Head to Head: Kuat NV vs. 1Up USA Rack in Black (2.0, 1.25)
I believe I was probably one of the first with a KUAT NV in the Bay area. I had a 2 in. hitch on my Touareg. Loved it. Trail doc was ok. Customer service excellent. Aesthetically, beyond Thule and Yakima. Of note, I owned Thule roof rack/echelon trays for many years prior to going Kuat NV.
Later got the add-on, which was nice, but a bit unwieldy and probably overkill for my needs since I often carried only two bikes and only 3+ on occasion.
Since, I sold the Touareg and picked up an Audi Allroad, put a 1.25" hitch. Got the Kuat NV in a 1.25" and have been underwhelmed... feels much less solid than the 2.0in which seems obvious. There is A LOT more sway in the 1.25 vs. the 2.0 Because of the shape of where the rack connects to the hitch, it also doesn't lie as flat on the ground (vs. the 2.0 version) when the rack is off the car.
To that end, ordered the 1Up and it arrived today... in black. I can say that all of the reviews praising fit & finish and craftsmanship are spot on. The thing is STURDY. On initial inspection and comparison, IMHO, it's at another level above KUAT. Caveat... I've installed it onto the hitch (it's so easy), but I have yet to take it out for a spin.
My initial hunch is that I'm selling the KUAT in favor of the 1Up. It seems more versatile: can have 1 tray on the car, or 2, or 3... It's more compact and easily storeable; can be put in the trunk of a car if ever needed... it's beautiful in black... it's more solid, especially if I compare 1.25" versions.
Will follow up with any further thoughts after I take it for a spin/real-world testing. If anyone has any specific questions, let me know. As someone who has real world experience with the KUAT NV in 2.0 and 1.25" hitch versions, as well as a recent owner of the 1UP in black, I hope to be able to fill any gaps for those deciding between the two.
I dig mine too.
I've had a 1.25 Kuat NV for around 3 years now... no complaints. I've easily driven a couple 1,000 miles with two 29er's on there.
It is exceptionally well designed in my opinion- I've had a few mishaps that ended well:
While yacking away when stowing my bike one day after a trail ride, I forgot to attach the rear strap. I got < 1 mile down the road and the rear wheel came loose over a bump in the road. The front wheel stayed put and I was able to pull over with no major bike calamity (other than a few rear wheel hops on the pavement.
I drive into work once a week with a bike (cycle into the office most days otherwise). A couple months ago I backed into a parking spot at an angle (due to some fool's poor parking job next to me) where there was a bit of guard rail overhang. I hadn't noticed that my front wheel ended up just behind the guard rail as I turned the wheel to straighten the car out. When jumped in the car and pulled away, my front wheel caught and popped out of the Kuat arm. No hard done to the wheel.
"Solid" is a relative term and my thought is a bit of movement can be a good thing
I have spent many years, loving my Kuat NV.
"Solid" is definitely relative, but I do think I'm in a unique position to be able to compare... Kuat NV 2.o" 2 tray vs. 4 tray vs. Kuat NV 1.25" vs. the 1UPUsa...
I'm guessing all of these racks are probably more than adequate and do the job. Had I not come off a 2.0" hitch and gone from roof rack to 1.25" Kuat NV, I probably would have been blown away. That said, the way they constructed the 1.25" and 2.0" is slightly different to obviously adjust to the two different hitch sizes. Comparing the different hitch versions, I can honestly say that the 2.0 is a lot more "solid"... less sway, beefier etc. That shouldn't come as a surprise. The second difference is how the rack sits when you take it off the hitch and set it on the floor of the garage for storage... the 2in version of the Kuat lays down a little more even, while the 1.25" is just a little awkward because of the shape/curvature of the piece that connects the part that goes into the hitch and the rest of the rack. I plan to take the rack on/off as I previously had done, so this awkward floor position, along with the extra noticeable sway in comparison to my previous Kuat opened the door to 1Up.
In comparison (so far) between the Kuat 1.25" and the 1UP 1.25", the difference in "Solid feel" is startling. If you attempt to sway or move the Kuat when it is attached to the vehicle, there is some give and subtle creakiness. As mentioned above, some give/sway is okay and nothing alarming. But in comparison, you try moving/pushing against the 1UP while attached to the car, and you move the whole car (which I should note is the exact same result if I pushed against the 2" version of the Kuat.
Ultimately, the Kuat NV is a fine rack and either version. But while probably over-engineered, the 1UP takes it to another level in fit/finish, flexibility and convenience. Again, I can't quite speak to on road performance until I get out there, but initial inspection and install goes to the 1UP so far.
Over the past several years, many folks have come up to me asking about my Kuat and I was proud to list all the reasons why I loved it. I am actually quite surprised that I believe to have found something better.
In one person's humble opinion, the shoot out is closer when comparing 2.0" vs. 2.o" because the KUAT is solid. However, while one can argue over-engineering, I personally believe that if you don't already have a rack, the 1UP is the way to go for a 1.25" hitch receiver... Modular, more compact, up to 3 trays (vs. only 2 for Kuat) and for more subtle reasons, the machining is a piece of art. Photos would lead one to believe the Kuat would win in a design/aesthetic comparison, but in person I again give the edge to the 1UP (in black anyways).
I hope this helps prospective buyers out there!
YetiDawg - like the set up and the white/white. I'll eventually post photos too... was considering the Q5, but went with a black Allroad and black 1Up!
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