Founded just over a decade ago, Kuat is a newcomer to the world of racing bikes, but they haven’t wasted time creating functional and refined designs. NV Base 2.0 is a robust rack comparable to the leading options in its class, namely Thule, Yakima and 1Up. We’ve been transporting bikes with NV for over a month now and we’ve appreciated the simplicity, robustness and reliable mounting system – all in stylish and elegant packaging. Here is an overview of the specifications of Base 2.0, configuration and usability, payload and wheel size, weight, build quality, key features and much more. To find out how it fits into a competitor’s pile, read our article on the best trailer frames for bikes with drawbar.
As soon as I noticed Kuat’s porters on my local road, I wanted them to try it. The NV Base 2.0 stands out as a solid alternative to Thule’s popular T2 Pro XT, a rack that I think is the best available today. Since the calf is widely used in the Pacific Northwest this autumn, I am happy to say that the calf is a worthy competitor when it comes to carrying a bike. The attachment system is robust and holds two bikes firmly in place. The bike carrier is easy to install and use and has minimal swing and bounce movements during the ride. Although the Kuat cannot compete with Thule’s versatility in transporting a wide range of bikes (see below), it’s an excellent option for those who transport standard road bikes for adults, gravel and mountain bikes.
Configuration and ease of use
As far as we know the NV base 2.0 is one of the easiest and fastest racks I have ever built. The process took about 20 minutes from start to finish, with most of the time spent aligning the bolts in the respective holes and balancing the scales at the same time (much easier than working with each other). All necessary materials and instructions are included, and the only difficulty is to match the letters on the shelf bar with the letters of the specialists. They are clearly marked, but you can easily ignore them in a hurry.
NV Base 2.0 has a very simple design, so it’s no wonder it’s very easy to use.
As with most platform racks available on the market, loading bicycles is a simple process: simply lift the bike onto the rack, turn the ratchet arm up and forward and attach it to the tyre. The upper part of the bracket slides into the lower part to hold it, but I noticed that it can seem a bit sticky when tightened on the front wheel. It does not disturb the trunk, but it requires special attention when loading bikes and is not as smooth as the ratchet on Thule’s T2 Pro XT. The NV Base 2.0 system has proven to be much more powerful than other comparable models, such as Yakima Dr.Tray. And finally, the spine is just as easy to adjust: Just fold it around the wheel and pass it through the loop.
Bicycle capacity and wheel size
Like most platform hooks, the NV Base 2.0 of Kuat can take two bicycles with it. The 2-inch version of the receiver (NV Base 2.0 is available for 1.25-inch and 2-inch couplings) can be upgraded with an accessory that allows you to bring two extra bikes, but it doesn’t cost $419. In terms of wheel size, the NV Base 2.0 is suitable for conventional road and mountain bikes with 20 to 29 inch tyres. However, 20- to 24-inch tires require a separate wheel adaptor, while road bikes require the Phat Bike kit (sold separately for $10), which includes a rear belt extension and front Velcro. By comparison: The Thule T2 Pro XT, which costs an extra $11, can carry greasy bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes and children’s bikes (with wheels at least 20 inches long) without extra equipment. We expected the same from Quat for the first-class platform components.
In terms of payload, NV Base 2.0 can carry two 60-pound bicycles, which is in line with most other platform type towing hooks. Although it may seem like it to many people, e-bikes often reach the tolerance level, so it is important for e-bike users to check their weight in advance. Consideration should also be given to the effort required to lift heavier bikes onto a platform carrier such as the NV Base 2.0, as more than one person is often required to load and unload (it is only relatively recently that retractable ramps have been integrated into a carrier such as the Thule EasyFold XT 2).
Quality and sustainability of buildings
We used to expect a certain quality level of high-end platformracks, and NV Base 2.0 does not disappoint us. But to be honest, at first I was afraid to check that shelf. I’ve known a handful of bikers who have had serious problems with the Kuat power in the past. And although all the problems with the No Worries lifetime warranty had been resolved, I was still concerned that the NV’s 2.0 base was not inferior to its competitors. All this shows that I was impressed by the strength of the stand and the high quality of the meeting. It was much more reliable than Dr. Tray Yakima because of its predominantly steel construction and the black powder-coated frame had to withstand years of abuse. At least I don’t have anything to report, and the torture rack still holds.
Almost without exception the platform shaped tie rods are heavy and bulky, so it’s no surprise that NV Base 2.0 launches at 51 pounds. However, when alternatives such as T2 Pro XT (£52), 1Up USA Heavy Duty Double (£46) and NV 2.0 Kuat (£52) are considered, NV Base 2.0 is on a line with its competitors. The only truly exceptional tray in this category is the Dr. de Yakima tray, which is impressively light at only 34 pounds. It goes without saying that it is better to leave the NV 2.0 base on the car than to take it between rides.
