So the two bars that go into the front triangle of the bike are closely spaced together. This allows it to accomodate kids bikes and full suspension bikes. The other design feature is the rubber mounts where the top tube sits are triangle-shaped and rotate freely. This allows the user to fit the bike in and then adjust the mounts to give it maximum contact point with the top tube of the bike. And finally, there are two straps per mount. Ideally, one goes on the top tube and the other to the seat tube of the bicycle frame. The seat tube strap stabilizes the forward and backward movement of the bike while the car is in motion.
Does it accomodate all bikes? Well, in my experience, road bikes are not a problem at all. Kids bikes and hardtails are ok although if they have an extremely sloped top tube, the bike rests at an angle. The key issue is with full suspension bikes with a small front triangle. I’ve mounted a small Trek Remedy, Niner Jet 9 and Fuji Reveal. It’s a tight fit but it goes in. On the Fuji, I had to take the waterbottle cage off. The Santa Cruz Nomad would not mount. In cases like this, a frame adapter bar is needed. This is a bar that attaches to the seatpost and the handlebars.
Are bikes as easy to mount as with tray racks? Well no, tray racks are definitely the speed kings but the Kuat is simple enough and the bikes are held securely. The four rubber straps per bike are easy enough to handle and they allow for several mounting options.
The great news about the Kuat Alpha is the designers were able to incorporate several design features that make this type of rack more attractive. Here’s a few:
- All aluminum construction makes this rack light at 15 pounds. Putting the rack on and off the car is now easy.
- The rack packs really small so storing it is easy.
- There is a cam system on the hitch mount that removes all play. Most hitch interfaces have a wobble. The Kuat has knob on the main tube that you turn to expand a cam on the receiver hitch.
- There are two other anti wobble knobs on the rack to remove all play on the pivoting sections of the rack
- Built in lock included. The lock is minimalist but it’s always there and it only locks the last bike since the other bikes can’t go anywhere with the last bike blocking them.
The only weakness we’ve found so far is the rack hangs low on the receiver hitch. There’s no bend to the lower bar to raise the rackand there is a hinge mechanism that sits an inch below the rack. It seems to bottom out on high driveways on our Honda Minivan.
Also the Kuat Alpha is not a cheap rack at $329 but there is the Kuat Beta rack with less features available at $225.
So there we have it. We believe it’s a fresh approach to quality bike racks and we believe Kuat deserves praise for their efforts.
4.5 out of 5 Stars
4.5 out of 5 Stars