Other Versions And Accessories
In addition to the 2-bike model of the Transfer we tested they also make it in 1-bike and 3-bike configurations. They also make a 1-bike add-on that can be used with the 1-bike version to expand its capacity to 2 bikes.
Transfer Lock KitPhat Bike KitHi-Lo
The Pivot, $295, is a fold-out receiver arm that allows you to swing the entire rack to provide better access to the back of your vehicle.
NV 2.0Sherpa 2.0Jeremy Benson
Hitch Mount Vs Other Bike Rack Styles
Weve made it clear throughout this piece that a hitch-mounted rack is our favorite design, and platform models in particular. Comparing common bike-carrying alternatives, there isnt a style that offers as much convenience, capacity, or compatibility with such a wide range of vehicles . Rooftop racks have a lower maximum capacity , are more of a pain to load and unload, and can impact gas mileage or create a whistling sound on the highway. Trunk-mounted racks are cheaper but prone to causing paint damage on your vehicle if you dont take extra precautions. If you have a truck, the simple pickup pad is a nice, affordable option, but you do lose the security of a locking hitch and it can take some work to limit bike-to-bike contact. In the end, all have their merits, but no other bike rack type can match the versatility of a hitch mount.
New Features Of The V2
One of the new features of this version is a semi-integrated bike cable lock. Its is about 7.5 long and uses a locking pin to secure the cable to the rack. The cable is a deterrent to a thief looking to grab and go but easily snipped with cable cutters. Personally, I dont leave my bike unattended for very long since Ive had mine stolen a few years ago while on the rack.
The cable is semi-integrated, meaning theres nowhere on the rack to store it when not in use. Instead, Kuat provides a burlap bag for the tools and cable, but Id prefer to see a retractable cable making it one less thing to worry about losing.
Kuat provides two keys that come on a keychain that doubles as a bottle opener, always a handy item to have around for post-ride libations.
Another new feature is the flatlock hitch cam that expands with the turn of a special Allen key. As the flatlock expands, the hitch becomes stabilized in the receiver. Double-check the flatlock on long trips, as I found it tends to loosen over time. The 8mm security Allen wrench has a unique head, so a thief cant remove the rack unless they have the same head. Just dont lose it, or you wont be able to get it off your car until Kuat sends a replacement.
It was strange that the instruction manual stated to tighten the flatlock hitch cam to 24 nM. But without the same security Allen head for your torque wrench, youre guessing at the amount of force to use.
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Wheel Size And Tire Width Compatibility
Wheel size and tire width arent major considerations when choosing a hanging rack, but those that opt for the platform style will want to verify their bikes will fit in the included trays. The good news is that the majority of road and mountain bikers wont have a problem at allevery platform rack on our list can fit 26- to 29-inch wheels and 3-inch and under tires. Its when you get to the extreme ends of the spectrum with 12- to 24-inch kids bikes or fat bikes with 4- to 5-inch tires that problems can crop up.
One of the reasons that the Thule T2 Pro XTR took the top spot on our list is its ability to fit so many bike styles straight out of the box. Its the only one that can both accommodate 20- to 29-inch wheels and tires up to 5 inches wide . Others, like the Kuat NV 2.0, require two separate adapters to fit bikes with wheels between 20 to 24 inches and tires larger than 2.75 inches. For reference, purchasing both Kuat adapters isnt costly at around $20, but they are separate pieces that youll need to store when not in use.
Our Analysis And Test Results
Kuat is well known for their quality, and often very expensive, bike racks. That’s why we were intrigued by the much more reasonably priced Transfer, a platform hitch model that costs less than half of their high-end models. With a price that much lower we kept our expectations similarly low but were pleasantly surprised by a relatively user-friendly and good-looking rack, albeit in a much less refined package. It does not feel as rugged or quality as its much higher-priced siblings, nor does it come with security features of any kind, sacrifices made to keep the price of this model down. This is a fine entry-level platform hitch rack to be sure, but those looking for high-end Kuat quality will still need to pay the high-end price to get it.
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Choosing A Hitch Rack For Carbon Fiber Bikes
Carbon fiber bikes are dream machines for many riders and come with premium price tags, so its no surprise that a common question is how to transport them safely. To keep the material protected, the most important thing to do is select a style that doesnt allow for any frame contact. This means youll want to avoid the standard hanging rack category, as models like the Yakima Ridgeback secure the bike with straps directly over the top tube. Among platform-style racks, its best to choose one of two basic designs: a ratcheting arm that locks in over the front wheel and a strap through the rear wheel or a dual-arm design like 1Ups Heavy Duty that tightens over the front and rear tires. The common denominator among these compatible racks is a high price tag, but its well worth it to avoid any unnecessary damage to your carbon rig.