We consider the mounting system of the bike carriers to be one of the most important functions. It has to be extremely solid and limit the movement of the bikes while riding, and I am happy to announce that the Kuat NV 2.0 base has passed these tests successfully. The ratchet levers on the luggage rack are lowered sovereignly on all of the bikes we tested and firmly fixed to the front tyres (although, as mentioned above, they need some precision not to get stuck). In addition, the adjustable front stand can be lowered or raised to prevent contact between two bikes. Most other supports, such as Dr. Yakima’s tray, achieve this by allowing you to move the entire tray to the left or right. I don’t have a reason to set it up yet, and I’m not sure I will – but it’s a remarkable feature that could be useful to some people.
As far as the rear wheel is concerned, I was able to tighten the belt sufficiently by just pulling on it without too much effort. The belt also slides easily back and forth along the shelf, making it easy and convenient to load bikes with different wheelbase lengths. I still prefer the rear seatbelt of the Thule T2 Pro XT – the deep notches and two stops ensure fast loading and unparalleled safety.
The rocker arm of the NV Base 2.0 is located in the middle of the rack, exactly in the middle of the mounted bicycles, and is at the same time surprisingly easy to use. When I first noticed the lever, I remembered my original Thule T2 Classic, which often required complex yoga postures to adapt to the bikes on board. But fortunately, the NV Base 2.0 system doesn’t need the same flexibility – with two bicycles mounted, it’s easily accessible near your arm and can be moved effortlessly. The steel construction is also reliable and must be durable. Although I prefer the Thule HitchSwitch lever on the T2 Pro XT, which is far away from the car and the engines, the Kuat system remains simple and fast.
We appreciate that high quality (and expensive) racks are equipped with integrated bicycle locks and that the racks themselves save us a few extra dollars. Based on the NV 2.0, you will find a hidden locking cable and a lock at the end of each housing to attach the frame to the vehicle. The cable locks at the back of the bike proved to be very functional – thicker and significantly safer than the locks on most of the other boxes we tested. What’s more, they don’t need a key to lock them – just push them in and use the key only to unlock them. However, I do have an essential plug with cable locks: They’re harder to remove than most of the others I’ve used. Recently I left a padlock around my bike that was wrapped around it for a couple of hours and when I tried to remove it, it was barely fixable and it was extremely difficult to put it back in the trunk floor. Although this is by no means a serious problem, it could be much easier.
Although Kuat NV’s 2.0 base uses an expansion wedge to attach to the vehicle without hesitation, it refuses the built-in lock. Instead, it is equipped with a locking pin to secure the rack. This system works quite well, but I prefer the lock to be integrated in the rack itself, like the Yakima Dr.Tray and the Thule T2 Pro XT, which makes the assembly and disassembly step unnecessary.
What we want in
- The powerful ratchet levers of the NV Base 2.0 limit the lateral movement of the bicycle.
- The rocker arm is easy to use for loading bicycles.
- The expansion wedge of the receiver prevents movement between the vehicle and the rack.
- Very elegant and modern design.
That we don’t do that
- The ratchet arm of the stand is sometimes sticky and does not fit on the front tyre as easily as some other standards.
- For greasy bikes and bikes with 20 to 24 wheels, additional adapters and fittings are required.
- It may be difficult to reinstall the cable locks in the rack after use.
* Editor’s note: The capacity refers to the weight of the load of a bicycle.
Under the fully equipped platform suspension, the Kuat has a winner with the NV Base 2.0. But the terrain is busy and the Thule T2 Pro XT is now the leader in its class. Thule differs from Kuat by three main characteristics: It is suitable for larger wheels and bike types without a separate adapter, the rocker arm is more comfortable and the cable locks are easy to use and install (see our detailed overview of the Thule T2 Pro XT for more details). If you’re planning on transporting only adult road and mountain bikes, the NV Base 2.0 is an excellent choice, but for a small price increase ($11), the same weight and more features and versatility, we make a nod to the T2 Pro XT.
This season we also tested Dr. Tray Yakima, who comes in an impressive light package of 34 pounds. And while Yakima has included a number of useful features missing from NV Base 2.0 – such as a built-in lock in the spacer and a more convenient tilt arm – we think the Kuat is the best support for the community. What for? While the Yakima has all the features you’d expect from a top-of-the-range racking, the most important shaving weight lies in its durability and workmanship. If you prefer a lighter weight and plan to carry lighter bikes (Dr. Tray has a maximum weight of 40 pounds per bike), Dr. Tray thinks that the Kuat 2.0 base is the best choice for those who want a solid standard, and it wouldn’t hurt if it was $60 cheaper.
After all, you can’t get much more bonus than your own NV 2.0 Kuat – an improvement over the basic model. But for an extra $60, there aren’t many significant differences. The NV 2.0 in particular has a metallic coating (the undercarriage has a matt surface) and contains Kuat’s Trail-Doc: an integrated repair rack that makes it possible to work on your bike while standing on the carrier. It’s a decent price (if you buy Trail Doc separately for Base 2.0, you get $109 back), but it’s far from an essential feature for most tokens.
kuat nv base 2.0 vs thule t2 pro xt,kuat nv 2.0 1.25 to 2'' adapter
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