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Kuat Trio Review

This is an awesome fork mount roof rack that can hold almost any type of axle
Kuat Trio
Photo: Kuat
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $198 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  High-end construction, capable of carrying a wide range of bikes, slightly easier to load than wheel on models
Cons:  Ease of assembly could be easier, have to lift bike to roof level to load/unload
Manufacturer:   Kuat
By Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 1, 2017
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 23
  • Ease of EveryDay Use - 20% 7
  • Ease of Removal and Storage - 20% 5
  • Versatility - 20% 7
  • Security - 20% 9
  • Ease of Assembly - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The Kuat Trio is a fork-mount roof rack that can carry almost any type of bike regardless of axle standard. It quickly became one of our most highly regarded roof racks due to its high-end finish, awesome durability, and ease of use. Top-quality construction and materials are what we have come to expect from Kuat, and the Trio is no exception. It holds the bike securely by the fork with a slightly lower loading height than wheel-on roof racks. When loading different bikes, changing between different size front axles is relatively quick and easy. It also comes with an integrated cable lock to help secure your precious cargo.

Updated Skewers

Since our test period, Kuat has changed the fork adapters included with this rack. The Trio is now equipped with 9×100, 15×100, and 15x110mm Boost adapters — the latter of which was mainly added to comply with many newer mountain bikes on the market.

November 2019

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Pros High-end construction, capable of carrying a wide range of bikes, slightly easier to load than wheel on modelsReasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locksSecure hold, easy rack installation/removal, no bike frame contactNo front wheel removal, holds any axle type, easy installVery inexpensive, no assembly required, lightweight, folds small for storage
Cons Ease of assembly could be easier, have to lift bike to roof level to load/unloadSits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly requiredWorks best on lower vehicles, harder to load bike, lock cores not included for integrated lockNo locks included, difficult to load, not fat bike compatibleNot adjustable, support arms may not work with all frame shapes/styles, no security features
Bottom Line This is an awesome fork mount roof rack that can hold almost any type of axleA versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratioA quality roof-mount bike rack that is particularly easy to install and remove and works best with lower vehicles and lighter-weight bikesA favorite for sedans and other vehicles with low roof heightsA very affordable, bare-bones trunk rack for the infrequent rack user on a tight budget
Rating Categories Kuat Trio RockyMounts MonoRail Yakima HighRoad Yakima Front Loader Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...
Ease Of EveryDay Use (20%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease Of Removal And Storage (20%)
5.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Versatility (20%)
7.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Security (20%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
2.0
Ease Of Assembly (10%)
7.0
6.0
10.0
9.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Kuat Trio RockyMounts MonoRail Yakima HighRoad Yakima Front Loader Allen Deluxe 2-Bike...
Style Roof Hitch (tray) Roof Roof Trunk
Bike Capacity 1 2 1 1 2
Lock? Yes Yes Available but not included Yes, sold separately No
Weight 7 lbs 44 lbs 2 oz 18 lbs 13 lbs 7 lbs 9 oz
Other Sizes Available? No Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately No No Yes, 3 and 4 bike versions
Cross Bar Compatibility Most factory N/A T-slot compatibility with additional SmarT-Slot Kit Fits Yakima round, square, factory or aerodynamic crossbars N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Kuat Trio is one of the most versatile roof racks on the market. Being a fork mount rack, it requires removal of the front wheel, which makes it much easier to load than tray-style roof racks that clamp the front tire or frame. The unique skewer/axle system makes the rack compatible with almost any axle size or fork spacing. On top of all of this, we think it is one of the best-looking roof racks you can buy.

Performance Comparison


The Trio in action.
The Trio in action.
Photo: Curtis Smith

Ease of Everyday Use


After using this bike rack on a day-to-day basis for months, we can say that despite the extra hassle of removing a wheel, it is relatively easy to use.


One of the drawbacks of roof racks of any kind is the high load height as compared to a hitch mount rack. Racks such as the Yakima Front Loader do not require the removal of the front wheel, but this also means you have to lift the bike a bit higher to get the front wheel in the tray. The Trio is somewhat easier to load because the bike does not have to be raised as high. This is particularly important if you have a vehicle with a higher roof height, such as an SUV, van, or wagon. Once you align the fork of the bike with the axle, or the axle adaptor if you have a thru-axle fork, the bike can be steadied with one hand while you thread the axle or tighten the cam lever in the case of a 9mm axle. Swapping axle adaptors is accomplished by loosening the bolt with the skewer tube wrench, which allows the installed axle adaptor to be removed, and another axle adaptor to be inserted into the tray. The Trio comes with three separate adapters for 9mm, 15mm, and 20mm axles. The rear wheel can be secured by using the ratcheting rear-wheel strap.