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Why We Like The Transfer 3 Bike Rack
When its Thursday afternoon before the three-day stage race, or if you are punching the clock to hit a weekend of alpine single-track with your crew, the Kuat Transfer 3 Bike Rack sets the travel off well with easy loading and frame-less contact. The Transfer set itself apart not only in value but also convenience, as its U-shape allows you to step into it, instead of to the side when loading. And the Perfect Fit system ensures that each bike has a relatively custom fit as the wheel trays can swivel and adjust to better fit wheelbases and handlebar widths. When loading, roll up to the back of the car, kick down the spring-loaded foot pedal, lock the tray down for loading, and place your bike on the trays. The tire trays fit 20-29in tires, so theres no hassling with initial positioning. A front claw-like lever arm holds the top of the wheel in place, and a simple ratcheting strap secures the rear wheel in place.
Best Overall Hitch Bike Rack
Number of bikes: 2 Weight capacity per bike: 60 lbs.What we like: Loaded with features, well-built, and easy to use.What we dont: Expensive and a bit heavy.
Thule recently updated their popular T2 Pro, but the latest model retains its title as our favorite hitch-mounted rack thanks to its complete feature set and premium build. Taking the place of the top-selling XT, the XTR adds a set of wheels at the base for easier shuttling to and from a garage, but the rest of the design remains exactly the same . The T2 Pros user-friendly tilt feature is best-in-class, providing quick and easy access to the rear of the vehicle, and its versatile carrying system accommodates everything from fat bikes to 20-inch kids models. At $800, the T2 Pro certainly isnt cheap , nor is it particularly light at over 50 pounds, but its sturdy, long-lasting design is ideal for committed riders.
Number of bikes: 2 Weight capacity per bike: 60 lbs.What we like: Great price for a versatile platform-style rack.What we dont: Design is a bit less sturdy and feature-rich than premium alternatives.
Weight capacity per bike: 35 lbs.What we like: An inexpensive yet surprisingly reliable way to carry two bikes.What we dont: Not the most user-friendly design and the ratcheting arms scuff bike frames.
Number of bikes: 4 Weight capacity per bike: 40 lbs.What we like: Proven, affordable way to haul 4 bikes.What we dont: Need an adapter to carry step-through bikes.
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Material And Build Quality
The saying you get what you pay for rings very true in the hitch-mounted bike rack world. In short, if you plan to use your rack a lot or keep it on your vehicle even in the rainy seasons, its well worth paying for a premium design. 1Ups Heavy Duty Double and Recon Rack 6 are among the most expensive racks in our round-up, and both feature high-quality, all-metal constructions that have excellent lifespans. On the other hand, racks like the $120 Swagman XC2 that use a lot of plastic or cheap, thin metal, will be prone to rusting out or breaking down over time. That said, just because a rack is made up of a lot of plastic doesnt necessarily mean that its not durable. One design that does a great job of balancing metal construction and strategic use of tough plastic is our top-rated Thule T2 Pro XTR. Not surprisingly, the Thule comes with a steep $800 price tag.
Ease Of Removal And Storage
The Transfer is relatively easy to remove and store but like most platform hitch mount racks it suffers a little in this metric due to its size and shape. Attaching and removing the rack is similar to most other racks with a threaded hitch pin and requires a wrench and bending down low to the ground. While tightening a threaded hitch pin with a wrench is quite easy, racks like the Thule T2 Pro XT make this process even easier with their tool-free stinger pin and tightening knob design.
At only 35lbs 8oz, it’s among the lightest weight platform models in the test, just 1lb 8 oz heavier than the Yakima Dr. Tray. It’s also somewhat smaller than many of its competitors, with a width of only 47 inches, so once removed it takes up a little less space in your storage space compared to other wider racks like the RockyMounts MonoRail which is 56 inches wide. Like most similar racks, it’s still quite sizeable and somewhat awkward to store compared to a trunk mount rack that can fold down nice and small for convenient storage.
