Hands-on Gear Review

Kuat Sherpa 2.0 Review

Price:  $498 List | $489.00 at Amazon
Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, simple, foot pedal tilt mechanism
Cons:  Lacks versatility, expensive
Bottom line:  The Sherpa is a lightweight hitch rack with some nice features and a good looking powder coat finish.
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  Hitch (tray)
Bike Capacity:  2
Weight:  32 lbs
Manufacturer:   Kuat

Our Verdict

The Kuat Sherpa is an excellent tray-style hitch mount bike rack that narrowly missed a spot on our awards podium. The simple design and light weight made it a favorite amongst our testers. Smart features like the foot lever tilt release enhance ease of use. It is also one of the nicer looking racks we tested.

Product Updates
Kuat tells us the Sherpa 2.0 has been completely redesigned this year. Keep reading to see how this rack has evolved!


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Bike Racks for Hitches, Cars, and SUVs


Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Curtis Smith

Last Updated:
Monday
April 23, 2018

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The 2018 Kuat Sherpa 2.0 vs. the 2017 Sherpa 2.0


The Sherpa 2.0 has some lock updates, larger trays, and a new paint job, amongst other updates. Compare the two racks in the photos below, with the latest version pictured on the left, and see the bullet points below for more details on the new rack.

Kuat Sherpa 2.0
  • Larger trays — The trays are a bit larger on this new version, equipped to carry a bike with up to 3" tires.
  • Cable lock updates — The 6' security cable no longer connects to the hitch pin, but clicks into a lock receptacle on the outside of the bike tray.
  • Folding tire cradles — The front tire scoop now folds down flat for more clearance.
  • Price increase — With these updates, the price has jumped $8, from $490 to $498.

We haven't used this most recent version of the Sherpa yet, so any text that follows refers to the original Sherpa 2.0.

Hands-On Review of the Kuat Sherpa 2.0


The Sherpa is a lower priced option to the outrageously expensive Kuat NV. It lacks some of the adjustability of the NV but retains the aesthetically pleasing design that Kuat is known for at a lower price point. It is lightweight and easy to use, but the lack of adjustability and a maximum tire size of 3" hurt the overall score.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 was a favorite amongst our testers and narrowly missed out on our Awards Podium.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 was a favorite amongst our testers and narrowly missed out on our Awards Podium.

Ease of Everyday Use


Tray style hitch racks like the Sherpa make loading and unloading bikes easy due to their low loading height. Beyond the height that the bikes must be lifted too, the ergonomics of the front wheel clamps and rear wheel straps come into play. The Sherpa uses the same ratcheting front wheel clamps as the more expensive NV, the arm is easy to release and clamp in place. The front wheel trays on the Sherpa fold closed and must be folded open before use, unlike the other models we tested that have fixed front wheel trays. The rear wheel straps pivot to accommodate different wheel base lengths unlike the sliding straps on the Thule T2 Pro XT.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 features a large tilt release lever that can be activated with a foot when the rack is in the vertical position.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 features a large tilt release lever that can be activated with a foot when the rack is in the vertical position.

Rather than the now commonplace remote tilt release handle found on the T2 Pro, Yakima Dr. Tray, and the RockyMounts BackStage the Sherpa uses a lever back at the main pivot point. When the rack is in the folded up position, the lever can be depressed by pushing it with a foot and pulling the rack down with one hand.

The foot release is a nice feature compared to competitors like the T2 Classic, which requires two hands to accomplish the same task. When the rack is in the horizontal position, lowering the model becomes a two hand operation as the lever is no longer accessible to release with your foot. The remote release handle system is much easier to use than the Sherpa design, but the foot pedal is an improvement on older models.

Ease of Removal and Storage


The Sherpa shines here and is one of the highest scoring racks in our review. At 32lbs it is the lightest hitch rack in the test. Carrying the Sherpa is a pleasure compared to the BackStage which weighs in at 60lbs. The Sherpa uses an expanding cam system that is similar to the T2 Pro, but rather than incorporating the lock into the cam system, Kuat sticks with a locking hitch pin for security. Storing the Sherpa is more feasible than other racks we tested due to the small overall size and the little weight. If you are looking for a hitch rack that is fast and easy to remove the Sherpa is a great option.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is the lightest hitch rack we tested and folds up relatively small compared to other available hitch racks.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is the lightest hitch rack we tested and folds up relatively small compared to other available hitch racks.

