I had recently posted my thoughts on Thule hanging racks…and yes, I know there are different models. I did so in anticipation of trying out a Kuat NV rack…available at your local bike shop.
I had intended to take a bunch of pictures of the assembly process, but it turns out that assembly was stone-simple. In fact, the packaging of the rack and the simplicity of the assembly process surprised even the most stoic among us:
It assembled with 4 bolts. The side rails that bikes actually rest on bolted to the center column, like so:
(Ok, the bike stand (seen below) took 4 more allen screws, but was amazingly simple to install as well). The only caution I would offer is to follow the directions and make sure you install the side rails in the proper orientation. There is a RIGHT and WRONG way to assemble. If you do it right, when the rack is installed in a hitch and folded up, the KUAT on the back will be visible and properly oriented (i.e. not upside down).
So far, I’ve moved two bikes with it. The Vaya (dead simple, worked perfectly) and the Mukluk (which I was worried about). The Muk is currently sporting 4″ Husker Dü tires, which create 2 problems: 1) they don’t fit perfectly in the baskets on the rack at the front tire; and, 2) the rear tire strap isn’t long enough to fit around the rear tire.
Neither of those are really an issue…in front, it still sits securely on top of the basket, and the rounded profile of the tire makes it very secure. In back, use a bungie.
You can see the arm that holds the front wheel secures the bike in place; it prevents any fore/aft or lateral shifting of the bike. The arm is very sturdy and has no play–it works perfectly. Perfectly as in “driving 70mph with a steady bike on the rack” perfect. The arm rests at the tire/fork junction, and you press down on the arm to secure the bike. Pressing the button on top of the arm releases tension to pop the bike out.
Here’s my super-efficient rear tire security method:
A Big Dummy won’t fit on there, but all of my bikes fit nicely. (And even better–they’re centered on the rack).
The loop that goes over the front tire/fork has a rubberized coating so that it sticks to the fork, but doesn’t scratch anything.
Here’s the front tire in the basket…it just barely fits…but with the rounded profile of fat tires, even 4.7″ tires should work fine.
Folded up (Note–it isn’t wider than the car—that’s just forced perspective).
The folding mechanism is very secure. That little knob shown at the bottom is used to tighten up the rack in your hitch–there is no play in the rack, in the hitch, the arms, or anywhere. It’s impressively sturdy.
The rack comes with a locking hitch pin, and an integrated cable lock. I’d say the cable lock is low security…maybe enough to give some peace of mind if you’re paying for gas…but easily defeatable with a bolt cutter. I’ll use it as extra protection, but not as a standalone measure. But then again, I’m a bit A/R.
The rack also features a nifty, built-in work stand for your bike.
It’s very easy to use, very adjustable, reasonably sturdy, and very convenient. Call me impressed. In those pics, you can see that the rack itself folds up when not in use. It also folds down, tipping away from your car, so you can open the trunk / rear hatch even with bikes on the rack–a nice feature.
My overall impression is that this is a high-quality piece of kit. I’ll live with it for a few weeks and provide a follow-up report on how I like living with it over time.