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Kuat vs Thule Bike Rack

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Today, we pit Thule and Kuat bicycle racks against each other. Well, they are two rockstars in the rack world, after all – so why not?

Whether you’re an avid cyclist or a casual rider, choosing the right bike rack is very important. It’s good for piece of mind, and knowing you have the right rack for all occasions.

So, which product wins in a Kuat vs Thule bike rack battle? Let’s start comparing!

Thule Vs Kuat: Which Is Best?

Based on a variety of criteria, which rack is best between Thule and Kuat bike racks?

Kuat Piston Pro X Hitch Rack (Best For Hitch)

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  • Rack type: Platform-style hitch rack
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 63 lbs (28.57 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 67 lbs (134 lbs/60.78 kg total)

The Kuat Piston Pro X Hitch Rack is an expensive bike rack. Very expensive. But if you’re willing to stretch to the cost, you get an exemplary product for your money: ultra-durable (98% metal), versatile, strong.

The Piston Pro X Hitch Rack securely holds bikes by both wheels, ensuring stability during off-road driving. Its piston-actuated wheel grips have user-friendly ratchet closures.

For security, it features a 12 mm thick semi-integrated cable lock, a lockable hitch pin, and integrated brake lights.

What We Like

  • Durability – exceptional build quality not easily found elsewhere.
  • Sturdy – dual piston-action wheel holders keep bikes still and avoids damage to the finish.
  • Security – long and thick cable lock provides protection against theft.
  • Versatile – accommodates a wide range of bikes.

What We Don’t Like

  • Cost – you can get the job done for far less money.

Alternative: Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack

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The Thule T2 Pro XTR Hitch Bike Rack is among the more popular bike racks on the market, and deservedly so. Like the Kuat Piston Pro, it’s solidly built and durable. It lacks the Kuat’s two wheel arms per bike. Load capacity is a tad lower, and there are no brake lights.

On the positive side, the Thule rack is more affordable, features an easy-to-use tilting function, and includes lockable ratchet arms for bike security.

Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack (Best For Roof)

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  • Rack type: Roof-Mounted
  • Bike capacity: 1
  • Weight: 17 lbs (7.71 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 44 lbs (19.95 kg)

A rack that holds your bike firmly on the car roof is the durably made Thule UpRide Roof Bike Rack. This is a great solution for carrying expensive bikes because it makes no contact with the frame or fork, thus it preserves the bike’s finish.

Any bike with wheel diameters from 20″ to 29″ is compatible with the Thule UpRide, although if it has tires plumper than 3″ you’ll need the separately available adapter for fat bikes.

One downside of this rack (and other roof racks) is that you need to buy lock cores separately before you can lock the rack to the car and the bike to the rack.

What We Like

  • Versatile – accepts most bike types and wheel sizes.
  • Preserve – holds the bike by its wheels, so no damage is done to the frame or fork.
  • Secure – holds bikes securely.

What We Don’t Like

  • Extra – you’ll need to pay extra if you want lock security for the rack and your bike.

Alternative: Kuat Trio Fork Mount

Kuat Trio Fork MountPin

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The Kuat Trio Fork Mount is a well-made rack that securely holds bikes by their forks. It boasts Kuat’s renowned build quality and a durable powder-coated finish.

A fork-mounting system offers the advantage of not requiring a high lift to place the bike on the roof. However, it necessitates finding space inside the car for the wheel.

This rack suits various bike types, including mountain bikes, road bikes, and gravel bikes. Owners of thru-axle bikes should ensure the correct adapter size is provided before purchase.

Thule OutWay Platform 2-Bike Trunk Rack (Best For Trunk)

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  • Rack type: Trunk-Mounted
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 27.6 lbs (12.5 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 66 lbs (29.9 kg)

Thule wins the best trunk bike rack. Unlike any other trunk rack on the market, this one uses a platform system to hold your bikes sturdily in place.

The “OutWay” name refers to the rack’s ability to hold bikes above vehicle lights and plates, which keeps you legal.

Torque-limiting AcuTight knobs on the OutWay help you to secure your bikes without excessive force. You can also lock this Thule rack to the car—another unusual feature among trunk racks.

A slight drawback is the modest load capacity when compared with hitch-mounted platform racks. This is not for heavyweight e-bikes or extreme machines.

What We Like

  • Innovation – platform design unique among trunk racks.
  • Versatile – holds a wide variety of bikes.
  • Torque – AcuTight technology prevents over-tightening.
  • Security – lock the rack to the car and your bikes to the rack.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – 33-pound capacity per bike is lower than a hitch platform rack.

