Kuat NV Bike Rack Review

Gear Pro Reviews Video

After assembling the rack, it was time to attach the unit to the back of my truck. The unit comes with a nice locking hitch pin, and a cinch tight cam system that wedges the rack’s arm tightly into the receiver. Inserting the rack into the trailer hitch was easy, although I did find that a quick spritz of greaseless lube (I used LPS 1) inside the hitch receiver, and on the rack’s main arm aided greatly in working with the two entities. The hitch receiver tends to get pretty dried out and dirty with time, and just a tad of the lube really helps.

nv_hitch

Aligning the holes so that the receiver pin could be inserted, took some finesse, but that’s the same with any trailer hitch work. The pin’s lock easily snapped on, and the lock’s key hole cover fit snugly, and has stayed on over 4 months of hard use. Once the pin and lock are set, then turn the black cinch tight cam system knob to get the rack from slopping around in the receiver. I forgot to do that once, and I had to pull over, and tighten it down, since I could see the bike jostling around in my rear view mirror. During a 2 foot snowstorm, I drove off a curb into a very deep ditch and broke off the cinch tight knob. The knob is not user replaceable, and the lower hitch section must be returned to the factory for replacement (under warranty).

nv_cam

The NV is a 2 bike rack (future option for 4), that holds a bike with a front tire cradle with an adjustable clamp arm, and a rear tire ratchet strap system, so nothing is contacting the frame. This beefy, yet light rack (48lbs) is made of heat treated 6061 T6 aluminum, and can carry up to 55 lbs bikes. The rack accommodates a variety of bike styles, and holds wheel sizes from 20 to 29 inches, with up to a 3 inch wide tire.

The holding system does a great job of securing bikes during transport, as my multiple test trips over 4 months have acknowledged. I have made a few 6+ hour road trips with the rack, with speeds up to 75mph, in extremely winding conditions, and all were done with my typical aggressive styled driving. The bikes stayed stable, and did not show any adverse issues. The rack has gotten the joy of being in some severe snowstorms, so the rack got its first treat of road grime, salt and gravel. It has also done fine on the typically rutted and bumpy fire roads.

nv_2bikes

Attaching a bike was very straight forward. Just undo the strap by loosening the ratchet, and pull the clamp arm out as far as possible. Pick up the bike, swing the bikes rear wheel under the strap, center the front wheel in the cradle, rotate the clamp arm up and towards the fork, and give a slight snug down. Ratchet the strap tightly, and then give a good push on the clamp arm and your done. I drive like a crazy man (my Wife would concur), and the bike stayed nice and secure with all my nutty aggressive driving habits.

nv_strap_clamp

Removing the bikes is straight forward, just reverse the process. Push the arms in when done, and ratchet in the straps, and then pull the lower gold lever and push the rack up vertical for space saving.

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About the author: Brian Mullin

Brian has been part of the Mtbr team since 2007, where he has become an integral member of the review and test staff, specializing in technical articles. He likes to push the limits in all the sports he obsesses in, whether it's mountain biking, whitewater kayaking, extreme skiing, or sport climbing. He takes those same strengths and a good dose of insanity to his reviewing and writing on mountain biking products, creating technical, in-depth and hyperbolic articles. Whenever he's not on the bike, he might be found watching MotoGP racing, otherwise look for him out on extremely technical singletrack.


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  • qwerty says:

    I just used mine for the first time last weekend. It is a nice rack. My only problem with it is that you cannot open your tailgate all the way without hitting the rack and damaging the tailgate (2010 Toyota Tacoma). The height of the rack above the hitch is excessive – any way you configure it. They need to make a lower profile design.

  • pinkrobe says:

    I’ve had a Sherpa on my car for about a week, and I’m pretty jazzed thus far. With two bikes on, I can easily drop the rack down and lift the hatch up. The action is smooth and easy. A 29×2.4 Ardent fits nicely, but so does a road bike. The thing I like the most is the speed – bike on, bike off! Maybe 10s per bike, and that’s if I’m taking my time…

  • Brian Mullin says:

    qwerty:
    They upgraded the NV and shortened the stack height of the hitch to cradle by 2.5 inches (i.e. a lower profile).

  • Diesel says:

    From Brian’s review:

    “Aligning the holes so that the receiver pin could be inserted, took some finesse, but that’s the same with any trailer hitch work.”

    You really need one of these…best $10 I’ve spent:

    http://www.1upusa.com/1upusarackhitchcollar.htm

    -D

  • gearwhine says:

    I just bought one of these used a month or so ago. With both bikes still in the rack and the rack tilted won…I can lower my tailgate fully on my 2004 dodge ram 1500. The fact that the rack works perfectly with this truck makes this rack worth gold…but I want the 2 bike extension to be released!

  • Brian Mullin says:

    Diesel…thks for the pointer to the hitch collar, looks like a neat idea, I will have to try one out!

  • Andrew says:

    I really like my NV. The customer service from Kuat is really top notch. I really enjoy the build quality and the ease of use of the rack on my Acura MDX (2005).

