Bike racks make it possible to travel anywhere with your bike without having to break it down or stuff it into your vehicle.
Of course, you can’t just pick any bike rack and hope for the best. Well, you can, but you may end up disappointed. Or worse, find out that the rack won’t work for your particular bike.
Keep reading to see which one will work best for you.
|#1. Kuat NV 2.0|
Our Best Pick
|2 bikes at 60lbs each|
|#2. Sherpa 2.0|
|2 bikes at 40lbs each|
Kuat NV 2.0 Vs Sherpa 2.0 Video Review
Capabilities and Capacities
The N.V 2.0 is constructed from aluminimum alloy, which is resistant from corrosion and rust. That’s all good and well, but how many bikes can you carry?
As it is, you can carry two bikes at a max of 60lbs each, but you can also purchase an add-on that will allow you to carry an additional two bikes.
What about the Sherpa?
The NV 2.0 is a heavy duty solution to carrying heavier bikes, but we would consider the Sherpa to be the NV 2.0’s lightweight cousin.
That said, the Sherpa is perfect for bikes that are lightweight with smaller tires. You’ll get a max load of 40lbs per bike and a tire width of up to 3″ width with the Sherpa. Lifting it and attaching it, you’ll notice the weight difference (how lightweight the Sherpa rack is).
If you don’t need something heavy duty and are just looking for a lightweight solution combined with simplicity, the Sherpa would make a great consideration.
It’s not as “beautiful” as the NV 2.0 and you probably won’t get as many compliments, but if you’re making short trips or just need to carry your own bike and a friend’s occasionally, then you probably don’t need something as rugged as the NV 2.0
What’s Storing and Removal like?
To store the NV 2.0 when not in use, just press the holding arms in and press the release lever at the base while pushing up and in towards the tailgate of the vehicle.
To remove- pull the pull pin out and just pull the carrier out.
Installation is just as simple. Make sure the rack is in the stowed position and lift it into the hitch and slide it into position. Secure with the pin. Keep pushing the rack in until that pin finds the lock position and then you’re set.
Now while we’re on the topic of installation, it’s important to point out that this rack is pretty solid. It’s heavy and doesn’t feel like it’s going to break down going through a car wash or after a few dozen trips down a road while on the way to your favorite bike trails.
That said, this could be a two person job or a one person job depending on how fit you are.
Some racks have a habit of shaking or jostling about while on the move, but we didn’t notice that with this rack.
While in the stowed position, you’ll notice that there’s a turn knob on the rack itself that can be twisted left or right. Twisting it towards the right as tight as you can get it will keep the rack secure and from jostling about.
Everything feels snug and the rack won’t be going anywhere.
Installing the Sherpa rack has almost the same repeatable process with the exception that you have to use the hitch pin as a “feeler” to match up the hitch pin holes.
But don’t secure the pin lock yet.
Instead, you’ll use the turn knob to adjust the tightness of the rack first. By turning the knob left or right, you can reduce the jostling of the bike rack and keep your bikes from bouncing all over the place.
Now that it’s been adjusted, use the hitch pin lock and snap it to the end of the hitch.
This will keep thieves from running off with either the rack or your bikes.
The N.V 2.0 hitch comes with a lock and key set for security purposes.
The hitch cover/lock rests on top of the pin and comes with a rubber dust cover to keep debris and dust from getting into the lock or otherwise making it impossible to ever remove the hitch from your vehicle.
It just snaps onto the end of the hitch pin.
But what if you need to leave your bike unattended for some time, wouldn’t it be easy for someone to come along and just run off with your bike?
Not with the Kuat NV 2.0.
At the end of the rack (towards the back of the tire), there’s a braided steel cable lock that can be pulled out when not being stored. Using the cable lock you can slide it through the bike frame and secure it back into itself with the spring loaded lock. The same key that works for the hitch lock will work with this one as well. Each bike tray/rack comes with its own individual cable lock.
The Sherpa also uses an independent cable lock that can be used to wrap about the frames of both bikes and then lock into position on the tray lock.
We’ll talk a little more about the cable lock further down in the Limitations section, but you should know that it also comes with its own key set (works for both the cable and the hitch lock) so you can be sure that your rack (or the bikes) won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
How Easy Is It To Use?
Installing a bike is simple for the NV.
That same lever you used to lift the rack into the stowed position can be operated by hand or foot. So just press down using your foot and lower the rack into place. Adjust the holding arms so that they’re out of the way but in position for the bike(laid flat).
Hold your bike and get it into the wheel cradles for the front wheel and lock the first arm into place by lifting it and making sure that it’s secure.
Still holding the bike in place lift the back tire till it’s on the track and slide the nylon ratchet strap through the spokes of the wheel. Make sure that it’s lined up directly below the axle of the tire and secure that in place.
Adjusting the wheel cradles is possible by using a specialized star key.
No worries, it’s already included with the rack.
To find it, look for the box towards the receiver hitch and the base of the rack itself. Reaching towards the back to find a compartment.
The star key can be used to adjust the bolt for the wheel cradle in either a lower, middle or higher position. Once you have the position desired for your wheel, just retighten the bolt with the same tool.
Removing the bike/s is just as simple. Just reverse the order you used to mount the bike on the rack.
The Sherpa also has the same ratchet straps, holding arms and locking mechanisms so you can pretty much follow the same steps even going as far as using your foot to release the lever to lower or raise the rack.
This would be a good time to point out that if your bike has fenders or anything that impedes the access to the front wheel, then the NV may not be the right rack for you since you want that holding arm to get in as close to the tire as possible.
The Sherpa does come with a cable lock and while the cable lock is strong (steel braided cable) and pretty resistant to most theft, there’s no way to store the cable in or on the rack itself when not in use.
Not a huge deal, but it’s something we did notice.
If your road bike or mountain bike has 20″ or 24″ wheels, you may need to purchase an adapter for the Sherpa rack separately.
Will This Bike Rack Work For A Hatchback?
Accessing the hatch of your vehicle might be important to you if you need access to camping or hiking gear.
The lever for the NV 2.0 can be used to either raise or lower the rack so that you can gain access to your hatch. The clearance from the hatch to the handlebars/or the bike is just right.
We weren’t concerned about damaging the paint on our Subaru Forester and we don’t think you should be either (even if you don’t drive a Subaru).
To lift the rack up again, just lift up. You don’t have to mess with the lever. If your hands are full- use your foot to lift the rack (we do).
Pressing down on the lever once while lowering it will put it in the carrying position. You can also reach over the topside of the rack and push it down so that you can access your rear hatch for most vehicles.
The Sherpa has a similar setup and is compatible with most vehicles.
Are there any special features I should know about?
One unique feature of the NV 2.0 that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough is the Trail Dock.
To access it, place the hitch in the stowed position and in the middle right by the lever is an arm that can be lowered or raised by using that same lever next to it.
Lifting it to its max height (it’s marked) and locking the lever into place gives you a handy device that can help you make some roadside repairs to your bike without a whole lot of bending over while working on your bike.
When you’re finished, just lower it back into position and you’re good to go!
If we had to choose between one bike rack over the other, we’d suggest that anyone who needs a heavy-duty bike rack that can carry more weight/needs accommodations for fatter tires, a few extras thrown in- Go with the NV 2.0.
For simple trips with lighter bikes or where you’ll be biking by yourself (without the extra bells and whistles), stick with the Sherpa and pocket the savings.