Kuat Sherpa 2.0 2-Bike Hitch Rack (Best For SUV)

Kuat Sherpa 2.0 2-Bike Hitch RackPin

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  • Rack type: Hitch-Mounted
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 32 lbs (14.51 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 40 lbs (18.14 kg)

The Kuat Sherpa 2.0 2-Bike Hitch Rack is a sleek rack that complements SUV aesthetics. It’s available in black, gray, and pearl white & silver finishes.

This high-quality rack stands out with its lightweight 32 lbs aluminum construction . Keep in mind that heavier bikes may need heavier racks. The maximum bike weight for this rack is 40 lbs.

The rack’s manageable weight allows for easy installation and removal. It features a semi-integrated cable lock and secures bikes by their front tires, ensuring compatibility with various bicycle types.

What We Like

  • Lightweight – far lighter than the average hitch rack, making it easier to install/remove.
  • Choice – available in a choice of finishes.
  • Versatile – compatible with a wide variety of bikes and frame shapes.
  • Security – bike lock included.

What We Don’t Like

  • Load – not for you if you have heavy bikes to carry.

Read more: Best bike rack for an SUV without a hitch

Alternative: Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier

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A relatively inexpensive rack that many have installed on an SUV is the Thule Passage Trunk Mount Carrier. This isn’t as versatile as the Kuat Sherpa 2.0, but it is only a third of the price.

Unlike a hitch rack, this Thule trunk rack weighs under 10 lbs and can carry two bikes of up to 35 lbs each. It features the same FitDial system as the Gateway Pro, enabling you to easily optimise the set-up to suit your vehicle.

Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Rack + Extension (Best For Multiple Bikes)

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  • Rack type: Hitch-Mounted
  • Bike capacity: 4
  • Weight: 91 lbs (41.27 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 4 x 40 lbs (160 lbs/72.57 kg total)

Kuat bike racks are renowned for their build quality and pleasing aesthetics, and the Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Rack + Extension upholds that tradition. This sturdy bike rack has a durable weather-resistant finish and is easy to use.

Bikes attach to NV 2.0 via their wheels. An adjustable hook secures them, and a rear wheel strap accommodates different wheelbases.

Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Rack has a built-in “Trail-Doc” work stand, lifting the bike for better maintenance access. It includes cable locks and a locking hitch pin for security.

The rack’s weight is a drawback. The 2-bike rack weighs 52 lbs, and the 2-bike extension adds 39 lbs, totalling 91 lbs.

What We Like

  • Build – premium construction quality and finish, as you’d expect from Kuat racks.
  • Versatile – able to carry a wide variety of bikes.
  • Work stand – holds your bike while you perform maintenance tasks.
  • Security – integrated cable locks and a lockable hitch pin.

What We Don’t Like

  • Weight – a real heavyweight once the extension is added.

Alternative: Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack

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Less versatile than the Kuat NV 2.0 but also more affordable is the excellent Thule Apex XT Bike Hitch Rack. This is a hanging style hitch rack that suspends bikes from two arms and features anti-sway cradles to stop them from crashing into each other.

Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack (Best For E-Bikes)

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  • Rack type: Hitch-Mounted
  • Bike capacity: 2
  • Weight: 45 lbs (20.41 kg)
  • Weight capacity: 2 x 65 lbs (130 lbs/58.96 kg total)

It’s hard not to recommend the Thule EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack as the top pick for e-bikes, thanks to its included loading ramp and useful load capacity. You can carry weighty mountain bikes on it, too.

Noteworthy features include a foot pedal for tilting, torque-limiting knobs, anti-theft measures, compact foldable design, integrated wheels, and a carry handle.

A downside is this rack’s use of frame clamps to secure bikes, which are less versatile than wheel clamps.

What We Like

  • Ramp – convenient ramp helps to load potentially heavy e-bikes.
  • Capacity – able to carry most bikes in terms of their weight.
  • Convenient – an easy bike rack to move around thanks to wheels and a handle.

What We Don’t Like

  • Clamps – frame clamps aren’t as versatile as wheel clamps in terms of bike compatibility.

Alternative: Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Bike Rack

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We’re giving the Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Bike Rack another airing here because it accepts bikes of up to 60 lbs without the extension added.

You can add a ramp to this rack as an optional extra, though the Thule rack above includes one as standard.

Brief History Of These Brands

Thule

Thule, a Swedish company, has a rich history that traces back to 1942 when it was founded by Erik Thulin. Originally, Thule focused on producing products for fishermen, such as fish traps and roof racks.

In the 1960s, the company expanded its product range to include roof boxes and ski racks, catering to outdoor enthusiasts.

Over the years, Thule continued to innovate and diversify its offerings. It introduced its first bike rack in the 1970s, followed by products like kayak carriers and snowboard racks.

