Kuat NV 2.0 Review
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Kuat NV 2.0
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|Pros||Durable, versatile, integrated work stand||Easy tilt release function, durable, fat bike compatible, tool-free installation||Sturdy and stable, high weight capacity, optional ramp for loading heavy e-bikes, security features||Reasonably priced, highly versatile, solid construction, user-friendly tilt release, comes with locks||Pivot design enhances vehicle access, remote tilt lever, durable|
|Cons||Heavy, expensive, more difficult assembly, no tray adjustability||Hefty, pricey||Expensive, heavy and bulky||Sits slightly closer to vehicle than some, some assembly required||Heavy, pricey, limited tray clearance|
|Bottom Line||High-end durable hitch mount rack, with welcome upgrades to the original version||Impressively easy to use and highly versatile, we think this is the best hitch-mount rack on the market||This heavy-duty hitch rack can handle any bike in your stable and is great for transporting heavy e-bikes with the optional loading ramp||A versatile hitch-mount rack that provides a high price to performance ratio||A platform hitch rack with a swing-away feature for easier access to the back of your vehicle|
|Rating Categories||Kuat NV 2.0||Thule T2 Pro XTR||Yakima StageTwo||RockyMounts MonoRail||RockyMounts BackSta...|
|Ease of EveryDay Use (20%)|
|Ease of Removal and Storage (20%)|
|Ease of Assembly (10%)|
|Specs||Kuat NV 2.0||Thule T2 Pro XTR||Yakima StageTwo||RockyMounts MonoRail||RockyMounts BackSta...|
|Bike Capacity||2 (Up to 4 with add-on)||2 (Up to 4 with add-on)||2 (Up to 4 with add-on)||2 (Up to 3 with add-on)||2|
|Lock?||Yes||Yes||Locking hitch knob and security cables||Yes||Yes|
|Rack Weight||57 lbs 10 oz||51 lbs||63 lbs 8 oz||44 lbs 2 oz||60 lbs 3 oz|
|Max Weight Per Bike||60 lbs||60 lbs||70 lbs (60 lbs RV and 42 lbs Off-Road rated)||60 lbs||60 lbs|
|Min/Max Wheel Size||20" to 29" (20" to 24" require adapter)||20" to 29"||20" to 29"||20" to 29"||20" to 29"|
|Max Wheelbase||50" or 1,270mm||50" or 1,270mm||52" or 1,320mm||50" or 1,270mm||50" or 1,270mm|
|Max Tire Width||up to 5" with Phat Bike Kit||5"||3.25" (up to 5" with fat bike kit)||5"||5"|
|Other Sizes Available?||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes||Yes, 1.25" receiver and rack add-on for 2 additional bikes||Comes in 1.25" and 2" receiver sizes, 2 bike add-on sold separately||Yes, 1.25" reciever, single bike add-on sold separately||No|
|Cross Bar Compatibility||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kuat NV 2.0 is a high-quality platform hitch mount rack. The original NV is a previous winner of our coveted Editors' Choice Award, and the 2.0 continues in that tradition of quality. Best in class security features, a beautiful finish, and an integrated work stand separates the NV 2.0 from nearly every other hitch-mount rack on the market. Kuat has refined an already great product, although the new NV 2.0 has a few flaws.
Ease of Everyday Use
The NV 2.0 scores well here and is one of the user-friendliest racks we tested. The ratcheting arms are easy to snug up and easy to release, while the rear wheel straps are also well designed and easy to manipulate. The main mast pivot has seen a well-thought-out redesign from the previous version of the NV. It now incorporates a large lever at the pivot point, which makes lowering and raising the rack easier; the release lever is designed to be pressed on with your foot when the rack is in the upright position, eliminating the need to bend down to get the rack into the horizontal loading position.
When loaded with bikes, however, it's still a two-hand operation, and potentially a two-person operation depending on the weight of the load to lower the rack into the tilted down position. The NV 2.0 is outscored in this category by the Thule T2 Pro and the RockyMounts MonoRail both of which use a release handle on the end of the mast arm to lower and raise the rack. We applaud the pivot redesign on the NV 2.0, but it doesn't compare to the ergonomically excellent design of the Thule T2 Pro. Another gripe we have is the fixed position of the trays. The front-wheel cradle can be adjusted slightly, but the trays can't be adjusted horizontally, which can lead to handlebar and seatpost contact with certain bikes. While the rack certainly feels solid, we prefer having the ability to adjust the trays to avoid bike interference.
