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Hitch Rack Shootout – Küat NV

Our video of bikes being loaded on the Küat NV , stars our long time amigo and fellow hoosier, #Juliodotcom. It only makes sense, because the Kuat rack that we all tested, is his personal rack that he has owned for the last 4 years. Julio wrote a review of the Küat NV back in 2011 called Time Tested Thursday – Küat NV – Fat Friendly Hitch Rack. This little curve ball of throwing a 4 year old rack into this shootout, wasn’t our original plan. We planned to test the Kuat Transfer, but that rack needed a slight modification to be able to fit fat, and we knew that if we didn’t include Küat that our readers would ask why they weren’t considered. The Transfer design issue has been corrected and we’ll be testing that rack in a separate review, but because of time restraints, we included this 4 year old rack in the shootout. I think for many racks that would be a disadvantage, however, in the case of this Küat NV, it seems to be just the opposite. After 4 years of steady use and 4 midwest winters, with all of the road salt that this rack has endured, it still works great. This rack has all of the bells and whistles. It has an internal cable lock and a work stand, which all still function after a couple thousand days – and that says something about the quality of the materials and manufacturing that we can’t attest to on the other 3 contestants in the beauty pageant. Julio dug out a fat-bike.com black on black t-shirt for the video, so check that out and then read on for everyone’s two cents about the Küat NV.

First up is the groom to be, Evan LarSSon (he gets hitched tomorrow).

Küat Rack review – by Evan LarSSon

How the hell do I say this? Küat? Cooowhattt? Quaiddd? Sorry, Total Recall moment… Speaking of space, the NV looks like some kind of bike docking station. A powdercoated, gunmetal grey is complemented by anodized orange accents. Stainless steel hardware fastens all the pieces together for an extremely clean looking rack. It’s easy on the eyes but expensive. Picking up the rack wasn’t terrible but this one is the heaviest at forty nine pounds; Again, not terrible, but not light. Also similar to 1UP, Küat uses an internal “cam system” where you hand tighten a knob to secure the rack to the receiver. What I wanted on the 1UP, Küat delivered. A lockable pin is inserted to keep this space station to the mothership. The NV can fold up when not in use and down if you need to access your storage compartment with the simple flip of a swanky orange lever. Thank you! Someone was using their noggen in that other country from which this was imported*. They also built in an option for more than two bikes so another section can be added, for a price.

*Kuat is designed in the US and assembled in China

The Groom! Evan LarSSon

The Groom! Evan LarSSon

Wheel sizes are good up to 3″ if you want the tire to fit into the dish, but the reality is you can just set a larger wheel on top and it’ll be fine. 4″ Knards didn’t pose a problem. Once my fatty was loaded on, I balanced the bike with one arm and with the other brought the arm up and over the wheel with plenty of room to spare. Pressing the hook down over the tire it “clicks” in with a very tight and secure sound. I didn’t feel like I needed to muscle anything around to make sure it was tight. The rear wheel is held in place with a nice ratchet / buckle system that also felt very solid. Just like that, docking procedure complete. When flying around town I just felt better than everyone else, it’s true. I’m not apologizing for having a mobile bicycle shop, I mean there is a repair stand built into the rack! No more tree branch work stations and one less thing to bring to the trailhead. This means more room for beer! Seeing that we’re talking about a built-in, integrated locking system which is included, but again, like the Saris, the cable just comes up a little short when trying to lock down 2 bikes. With everything secure I took the loaded rack up to warp 7 on the hyperspatial express route and I almost forgot it was back there. Nothing could faze the mothership.
Arriving at my destination, unloading was a breeze. The way the bike was slightly pitched down, you didn’t encounter any overlap issues. Maybe I got lucky. Maybe it’s just built really really well. For what you throw down on it though it better be well built. Coming up over $500 this rack is on the higher end, but like I said, it’s a high end rack.

Next on our cavalcade of test pilots is the irrepressible, Juliodotcom! (he knows how to make the umlauts and a great cup of coffee)

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Küat NV

The Küat NV is a very nice looking rack.  Construction is very sold and the fit and finish is top notch.  Construction is mostly metal except for the plastic on the wheel trays, ends of the ratchet arms, and the wheel straps.  This solid construction comes at the cost of weight as the rack is a bit on the heavy side and can be a bit awkward to carry through the garage.  Its storage footprint isn’t too bad since the rack stores well with it folded in the upright position and resting on its tongue.  Installation is pretty straightforward.  The tensioning wedge does a good job of eliminating movement and the locking hitch pin provides some extra security.  The rack’s integrated cable lock, while a nice security feature which is able to secure two frames, does leave the front wheels vulnerable.  Loading of bikes is very intuitive.  The ratchet arm secures the front wheel with a little contact on the fork but it is rubber coated which should keep rub/wear to a minimum.  The ratchet straps that secure the rear wheel are easily adjustable for wheelbase and keep things secure.  However, the extender strap that is needed to accommodate fat bikes unfortunately has a bolt head that comes into contact with either the tire or the rim, which can be of concern especially for people with carbon rims.  Küat could easily remedy this by making the stock strap a bit longer to accommodate fat tires.  There is ample room with two bikes loaded with no contact between bikes and everything is held very secure.  I was able to carry a variety of wheel sizes (26×4, 29+, 29×2,24, 700×35, 700×23) with no issue.  With that said, it would be nice if the front wheel trays were slightly wider to better accommodate fat tires.  As is, they do an adequate job but fat tires approaching 5 inches don’t fully seat all the way down in the tray. Tilting the rack down (and it tilts quit a bit) to access the rear of the vehicle was easily accomplished via an easy to reach spring-loaded lever.  Another nice feature of the Küat is the built in work stand.  While this feature is pretty unique, I’m not sure how much it would get used but it’s nice to have it there if you need it (its also removable if you don’t want to use it).  Overall, I really like the Küat NV rack.  Its well built and has a lot of nice features.

A couple of Fat-Bikes fit fine

A couple of Fat-Bikes fit fine

I really liked the Küat. The rack is stylish and works very well. Julio hit every point that I was going to make about the straps not being kind to carbon rims and the cable for the lock not being quite as long as I would have liked, but the functionality of the rack and the fact that the rack we tested was a veteran of four Chicago winters and still looks this good is a pretty great testimonial for the Küat. Who would know better than Julio (his bad self) about how to review this rack? With all of that ‘hands on’ experience, I think that his assessments are right on target.

For further information about Küat  visit – www.kuatracks.com

Tomorrow, We’ll list all of the scores and wrap up Rack Week with some final thoughts and crown the Winner(s) of the Hitchrack Shootout!

 

 

 

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