Once you’ve used a hitch rack, it’s unlikely you’ll go back to mounting bikes on your car’s roof. Once you’ve used a Kuat hitch rack, most of the other options on the market won’t really satisfy, unless you’re on a bare-bones budget.
We tested and loved the Kuat NV in the April 2016 issue of VeloNews. It scored high marks for aesthetics, versatility, and ease of use. The Missouri-based company has since released a 2.0 version of the NV. For this test, we went with the less-expensive, more compact Sherpa 2.0, and it lived up to the high standards set by its big brother.
The wheel trays are short and sleek, a much simpler look than the NV 2.0. Though long mountain bikes will dangle a bit off the end of the pivoting cradles that hold the rear wheels, Kuat says the rack accommodates up to 47-inch wheelbases. For reference, a Specialized Enduro 29er, size large has a wheelbase of just over 47 inches. For the front wheel, the Sherpa has a small plastic tray that flips up for support, with a few grooves to accommodate road, ‘cross, or mountain bike tires up to three inches wide.
So the Sherpa might not work for downhill rippers or frozen fat bikers, but the simple trays were fine for all of our bikes. The arm, which ratchets down to hold the front wheel, is dead simple to operate, and of all the designs on the market, it’s our favorite.
Further contributing to its compact shape and size, the Sherpa easily folds down for trunk access or up to stay out of the way. The rack pivot is released by a lever, which is easiest to use with your foot.
The semi-integrated lock is one of our favorite features of this rack. It’s just a cable with a loop at one end. The other end locks into the rack’s outer tray, so you have the ability to lock up the frames, wheels, and whatever else, unlike some lock designs, which only secure the front wheel arm.
Priced at $489, the Sherpa 2.0 is much less expensive than the NV 2.0, which is $629. The Sherpa’s compromises are less carrying capacity (in terms of bike weight and size), no integrated work stand, and no optional add-on to make it a four-bike carrier.
You can find less-expensive hitch racks, like Thule’s reliable T2, priced at $400. But for our money, the Sherpa 2.0 is worth spending a bit more for the clean looks, secure lock, and simple, reliable functionality.