Kuat NV 2.0 - First Impressions
In a nutshell, the Kuat NV 2.0 is a blend of simple elegance combined with functional design that caters to every level of cyclist from weekend warriors to the hard core mountain biker to fat bikers to roadies. What is most impressive is that Kuat took the feedback from their dealers and end users of the original Kuat NV to help design this version of the bike rack. We commend the folks at Kuat for listening closely, staying true to their philosphy and remaining humble..
We geeked out on this rack on a Friday afternoon shortly after receiving our first order. Unboxing the contents of the rack, our team found a well-packaged system that includes a significant amount of packaging protection to keep the rack safe and secure in the hands of the shipping companies.
Inside the box, you'll find a warranty registration card to register your product with Kuat. One thing we've learned from Kuat over the last several years as a dealer is that they have an excellent warranty and great customer service if issues arise.
Assembly is relatively straightforward and can be completed realistically in about 30 minutes for a first-timer. The Kuat NV 2.0 instructions are put together with end-users in mind, so they are pretty explicit. While it can be done with one person, having a 3rd hand does help when assembling the wheel trays to the stinger base. We also noticed that Kuat had previously been wrapping parts in a hard-to-remove tape that took the better part of 30 minutes to remove. On the NV 2.0, we found minimal protection tape, but it was much more user friendly, and made removal time nominal.
The fundamentals of the rack haven't changed. A 2-bike platform rack that can accomodate nearly every bike you throw at it. A hook arm secures the front wheel just in front of the fork, while a sliding strap secures the rear wheel that will accomodate any length wheelbase bike.
Different from the original iteration of the Kuat NV is the gray metallic color of the rack itself. Honestly, it's a perfect match to Toyota's metallic gray (coincidentally found on my 4Runner). Like the original Kuat NV, the rack is accented with anodized orange at the front wheel tray. Logos are water-transferred onto the wheel trays, so they won't show wear like a sticker.
Speaking of the front wheel tray, Kuat has made these lower profile and adjustable. This makes the Kuat NV 2.0 a frontrunner if you're driving a pickup truck and want that low-profile clearance needed to lower your tailgate without hitting the large plastic front wheel scoops found on the Yakima HoldUp or Thule T2Pro. Even more, the folks at Kuat made the front wheel tray adjustable into 3 positions by way of a single hex screw which will allow for better nesting of handlebars and saddles for those with non-adjustable seatposts and wide handlebars.
Even more, the hook arm that engages over the top of the tire has been made larger to accomodate Plus-Size 27.5" tires and fat bikes. The hook arms still have lots of engagement as it ratchets down, making it easy to get a snug fit on your tire without having to put your entire body weight behind it.
Strapping down the rear wheel is what makes the NV and the NV 2.0 so clean and simple. The strap adjusts accordingly to the bike wheelbase, and the full-length tray supports the back tire. It's that easy - and it works.
Access to the tilt controls of the rack are changed from a spring lever located low on the stinger, to an accessible foot/hand control lever located adjacent to the wheel tray closest to the vehicle. We found this lever to have excellent actuation for both tilting the rack up flat against the car, as well as tilting it away from the vehicle, even with bikes loaded. The lever protrudes a bit above the wheel tray, eliminating the need to reach under the rack. We have found this to be one of the nicest new features of the rack overall.
The piece-de-resistance of the new Kuat NV 2.0 is the redesigned Trail-Doc. Over the years, we've found people really liked the original NV for the built-in bike repair stand. The original design was worthy, but the new design found on the NV 2.0 is pro level. The Trail Doc no longer has a manual crank to get it tight around your seatpost or frame. Instead, it's controlled with 2 knobs on top. This eliminates any parts that protrude from the rack - right at knee or shin level.
The Trail-Doc now has a lever that allows the stand to raise and lower, and simple locks back in-place. This is super easy to use, and makes raising and lowering the rack a breeze compared to the old quick-release style of engaging.
If all of that isn't enough, the Trail-Doc can be removed from the rack altogether and inserted into the Kuat Tri-Doc (sold separately). The Tri-Doc is a tripod-style floor stand that accepts the Trail-Doc from the rack making it a fully-functioning bike repair stand that would work in a shop, garage, trailhead or race venue.
Of course the NV 2.0 is also expandable to carry 4 bikes with the Kuat NV 2.0 Add-On. On the original Kuat NV, making the rack into a 4-bike rack involved re-mounting the wheel trays to a closer spacing in order to keep the footprint low. On this version, the NV 2.0, with the adjusability of the front wheel tray, that is no longer necessary. Turning the NV 2.0 into a 4 bike rack is much quicker and simpler - a bonus for folks who mostly carry 1-2 bikes but occasionally need to carry 3-4 bikes.
Overall, we all agree at the shop that the Kuat NV 2.0 is single-handedly the nicest bike rack we've ever put our hands on. Design is thoughtful without being complicated or gimmicky. The rack has a sleek, firm feel that is sure to be the eNVy of other drivers on the road.