  • Johnny says:

    I have just purchased the new “NV” rack and am impressed with it’s quality, but I noticed something I thought I would make other users, and possibly the manufacturer, aware of.

    Because the shop that I purchased from screwed up the assembly of my rack, I had to tear it down and reassemble it…the right way.

    I noticed that they had connected trays & arms opposite of what is shown in booklet. When reassembling the long thru bolts that connect tray wings to main arm, I noticed that the bolts came up about 1/8″ shy of the very exterior of the nut. These nuts are not a lock-nut design, so they instead have a bead of “locktite” applied to the threads to prevent any possibility of loosening from road vibration. The issue is that the locktite is applied at the very outer edge of the nut, which is where the bolt comes up short. Effectively, the bolt never makes the connection at the point of the nut where the locktite has been applied.

    If you are following me, you should have visions of the possibility of several months or years down the road from now, bombing along and having the tray assembly dissconnecting and losing your load as a result of road vibration and no locktite connection!

    Do yourself a favor and apply some addtional locktite deeper into the threads of the nut/bolt assembly. Ounce of prevention….

    Safe travels,
    Johnny

  • Brian Mullin says:

    I just checked mine and the threads stick 1/16 or so past the nut. Did you torque them down enough? Those are pretty big bolts and can take a lot of force. If you have any issues please contact Kuat, they do listen.

  • Mike says:

    That’s a sick rack and an even sicker Moots. Jealous.

  • Milton says:

    Really nice rack, but could you comment on its long term performance/durability. Plenty of initial reviews on the net, would like to know how it’s holding up after almost two years (if you still have it) Seen some complaints about the arms not extending with the same ease as new and also the finish not holding up as well. Don’t get me wrong, according to the reviews it’s in another league compare to the other brands, but this is my only concern. I’ve narrow it down between this and the 1UP USA rack.
    Thanks!

  • Jim says:

    @ Milton, The issues with the arms occurred in the beginning batches of these units. The issue has been corrected with all current manufactured rack units. As for the finish, I have not heard of any reported issues.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    @Milton: the rack is still going strong, no issues with the arms or finish, though the connector end of the locks have a touch of rust, which a quick spray of lube has kept it to a minimum. I am currently testing the newest batch, with a 2 bike extension (four in total), so I will be updating this review shortly.

  • John says:

    How well does the Kuat NV or the 1up USA work with bikes that have fenders?

  • Brian Mullin says:

    John: It works alright, but it doesn’t allow you to push the front arm down as hard as I like to. I had a E-Bike that had fenders, and the bike never wandered out of place or anything, so it kept it secured.

  • MSport says:

    Does the Kuat NV develop too much play after some time? I’m worried that my bikes will end up bouncing up and down excessively, based on what I’ve read.

  • Brian Mullin says:

    MSport: It hasn’t caused me any issues. It doesn’t bounce any more than other brands, and the bikes are solidly attached. The hitch itself has a hand tightener so you can remove any play.

  • MSport says:

    Your feedback means a lot since I understand you’ve been using the Kuat NV for years. Thanks Brian.

  • Ed B says:

    Wondering how the rack works with 4 bikes. I had a Thule T2 set up for 4 bikes. The Thule has some adjustability with the trays as you can stagger them. This way with 4 bikes you can keep from having seats rub on bars and from having bars/controls rubbing on each other. I see with Kuat the trays are fixed. Would like to know how it works with 4 mountain bikes.

  • Garren says:

    B. Mullin. Please let us know how the 2 bike extension is working out.

  • Tripp says:

    Brian, any update on the 4 bike unit?

  • Ramon says:

    I too would like to see your review/ thoughts on the 2 bike extension. Just purchased the nv and couldn’t be happier. Curious on the weight and bike spacing.

    • Mark says:

      We have been using the NV with extension. 3 x 26″ MTB’s and 1 x 24″ (myself, wife and 2 kids). The 4-bike version is heavy, but once you get the lifting method down it’s easy enough to fold it up. My wife is barely 5′ tall and she is routinely folding the rack up on her own. We have a Ford Freestyle and you can definitely feel the car sway with the combined weight of the rack and 4 bikes. Customer service was great! One of the ratchet arms was missing the inner pin when I first received it. One call, a quick explanation of the problem, my address details and I had TWO new arms at the door in 48-hrs!! Try that with Thule or Yakima! Highly recommend the rack.

  • Fed up says:

    God, really? Using plastic boobs and an actual fake woman to sell a bike carrying system? This industry is beyond retarded. Don’t you guys ever get tired of that shit? Don’t you ever want your wives treated like humans instead of objects? Don’t you ever want to speak up and let the industry know that your daughters aren’t sex objects?

    No? Really?

  • jay says:

    i have been searching for ever trying to find a rack almost decided to just go with the more common thule t2 rack then i watched a video where the rack was on an f150 and there was no tailgate access. well i have the same setup you have a topper on a dodge dakota quad cab. i see you get tailgate access. have you found out if others with trucks and this rack have tailgate issues. or even the older toyota4runners with a tailgate style hatch have problems

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