summer camping trips. It’s hefty, solid, also easy to use, and a smart gadget to add for easier transportation and access.
Thanks to Kuat for providing the Transfer and Pivot for review.