Versatility


This contender scores lower here than many of its competitors. The trays are fixed in position, so adjusting spacing between bikes is not an option. Despite the trays being fixed in place, the Sherpa does boast 14.5" of spacing between the trays, a number that is only rivaled by the Dr. Tray which has 17" of spacing with the trays set at maximum spacing. While the distance between the trays is good, the lack of lateral adjustability can make it impossible to get some bikes on the rack. The Sherpa is also limited to a tire size of 3". A few years ago this would have hardly been a liability, but with the current popularity of plus sized tires and fat bikes, this seriously limits the versatility of this rack.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is limited to 3" wide tires  so there are better options for fat bike owners.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is limited to 3" wide tires, so there are better options for fat bike owners.

Ease of Assembly


Our experiences assembling Kuat racks in the past have been a bit frustrating. The design of the Sherpa is different than the NV though, and we found it much easier to assemble. The NV trays are composed of two separate pieces that attach to the main support arm with two long bolts that are difficult to line up. The Sherpa has one piece trays that are much easier to attach to the main support arm. In addition to the different design, Kuat ships the Sherpa in an awesome box that aims to assist in the assembly of the rack, by supporting the main frame while the trays are attached. Despite the fact that the amount of assembly required the Sherpa was one of the easier contenders to build due to smart packaging and easy to follow directions.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is shipped in a box that is designed to aid in assembly by supporting the rack.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is shipped in a box that is designed to aid in assembly by supporting the rack.

Security


The Sherpa utilizes a non-integrated cable lock that can be noosed around the frames of the bikes on the rack. The cable attaches to a lock on the rack itself, similar to the design of the RockyMounts BackStage. We initially did not like these cable systems, because it meant stowing a cable in our vehicles when not in use. However, they are easier to use than a poorly designed integrated lock such as the cable system found on the Yakima Dr. Tray.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 uses a noose style cable locking system with the lock built into the rack.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 uses a noose style cable locking system with the lock built into the rack.

To secure the rack to your vehicle, Kuat sticks with the tried and true locking hitch pin. We prefer the system used on the T2 Pro, that disables the expanding cam release for ease of use, but there is no disputing that a locking hitch pin works. It is just an extra step that is not required with other designs.

Kuat sticks with the tried and true locking hitch pin design to secure the  Sherpa to the hitch receiver.
Kuat sticks with the tried and true locking hitch pin design to secure the Sherpa to the hitch receiver.

Durability


Our silver colored test version of the Sherpa held up well during testing. The gloss metallic powder coat finish looks nice, but does scratch rather easily, compared to the black finish on the T2 Pro. The all aluminum construction is resistant to corrosion, and the rack as a whole has a solid, well-built appearance. The weak point on the rack is the plastic flip up wheel trays, which could be damaged rather easily if they were inadvertently left in the open position and suffered some impact. The knob that turns the cam device to eliminate wobble is also prone to damage in its position on the lower rear portion of the rack. The higher scoring T2 Pro has a nice skid plate welded in place to prevent damage to its cam knob.

The flip up plastic wheel trays are the weak point of the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 design when it comes to durability.
The flip up plastic wheel trays are the weak point of the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 design when it comes to durability.

Best Applications


The Sherpa is best suited to the rider who is committed to standard tire sizes. If you have any interest in plus tire bikes, you may want to consider a rack like the T2 Pro which is compatible with a wider range of tires.

Value


The Sherpa retails for $498 and is a great value. It is around $80 cheaper than the T2 Pro XT and $150 cheaper than the Kuat NV. The Sherpa is a solid rack and well worth the asking price.

Conclusion


The Sherpa is an awesome competitor and a favorite amongst our testers for its simple, lightweight design. It does lack some of the versatility of other racks due to its fixed trays and lack of compatibility with tires larger than 3". For those committed to standard tire sizes, the Sherpa is a good rack. It should also be on your short list if you frequently remove your rack, or move it between vehicles.

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a solid lightweight rack that can handle the needs of most riders.
The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a solid lightweight rack that can handle the needs of most riders.
Curtis Smith

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Most recent review: April 23, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
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