May 18, 2015 – Gone are the days where you have to pick between ugly, awkward metal contraptions that hold precious bicycles to your vehicle. Roof rack systems are great for getting your bikes out of the way and making good use of space, but they are often difficult to load, cut down on your gas mileage, make parking garages impassable and splatter your bike with dead bugs. While trunk mounted racks may get your bike from point “A” to point “B” there isn’t much of a guarantee that your bike or car isn’t going to get scratched along the way. This leaves us with tow hitch mounted options if you have the right type of vehicle. 

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If you own a vehicle that allows for a tow hitch mounted system it’s probably your best bet for keeping your prized possession safe and secure during transit. There are a number of good choices out there but one that continues to catch our eye is the Kuat NV. From afar and up-close it offers sexy lines and a finish so high quality that if you’re a car person and want an option that could enhance, or at least not detract from your car, you’ll probably be looking at the NV from Kuat.

Kuat came on to the scene a few years ago and made a splash with its stylish tailgate mounted bike racks. A few months ago we got an NV in for a long term test. Developed to be the ultimate tail hitch racks, the top of the line NV doesn’t lack much and is equipped to easily carry road or mountain bikes. The engineers behind Kuat’s NV aimed to not only put every feature you might want into a rack but also improve on what was currently available, all while making it look good too.

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Out of the box the NV assembly was pretty self explanatory, even for those of us who “don’t read directions” and often end up with a puzzled expression there are videos available on kuatracks.com to walk you through it. It took us less than 20 minutes to go from box to car hitch and we used all the parts! No random bolts left over like those Ikea shelves we built last month.

The standard NV will hold two bikes either road, mountain, or a combination of both and can account for various wheel sizes down to 20”. The NV holds your bike by the wheels, not the frame, which creates a lot of piece of mind if you ride an ultralight carbon rig. The rear wheel is held by a small ratchet strap and a extending ratchet arm firmly grips the front wheel nestling against the front brake. With an adapter you can carry an additional two bikes if you are using the 2” hitch option. There are three settings or levels at which you can set the rack. Fully up or the storage setting when not in use, flat for transporting, or the last setting which drops the bikes to an angle that makes loading and unloading easier.

Travel with bikes was super easy and secure. The expanding ball in the hitch eliminated the side to side wobble that plagues so many hitch racks, and locking a bike in place was quick and secure leaving little reason to double check your work. The Kuat NV, like other solid hitch mounts is quite heavy so some people may want a helping hand to get it set in the hitch receiver.

Other features that we enjoyed during the extended test were the included cable lock, although we wish it was a bit longer, and the built in TRAIL DOC which is a work stand that can be used at the trailhead or start of the group ride to quickly lube or tune your ride.

Although it’s a buyers market for car bike racks these days Kuat has found a place in the market and sets the bar very high with the NV.

The Details
Weight: 49lbs
Capacity: Two bikes with option optional extension for four.
Price: $549

For more information visit KuatRacks.com.