A new car situation earlier this year found me in the market for a hitch rack. While not the owner of a fat bike at the time, I knew one was in my future and this weighed in my decision as to which one to get. I immediately ruled out hanging type racks due to the fact that, in addition to the bikes rubbing and banging against one another, everyone I know with one has fit issues as soon as there is more than one bike on the rack. With this in mind, it was obvious that a tray style rack was the way to go. While there are a number of decent tray style racks out there including offerings from Yakima, Thule, & Saris my sites quickly fell on the bling factor of the racks from 1up USA and Küat. Both of these racks fall on the upper end of the quality (and price) spectrum and would make anyone who owned one a very happy cyclist. Since these racks were both capable of handling road and mountain bikes this left two main deciding factors – 1) could they carry up to four bikes with an add on and 2) could they handle a fat bike with minimal issues. I had already eliminated the offerings for Yakima, Thule, & Saris due to the fact that when it came down to hauling fat bikes, there were some compromises to be made – namely you have to deflate at least one of the tires to get them to fit securely (of course, that means you have to reinflate them every time you get to the trail head and lets face it, that’s a huge pain). After a little research, I found that the 1up would not fit fat bikes due to limited width of the wheel braces but there were some people on the Internet that had modified them with some spacers and made it work (since then, 1up has come out with a spacer kit for fat bikes). However, the 1up is limited to carrying only 2 bikes with no possibility of an add-on to carry more. That left the Küat.
My plans quickly moved to the Küat NV (http://kuatinnovations.com/) due to the possibility of a 2-bike add on, integrated cable lock, and built-in work stand. With the Küat NV, the front wheel trough is wide enough to accommodate a 3.8” tire (Endo, Larry, Black Floyd, Nate, etc) or even a Big Fat Larry (on 82 mm rims) without issue. Since the front wheel brace arm extends enough to handle a 29er tire, everything is secured tightly with no hoops to jump through for fat bikes, even with a front rack installed.
For the back, the Küat has an open platform where tire size isn’t a factor except for the ratchet strap that secures the tire to the platform, which is too short. Here lies the only issue with the rack and it’s one that Küat is fully aware of. They used to sell a strap extender (for deep dish road wheels) but this is no longer available. However, all is not lost – because as of this review, Küat are in the process of developing a newer version of their strap, for release in the very near future. In the mean time, I have been using a locking bungee cord to keep the rear wheel secured. This has worked flawlessly but I do look forward to the factory strap for a cleaner look. Once Küat releases this new, longer strap, they will be the only tray style hitch rack on the market that accommodates fat bikes without any modification (i.e., deflating tires, spacer kits, etc.).
Overall the build quality of the Küat is top notch. It’s constructed from thick gauge, heat treated aluminum and so it is a little lighter than a few of the other racks out there that are built out of steel but it’s still pretty burly. The welds are solid and it’s all put together with some nice heavy-duty bolts. The finish is highly durable and is a combination of powder coating and anodizing. The rack has a weight limit of 120 lbs (60lbs per bike). With two bikes on the rack there is ample clearance between the two bikes. There is a two bike add on for the 2” receiver version of the rack so carrying four bikes is a possibility if the need ever arises. Bikes are secured firmly in place and the rack doesn’t move at all when traveling down the road even at highway speeds. I’ve had two fat bikes on the back and the rack was still rock solid. The integrated cable lock is a nice feature that works as advertised. The cable, which is in two pieces, is stored in the wheel trays and is long enough to secure two bikes though the rear wheels & chainstays. The integrated workstand, while minimalist in nature, gets the job done for parking lot repairs.
The rack tilts downward with a release lever to allow access to the rear of the vehicle. For my 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the rack tilts enough for me to open the rear hatch completely, which is a great feature as it allows complete access to the rear cargo area of the vehicle without removing the bikes. Also included with the rack are a locking hitchpin as well as 6 keys and a hex wrench to tighten the hitch wedge. Of Küat’s other rack offerings, only the NV Core would also work without issue for fat bikes as it’s just a paired down version of the NV. Their other tray rack offering, the Sherpa, may or may not be fat bike compatible due to a slightly different design.
So if you are in the market for a hitch rack that can accommodate fat bikes with little compromise (and once the extender strap is released, no compromises) I can highly recommend you check out the Küat NV.
Get the Kuat NV 2 Bike Tray Hitch Rack from: Jenson USA!
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