Ease of Removal and Storage


The Trio takes up a limited amount of space when not in use, but removal is a bit of a pain. The dual u-bolt design of the front crossbar clamp requires tools for removal and takes a fair bit of time because all four bolts must be completely unthreaded to remove the rack. If you are looking for a rack that goes on and comes off easily, there are better options.


Versatility


The Trio is a relatively versatile rack that can carry just about any style of bike. It has a 45 lb weight limit, so it should be able to handle the weight of any bike that most people are willing to lift to roof height.


It is a fork-mount rack and comes with adaptors for 9mm, 15mm, and 20mm axles, making it capable of carrying anything from a road bike to a downhill bike. Also, Kuat has adapters available for the wider axle spacing found on fat bikes and plus bikes. Since it is a fork mount, frame design does not impact its ability to carry a given bike, and there is no contact with the frame, so you do not have to worry about vibration or friction damaging your bike.

The 9mm quick release adaptor for the Kuat Trio.
The 9mm quick release adaptor for the Kuat Trio.
Photo: Curtis Smith

The clamps that hold the rack to your vehicle's crossbars are also compatible with virtually every crossbar shape on the market, including round, square, oval, and the newer aero crossbars available from Yakima and Thule.

The Kuat Trio comes with a 20mm axle adaptor.
The Kuat Trio comes with a 20mm axle adaptor.
Photo: Curtis Smith

Ease of Assembly


The Trio arrived mostly assembled right out of the box. You will need to select the correct axle adaptor for the bike you'll be mounting and slide it into the tube on the tray, tightening the fixing bolt by using the skewer tube wrench (it is a 4mm Allen key).


The rack attaches to the vehicle crossbars with two U-bolt-style clamps that must be tightened down using the included wrench. The security bolts that hold the clamps have a unique head shape and can only be tightened or removed using the included wrench, so you'll want to keep track of this one.

Getting the U-bolts tightened down isn't difficult, but it takes some time because it's important to tighten in an alternating manner to ensure you have even tension across the four bolts. The crossbar strap is attached using two bolts that slide into a channel on the underside of the rack tray and the small metal strap with two wingnut knobs. Overall, this is not a difficult assembly, but as with most roof racks we've tested, you wouldn't want to be removing it on a daily basis.

The Kuat Trio ready for assembly.
The Kuat Trio ready for assembly.
Photo: Curtis Smith

Security


The Trio includes a sturdy large diameter cable lock that deploys from the rear of the tray; the lock is similar to the one found on the Kuat NV rack.


The cable is long compared to cables found on many other roof racks, making it possible to secure the frame and rear wheel of most bikes. While no locking system is completely theft-proof, we feel that the cable on the Trio offers the some of best protection available. The rack itself is secured using "security nuts" which resemble a standard hex key. After close inspection, we realized that it only has five sides, which would result in a thief needing to have this particular wrench (that comes with the Trio) to remove the rack. While not fool-proof, it is probably just as good as a lock because, in reality, if a thief wanted the rack, they would probably just cut the U-bolts with an angle grinder.

Durability


We found this Trio to be exceptionally durable. It is made from quality materials with a great finish that appears ready to handle many years of use and abuse.


The materials are top notch, and the powder coat finish is the most durable of any rack brand we tested. The Kuat NV has a similar finish, and we found it to be equally as durable. Despite spending an entire winter on the roof with a daily barrage of road salt and grime, there is not a speck of rust to be seen, even on the mounting bolts. The Trio is exceptionally stable in crosswinds and seems to be holding up well in all regards despite our abuse.

The anodized bits and powder coat finish make the Kuat Trio one of...
The anodized bits and powder coat finish make the Kuat Trio one of the best looking racks we have ever seen.
Photo: Curtis Smith

Value


With the Trio, you get compatibility with three axle standards out of the box with the ability to upgrade with adaptors for fat bikes. We feel that the versatility, combined with the aesthetics and ease of use, make the Trio an excellent value.

Conclusion


The Trio is a beautifully constructed fork-mount roof rack that provides an elegant solution to the multiple axle standards found on bikes. It is secure, durable, easy to use, and it will fit on the vast majority of cross bars. All of these attributes make it the most highly regarded fork-mount roof rack we've used.

Curtis Smith