I’ll get right to the point. The Kuat NV bike rack is the Mercedes of bicycle racks.
|Bike Loading Convenience||Security|
|‘Shock and Awe’ Value||Pricing|
It Started With An Email
When Bill from Küat bike racks emailed me not long ago and offered to send one of their racks my way, subject to my highly-refined critiquing skills, I was flattered.
Particularly in light of the fact that my level of discernment was unable to even figure out what to do with the name Küat. The dilemma revolved around the Ü. It has a horizontal colon over it.
What’s a guy supposed to do with a horizontal colon?
Anyhow, I found out that the horizontal colon is actually called a ‘umlaut’ and that it signifies a deviation from the normal pronunciation of the vowel.
The ‘Ü’ is pronounced ‘oo’, like in the word exuberant. The ‘AT’ is pronounced like in the surname ‘Atkinson’, which happens to be the name of one of the founders of Küat, Brian Atkinson. The ‘Kü’ is derived from the other founder’s name; Luke Kuschmeader.
The name ‘Küat’ with the umlaut serves to catch attention (good marketing idea), but raises untold problems for this critiquer, who spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to publish the special Ü. (from this point forward, I’ll just use a normal U…but you can read it as an ‘oo’ if you’d like to)
While I’m at it, I’ll confess that it took me another large block of time (several weeks) to realize that the ‘NV’ has nothing to do with the state of Nevada. It’s a whole lot simpler than that…
Sort of like- “I don’t envy anyone who gets stuck in the pace line behind stinky Albert.”
Based in Springfield, Missouri, Kuat introduced the Kuat NV model in October of 2009.
There is a lot of attention to detail in the Kuat NV rack. I hardly know where to start to make this review orderly, so I suppose I’ll just write it like I organize my garage- free form.
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Is The Kuat NV Manly?
I guess I’ll start with the initial lifting. I was caught off guard by the approximately 50 lbs.
The Kuat NV rack is manly, not at all like a spritz of lemon.
I’d been doing some research and mistakenly thought that the rack would be lightweight. I was confused by the Alpha and the Beta, which weigh 13 and 11 lbs respectively. This rack is very solidly made (not that the Alpha and Beta aren’t; but you won’t be throwing the Kuat NV across the yard to your friend). The welds are well done and the four bolts that are included for assembly are stout.
‘It’s all good’ (Good lord, how I hate that expression!), but the weight of the Kuat NV surprised me.
One of the most impressive Kuat NV features (in the arena of attention to details) is the built-in cable lock to lock your bike(s) to the rack. It’s pulled out of the innards of the rack and threaded through the frame(s) and rear wheel of the bike(s). When it isn’t being used, it retracts into the arms of the Kuat NV and is secured out of the way with a magnet. Remain patient, grasshopper; the video at the end will demonstrate this feature.
Now you won’t have to bring that awkward curly cable lock when you haul your bikes. Very nice.
The hitch pin has a lock on it to keep thieves from walking off with the whole enchilada, with a cover over the lock to keep dirt and grime out of the tumblers.
If you’ve ever been annoyed by a rattling bike rack, you’ll like the tightener that’s built into the Kuat NV hitch. After you’ve put the rack into the receiver, you ‘snug it in’ by turning a knob, which pulls a wedge up tight in the receiver. It’s a nice touch.
Speaking of receivers, you can get the hitch in either a 1¼” or 2″ version.
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Compromising Accommodating Positions
The Kuat NV can be put into three positions and the positions are changed via a spring-loaded lever. Of course you have your ‘up’ position for storage, both while the rack is on the vehicle with no bikes on it and when it is in the garage trying to take up as little room as possible.
When the Kuat NV is in the ‘up’ position, a very stylish Kuat decal lets everyone know that you have enough class to carry your bikes on a high-quality rack.
Of course there is the carrying position for when the bikes are loaded, and then there is the ‘lowered’ position. This position lets you lower the Kuat NV with the bikes still on it so that you can more easily get into the back of your SUV, Crossover, Hatchback, or whatever else you want to call your car.
As you can see from the pictures, the Kuat NV holds the bikes in a tray with a ratcheting arm coming down onto the front tire. Hanging a carbon road bike frame by its top tube doesn’t make sense, so this style’s much more appropriate for a lot of us. Not having to hoist a bike up onto the roof of the car is welcome, particularly amongst us older fellers who don’t want to strain a sacroiliac joint.
The strap that secures the rear wheel to the Kuat NV slides back and forth to accommodate a variety of ‘wheelbase’ lengths. I think they’ve thought of just about everything. The arm that comes down onto the front wheel expands to 33″ so it can accommodate the new mountain bike 29ers. With a special attachment (included) the arm will compress down far enough to carry a little 20″ wheel.
Now the kids’ bikes can get a ride on the Mercedes of bike racks.
The arm on the Kuat NV has an internal ratcheting system to keep it away from dirt and it ratchets down in small increments for a more precise fit. After the arm contacts the tire, it’s best to push down an additional one or two clicks to really secure the bike.
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The Shock And Awe Factor
And then there’s the feature that will be sure to catch a lot of attention at any bike race.
The built-in mechanic’s clamp!
The Kuat NV clamp provides 8 rotational positions so a rider should be able to position their bike exactly where they want it.
There is one easily rectified problem- the post and clamp aren’t locked to the rack. I guess a guy’ll have slide it off the rack and put it into the vehicle when it’s not in use. The guys at Kuat are heavy-duty into the mountain bike scene. Their marketing angle on the clamp is that you’re able to make trail-head adjustments to the bike.
But I’m thinking that if a guy were to take the Kuat NV and built-in clamp to a road race, you’d become a pseudo-celebrity. The fame may be short-lived (until other racers start showing off with their own Kuat NV mechanic’s stands), but such is the nature of fan-based popularity.
In Nor-Cal there are hundreds of racers buzzing around the start/finish area. The reaction to the Kuat NV built-in work station is sure to be the same as a lonely guy taking a puppy to a Pilate class. Only you’ll have sweaty bike racers milling around your bumper, instead of well-conditioned spandex queens.
Here’s A Great Summary Of The Kuat NV Features By The Guys At Kuat (Out Of The Horses’s Mouth!)
Drum roll for the Kuat NV, Please…
Well, there you have it…
The Kuat NV is a very, very nice bike rack. The workmanship is excellent and it’s evident from the features and innovations that the rack is designed by cyclists, not corporate suits.
The Kuat NV price tag is healthy ($495.00 MSR), but considering how much we’re spending on ‘all things bike’, it fits nicely into the upper-end cycling niche.
I know that the Kuat NV can be locked securely to the back of my Toyota, but until it gets that first ding or two, the voice inside my head says that the rack is too nice to just leave on the bumper.
But that’s a bit misguided (as are a good number of my thoughts), since the Kuat NV rack is made to be used. I suppose it’s a similar dilemma that owners of shiny new pick-up trucks come up against. “You want me to haul steer manure in the new Ford 150? Are you crazy?”
But that doesn’t make it any easier to get that first scratch on a new Kuat NV bike rack…
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|About the reviewer: Ron Fritzke is a cycling product reviewer with a passion for ‘all things cycling’. A former 2:17 marathoner, he now directs his competitive efforts toward racing his bike…and looking for good cycling products.|
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