Ease of Removal and Storage
The NV 2.0 uses a similar vehicle attachment system to its predecessor. A knob on the end of the receiver arm is turned, which expands a cam system within the hitch receiver and eliminates wobble. This is similar to the system used on the Thule T2 Pro, but the Kuat system still requires a locking hitch pin, where the T2 Pro is locked to the vehicle by securing the lock at the tensioning knob. Both systems get the job done, but we have to give the T2 Pro the upper hand here when it comes to ease of use.
At 57 lbs and 10 oz, the NV 2.0 is also quite heavy. Given its size, it can be quite awkward to deal with when moving it from the vehicle to your storage location. Like most hitch-mount platform racks, it also takes up a fair amount of space wherever you choose to store it as it is quite large.
The NV 2.0 is among our highest scoring products when it comes to versatility. All of the platform hitch mount racks we have tested score well here, because they hold bikes at the tires, eliminating frame design variations or axle standards from the equation. The NV 2.0 and the Thule T2 Pro stand out due to their ability to carry bikes with tires up to 4.8" and wheel sizes from 20"-29". The NV 2.0 does require the use of an adaptor for 20" and 24" wheels, but the adaptor is provided free of charge by Kuat upon request.
The Kuat claims a 60 lbs per bike weight limit for the NV 2.0 which means that it should be able to handle just about any bike out there, including most heavy electric models. Kuat also sells a ramp that works with the NV models that allows the user to load the bikes by rolling them up the ramp instead of lifting them in to place. Should you ever want to expand the capacity of your rack, Kuat also sells 1 and 2 bike add-ons so you can create a 3 or 4 bike rack. Additionally, if you drive a van or similar vehicle, Kuat makes the Pivot v2 which can be added to the rack so you can swing it out to the side for easier access to the back of your vehicle.
It should also be noted that the Trail Doc work stand has been redesigned, with a quick ratcheting clamp, which makes securing a bike in the stand easier. We love this feature for quick trailhead repairs, but it's not as stable as a dedicated work stand. It's a great feature, but after years of using the work stand on the original NV, we've come to the conclusion that it's not a replacement for a high-quality home repair stand. It should also be noted that there is no provision for locking the Trail Doc feature, making it prone to theft.
Ease of Assembly
No beating around the bush here, the NV 2.0 is a bear to assemble. It does come with excellent directions, and reliable, durable tools that won't end up in the trash after you assemble the rack, but the assembly process is best approached with two people and some patience. Each tray on the NV 2.0 is composed of two sections that must be bolted to the main support mast and the bolts extend through both sections of the tray and the main mast. To assemble the rack, tray sections must be lined up with the holes on the mast. This process requires some patience and ideally two people because the individual tray sections and the mast are quite cumbersome and awkward to manipulate.
The Kuat NV 2.0 uses two burly cable locks, one extending from the back end of each tray to secure bikes. The cables are substantial in diameter and are designed to be looped through the rear triangle of the frame; the original NV used a single cable that had to be looped through the frame of both bikes. We like the individual cables for each bike, but wish they were longer to allow for the securing of the front wheel as well. That being said, the NV 2.0 still gets high marks for security due to the substantial diameter of the cables when compared to other racks we have tested with thinner cables.
While we were impressed by the security features of the NV 2.0, it is not infallible. The cable locks will certainly deter many opportunistic bike thieves but they can easily be cut by determined ones. We highly recommend spending a few extra bucks and adding a rugged aftermarket bike lock for maximum security.
Kuat has nailed it when it comes to durability. The powder-coated finish is simply more durable than the painted finish found on most other racks. It's hard to scratch and maintains a like-new appearance even following extended use. All of the moving parts also held up well during testing, and we had no issues with the central pivot or the ratcheting wheel clamps despite our abuse.
The NV 2.0 is one of the most expensive racks we've tested. It is a very high-quality rack and has features such as a built-in work stand which is not found on any other products. We are pretty cut and dry when it comes to value, either stating a product presents a good value, or it doesn't. However, the value of the Kuat NV is somewhat subjective to the prospective buyer. Whether or not it is or is not a real value is dependent upon how much aesthetics and the inclusion of a work stand are worth to you. If looks are secondary to function, and they are to us, then we would have to recommend you look elsewhere at racks that cost less and are more user-friendly.
The NV 2.0 is a beautiful rack and follows a logical progression from the original NV, with many worthwhile functional upgrades. While it is aesthetically pleasing and generally easy to use, it loses a little ground to the competition for its limited tray adjustability and lofty price of admission.
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