Hands-on Gear Review

Kuat Trio Review

The Trio is an awesome fork mount roof rack that can hold almost any type of axle.
Trio
By: Curtis Smith ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Sep 1, 2017
Price:  $189 List  |  $184.95 at Amazon
Pros:  High end construction, capable of carrying a wide range of bikes, easier to load than wheel on models,
Cons:  Ease of assembly could be easier, boost hub adapters not included
Manufacturer:   Kuat
76
OVERALL
SCORE


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

Our Verdict

The Kuat Trio is fork mount roof rack that can carry almost any type of bike regardless of axle standard; it is the winner of our Editors' Choice Award for Roof Racks due to its 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. On top of the innovative design, the Trio is a beautiful rack.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Kuat Trio is one 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, it is one of the best looking roof racks on the market.

Performance Comparison


The Kuat Trio is the winner of our Top Pick award.
The Kuat Trio is the winner of our Top Pick award.

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 High Roller do not require the removal of the front wheel, but this also means you have to lift the bike much higher to get the front wheel in the tray. The Trio is much 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 through 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 tub 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 pain. The dual u-bolt design of the front cross bar 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, then the Yakima Front Loader is a great option.


Versatility


This model is our highest scoring roof rack in this category.


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.

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 cross bars available from Yakima and Thule.

The Kuat Trio comes with a 20mm axle adaptor.
The Kuat Trio comes with a 20mm axle adaptor.

Ease of Assembly


This contender arrived mostly assembled right out of the box. You will need to select the correct axle adaptor for the bike you will 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 will want to keep track of this one.

Getting the U-bolts tightened down is not difficult, but it takes some time because it is 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 small metal strap with two wing nut knobs. Overall, this is not a difficult assembly, but as with most roof racks we have tested, you would not want to be removing this contender on a daily basis.

The Kuat Trio ready for assembly.
The Kuat Trio ready for assembly.

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 theft proof, we feel that the cable on the Trio is the 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 Trio) to remove the rack. While not foolproof, 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 competitor to be exceptionally durable.


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

Best Applications


The Trio is best suited to users who are utilizing a roof rack system and have multiple types of bikes with different axle standards. It is particularly well suited to those who have vehicles with high roofs that make racks such as the Yakima High Roller impractical or impossible to use.

Value


At $189, this contender is a bit pricier the RockyMounts JetLine, winner of our Best Buy award. But the JetLine and most fork mount roof racks are only compatible with 9mm quick release forks, unless you buy an adapter, which will set you back at least $40 and will typically only work with one axle standard. 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 have earned it our Top Pick award.

Curtis Smith

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Most recent review: September 1, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 100%  (1)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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