Tool or Jewel #3: The Most Expensive Bike Rack Money Can Buy

The most expensive bike rack money can buy is a close call between the hitch mounted Thule T2 Pro XT and the Kuat Sherpa. Both of these expensive hitch mounted bike racks come in at roughly $1000 (with the add-on) and both carry four bikes conveniently and neatly behind your truck or car.

The Kuat Sherpa retails at just over $500. (The latest Kuat NV 2.0 version comes in at just over $600 but both share similar form factors). This puts it at almost the same price point as the T2 Pro. The bling factor and the negatives both increase with the two bike add-ons which cost almost as much as the base unit. This makes it the most expensive bike rack that money can buy. In this post, we’ll be looking at the version 1 of the Kuat Sherpa, which I own, and have been using for over a year now.

Is the Kuat Bike Rack an Invaluable Jewel or Overpriced Tool?

The Kuat bike rack has it all. And at this price point, it really can’t afford not to. Despite, being heavy duty (and just plain heavy), the best feature of this rack is the ease of loading and unloading bikes on this system. Swinging the front tire cradle and rear tire straps over the bike wheels are a breeze. When carrying four bikes, you’ll want to use foam straws to prevent rubbing of the swing arms against those high-end bike frames. The integrated cable locks are also a nice touch as a visible theft deterrent.

Additionally, it comes with an integrated bike rack work station which honestly, I rarely use. It’s nice to know it’s there though when you need it.

The rack is heavy enough that once you attach it to your vehicle, you will not want to remove it. But aside from keeping it stored and well maintained when not in use, you won’t want to. This bike rack turns the back of your car into a trophy case for your most prized possession. Though I am certain the extra weight is eating into my mpg, I am in my happy place whenever this thing is on the back of my truck.
The four bike carrier Kuat does extend the base length of the vehicle significantly. Despite this, there is very little vertical play as you are driving down the road. It is not affected by strong winds or high speeds. Aside from the extra weight on the rear of your vehicle, you almost don’t notice that it’s there when driving.

Daily Use

Did I mention this thing is heavy? But it’s as heavy as it is high quality. Consequently, I find myself using this rack only for longer trips, typically, with my 650b mountain bike or when loading up the car for a family ride (with my wife and two kids). Otherwise, this thing is usually just taking up space in the garage as a towel rack. Instead, for solo outtings, I simply load the bike in the truck or use my Thule Apex  which is a hanging bike carrier (of which I’ve gone through two already). It’s much lighter and easier to load.

The Kuat 4 bike carrier is total overkill if you typically only find yourself driving out alone or unless you have a 650b or a 29er. Bikes with larger wheel diameters tend to hang too low to the ground for my liking when using the Apex. In those cases, you’ll be much happier driving around town with your steed attached to the back of your ride (sitting on its wheels high off the ground). This is especially beneficial when driving in wet conditions or on roads that have been salted for sleet and snow. The last thing you want is to be salt blasting the lower hanging part of your bike during a road trip through the mountains (which occurred when I used the Thule rack). The other related annoyance is actually bottoming out the bike when going up or coming out of a steep driveway with the Thule that never happens with the Kuat.

My Single Bike Go To Hitch Rack: The Thule Apex

The Thule Apex is my single bike go to rack. It will hold up to 4 bikes. However, this soon starts to stress the hitch mount adapter and will eventually snap the two mounting bolts that holds the hitch converter in place. This is due to the fact that most truck hitches are 2 inches while this model of the Thule Rack is only available in 1 and 3/4 (it uses an adapter to convert to a 2 inch mount). For a two-inch hitch, you really only should consider a model with a standard 2-inch mount. Do this in order to avoid the broken bold adapter problem I’ve experienced with the Apex. I’ve been through two of these now and use the second one  sparingly. Obviously, check these bolts regularly and discontinue use immediately if the bolts become damaged or broken like this:

Another bonus I love about the Thule Apex is the adapter called the Thule Tram that converts the bike rack into a ski and snowboard holder. While the add-on unit itself looks like a bathroom assistance tool, it really comes in handy in the off-season. Once I even had both my snowboard and mountain bike loaded up for a trip to Mammoth. Now what other bike rack allows you to do that?

The Kuat Bike Rack With Add-On: Overpriced Tool or Invaluable Jewel?

Let’s face it, there are many things in life that we pay for that we simply don’t use. Think SUVs that never see dirt, Porsche’s that never see track time, gym memberships, fancy treadmills, boats, RVs, hot tubs, and fancy things in general. Well, compared to all those things, at least I can say the Kuat gets used. Not every day, and maybe not even every week, but definitely on a monthly basis. The Kuat is perfect for family rides, rides with friends, or just for taking my 650b around town or to the mountains. And whenever I am using it, I’m usually in a very happy place headed for good times with family and friends.

VERDICT: Invaluable Jewel (for families, for 650b and 29er owners, and for good times with friends on trips).


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