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Quality Modular Design And Price Make Kuat Racks Appealing
Kuat racks are so appealing because they are affordable, compact for easy storage, and dont weigh a ton. Ranging from $349 to $549 , the Transfer v2 is an affordable option for those riders looking for a quality hitch rack. When not hauling bikes, the rack folds down and close to the vehicle . Also, when off the vehicle, the Transfer v2 stows up against the garage wall taking up minimum space. Or use the optional Rackdock to stow it. Also, as a woman with lower back problems, I appreciate the lightweightat ~40 lbs for the 2-bike versionthe rack is easy to maneuver on and off the car.
Another feature to point out for those with back issues or heavy bikes, the Transfer v2 has an open design, making it easy to load and unload. The center of the rack is an open format allowing you to stand close to the bike when lifting it on or off the rack, thus reducing back strain.
The Transfer v2 has a modular design for 1, 2, 3, and 4 bike options. And as with the first version, it hinges down to enable accessing the vehicles hatch/trunk easier.
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Types Of Hitch Bike Racks
Platform RacksPlatform racks dominate this round-up, and in our opinion, are the best way to transport your bikes. Compared to hanging racks, platform designs are compatible with a much wider range of bike styles, sit lower to the ground for easier access, and are excellent in terms of stability. Most have two attachment points: a ratcheting arm that secures the front wheel, and a strap that holds the rear wheel in place. This straightforward and effective system makes it easy to rapidly load and unload your bike, and it minimizes any wobble or side-to-side movement while driving. In addition, these racks are the most gentle on bikes because they typically only come in contact with the tire or wheel .
As with any product, there are bound to be compromises. Platform racks are big, bulky, and generally quite heavy. If you plan on removing your hitch rack with any regularity, youll want to pay attention to weight, and many leading options tip the scales at 50 pounds or more. Platform-style hitch racks also are among the most expensive options on the market, with prices of leading designs like the Thule T2 Pro XTR and 1Up Heavy Duty Double clearing $600. That said, for serious riders, the added weight and cost are well worth the security and ease of use of this style.
From Sleek Platform Designs To High
- / Best Hitch Bike Racks of 2022
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If youre searching for the best way to transport bikes, hitch-mounted racks are the way to go. Securely attaching to the receiver hitch of your vehicle, they offer unmatched versatility and ease of use. There are a wide range of options to choose from, but hitch racks fall into two basic categories: platform models are the most expensive but offer excellent stability and convenience, while hanging racks maximize carrying capacity in a compact package. Below we break down our top picks for 2022, from high-end, exquisitely manufactured designs like 1Ups Heavy Duty Double to Kuats budget-oriented and weight-conscious Beta. For more information, see our hitch rack comparison table and buying advice below the picks.
- Best 4-Bike Hanging Rack: Yakima RidgeBack 4
- Best Hitch Rack for Rear Cargo Access: RockyMounts BackStage
- Best Vertical Hanging Rack: 1UP Recon Rack 6
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Kuat Improves On An Already Excellent Hitch Rack
In January 2019, I reviewed the Kuat Transfer hitch rack. I liked the rack then but felt the company could improve on a few features. Fast forward, and Kuat addresses many of my suggested improvements, plus more in version 2. For a full rundown of features, view Kuats video, but a few of the key enhancements include:
- Increased the wheelbase length from 47 to 50
- Holds a wider selection of wheel sizes from 18-29
- Accommodates more fat bike models with tires up to 5 with accessory strap
- Increased length of J-arm for better clearance of the hook that holds the front tire
- Semi-integrated bike cable lock
- Flatlock hitch cam used to secure the rack with an 8mm security Allen wrench needed to remove it
Bike And Receiver Hitch Locks
Bike racks in general have very similar feature sets, and one common upgrade that you see on mid-range and premium designs are locks. Starting with bike locks, these flexible cables allow you to secure the bikes frame or wheel to the rack. While not a perfect deterrenta solid set of bolt cutters will make quick work of themthey do provide a degree of security while parking your car . Our favorite bike locks are those that are integrated into the rack, which makes it very convenient to quickly deploy them when needed. Racks that include a separate cable lock that you need to store in your vehicle are less appealing, and in those cases, we prefer to purchase our own metal U-lock.
The second accessory lock is for the receiver hitch, which typically is found on the hitch pin or integrated into the bottom of the rack. The aim is to keep thieves from removing the entire rack from your car. Considering even a budget-friendly design is often $200 or more, this is a sensible addition. There arent major differences between styles in terms of functionality, although weve found the integrated type is a little easier to use. Its worth noting that if the rack youre purchasing doesnt include a receiver lock, every manufacturer on our list above offers one as an accessory.
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