In the 1990s, Thule ventured into the global market, establishing subsidiaries and acquiring other companies to enhance its product portfolio. The company further expanded its reach by introducing innovative designs, incorporating advanced technologies, and focusing on user-friendly solutions.

Today, Thule is a well-established global brand recognized for its high-quality and reliable products. It offers a comprehensive range of transportation solutions, including roof racks, cargo carriers, bike racks, and various other outdoor equipment.

Kuat

Kuat is a company that specializes in the manufacturing of innovative bicycle racks and accessories. The company was founded in 2007 by Luke Kuschmeader and Justin Bosworth in Springfield, Missouri, USA. Initially starting as a small operation in a garage, Kuat quickly gained recognition for its high-quality products and unique designs.

Kuat’s breakthrough came with the introduction of the NV, a highly acclaimed hitch-mounted bike rack. The NV’s sleek and functional design, along with its ease of use, set a new standard in the industry. Building on this success, Kuat continued to expand its product line, introducing various bike racks, roof racks, and accessories.

Throughout the years, Kuat has remained committed to innovation, craftsmanship, and exceptional customer service. The company’s dedication to creating durable and aesthetically pleasing products has earned it a loyal customer base.

Today, Kuat is widely regarded as a leader in the bike rack market, known for its stylish designs, durability, and innovative features.

Video: Kuat NV 2.0 Hitch Bike Rack

Features Of These Car Bike Racks Compared

Ease Of Installation

Ease of installation is always an important feature. Are the instructions clear and concise? Do you need many tools to install the bike rack? How long does it take?

Winner: Thule for the T2 Pro XTR. Thule racks are known for their user-friendly installation process, often requiring minimal assembly and offering tool-free installation options.

Design and Aesthetics

The look of a bike rack and attention to detail are important factors for many buyers. How good does the rack look on the car and how neatly does it fold up?

Winner: Kuat for the NV 2.0 Hitch Rack. Kuat racks are recognized for their sleek and stylish designs, often incorporating unique details and color options that add a touch of flair to the rack and complement the bike.

Durability and Sturdiness

Few things are more important about bike racks than their durability and sturdiness. This is decided by the materials used, quality of manufacturing and the finish.

Winner: Kuat for the Piston Pro X, which is superbly constructed and has a Kashima coating. Thule also makes very robust products, but this is a particular Kuat strength.

Bike Protection

A bike rack rack must be able to safeguard your prized bicycles, shielding them from harm and theft. Anti-sway cradles and adjustable wheel trays prevent collisions and abrasions, while bike security features deter thieves.

Winner: Thule for its EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Bike Rack, which has an excellent lockable hitch knob and lockable frame clamps.

Video: Locking A Bike To The EasyFold XT 2 Hitch Rack

Versatility and Compatibility

Certain features on bike racks make them more versatile than others, including wheel clamps rather than frame clamps, or platform-style hitch rack designs rather than hanging style.

Winner: Thule for the ProRide XT Roof Bike Rack. Thule racks fit diverse bike types, with compatibility for various frames, tire sizes, and wheelbases. The ProRide XT holds bikes by their down tubes, ensuring compatibility with most models.

Ease of Loading and Unloading

Loading and unloading ease is crucial for racks. Bike racks that are nearer the ground have an advantage, though even roof racks sometimes have features that cleverly facilitate loading.

Winner: Kuat for the NV 2.0 Hitch Bike Rack (again), which is highly user-friendly and allows use of an optional ramp should you need it.

Thule and Kuat Bike Racks: The FAQs

Is There A Significant Price Difference Between Kuat And Thule Bike Racks?

Neither are budget brands, although Kuat on average is the more expensive brand.

Thule offers products at a variety of price points.

Does Kuat Or Thule Offer Any Bike Racks That Are Unique To Their Brand?

Both brands are innovative and hold many design patents.

Thule excels in thoughtful, ergonomic designs, while Kuat offers great build quality, finish, and unique features.

Can Kuat And Thule Racks Carry E-Bikes?

Yes, both brands make bike racks that are capable of carrying e-bikes.

These are typically platform-style hitch racks in either case.

Thule Or Kuat: Which Car Racks Are Best?

As is often the case with these questions, there is no definitive answer.

However, if you want sublime build quality and good looks, you might veer towards Kuat first. User-friendly design touches and robust security features are both fortes of Thule.

Did you enjoy this article? Please feel free to leave a comment or share it with cycling family and friends.

Read more: Thule versus Yakima bike racks

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Glenn Harper
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When Glenn isn't writing for BikePush, he can often be found cycling on his local rural roads. If he can help you benefit from bicycling in some small way, He’ll consider it a win.

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