A lightweight rack for road bikes and burly downhill mountain bikes
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TripSavvy / Suzie Dundas
Installation is easy and takes under 20 minutes
The rack flips up when not in use and down when you need to access your trunk
A slim inner channel in the wheelbase provides a safe rest for road bikes and skinny tires
The included locking cable feels like it’d be easy to cut
Back wheels of larger bikes hang a bit off the rack
Hitch-install only: if you don't have a hitch, you’ll need to pay $500 or more to install one
With secure holds and a smart flip-down feature for easy trunk access, you won’t find a better two-bike rack than the Sherpa 2.0.
We purchased the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 Bike Rack so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you've tried to order any biking gear recently and noticed nearly everything is on backorder, you've realized a new sign of our times. Cycling has quite literally never been more popular in North America. And why not? People are staying closer to home and cycling is a great way to stay healthy and happy in your own neighborhood (or while exploring a new city on vacation).
But whether you've recently started cycling or have been riding for decades, you're likely to encounter the same problem: What's the best way to carry your bikes if not riding directly from home? Unless you're willing to put your often mud-covered bike inside your car, you'll need a vehicle-mount bike rack. Since bikes can easily cost several thousands of dollars, knowing your rack will keep your bikes secure is imperative—especially while hauling your wheels on a longer road trip or multi-sport adventure.
No doubt several reputable brands make quality bike racks. Missouri-based Kuat is one of the newer entrants into the crowded space and its Sherpa 2.0 has rapidly become one of the most popular hitch rack options on the market. And for good reason. Able to hold two bikes, it's easy to install and is loaded with smart features. Here's our frequent cyclist's take on the rack and whether it's worth the investment.
I've been using the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 for a few weeks and the quality has lived up to Kuat's reputation for durability and performance. So far, it does exactly what is expected of a good bike rack. It securely holds bikes of any size across any terrain, from 80 miles per hour on the highway to unpaved and rowdy access roads where 15 miles per hour is the max. At no point during my testing did it appear either bike had shifted or slipped—even the skinny road bike.
The Kuat 2.0 is highly functional and highly intuitive. Forgot to lower the rack? No problem. Use the foot release to drop it while you've got two hands on the bike. Holding the bike upright with one hand? Also not an issue. The front-tire ratchet arm can be adjusted and locked single-handedly.
Never before would I have thought of describing a bike rack as elegant, but it's hard to deny that the Sherpa 2.0 is a step or two above most of the bulky racks on the market. Bike racks aren't exactly a fashion statement, but the subtle look of the Sherpa 2.0—especially when raised without bikes and against a dark vehicle—looks better than most.
The Sherpa 2.0 holds two bikes—up to 40 pounds each—with over a foot of space between them. So there's no risk of bikes rubbing against each other, or pedals or handlebars bumping each other while driving. Designed to handle wheelbases up to 47 inches and tires up to three inches wide, I had no problem fitting both my road bike and mountain bike, which has 2.6-inch wide and 29-inch diameter tires. The Sherpa 2.0's wide tire cradles are especially helpful for the 29ers. Thanks to a smaller inner channel, my 0.9-inch-wide road bike tire felt just as safe. An adjustable strap keeps the back tires in place, though the front pivot arm is likely more than enough to keep bikes stable. Fat-bikers will need to buy a cradle adapter.
Keep in mind that the Sherpa 2.0 isn’t as wide as other racks, which leaves a part of the back tire unsupported. This makes the rack look unbalanced and concerned me at first, but it’s clear the bikes are just as secure as they’d be in other racks with a full-wheel cradle.
The pivot lever pivots the rack down, leaving your bikes at around a 45-degree angle and creating plenty of space to open the hatchback trunk on most SUVs. Without this feature, you’d have to remove your bikes to pop the trunk.
The Sherpa 2.0 comes in a large and heavy box (nearly 4-feet long and over 40 pounds), so your mail carrier may require you to retrieve it from a post office if they're unable to carry it to your door. The trade-off for the heavy packaging is an almost entirely assembled rack. (It should also be noted that the actual rack weighs only 32 pounds.) Connecting the racks to the base and locking the base into your hitch are the only significant installation steps. Tip: Make sure to measure your hitch before buying as the rack comes in both 2-inch and 1.5-inch sizes.
Overall, installation took no more than ten minutes. Removing the rack from the vehicle is as easy as removing the hitch pin, which takes under a minute with the included Kuat tools.
Let's face it—a bike rack isn't likely to be the most high-tech piece of gear you'll buy this year. But the Sherpa 2.0 does have two key features I've come to find indispensable.
First is the aptly-named pivot lever, which is easy enough to pull with one hand or push with a foot for hands-free use. The lever pivots the rack down, leaving your bikes at around a 45-degree angle. For most SUVs, that creates plenty of space to open a hatchback trunk for easy gear or luggage access. Without this feature, you'd have to remove the bikes entirely (or climb through the backseats of your car). It's a serious time-saver when you realize you've left your bike pump rolling around in the trunk.
My second favorite feature is how easy it is to use the locking arm on the front tire. Thanks to the one-handed operation, a single person can place a bike on the rack, hold it steady with one hand, and lock it in place with the other. On my other bike rack, it takes two hands to adjust the arm, which can be a tricky balancing act without a friend to hold the bike upright in the process.
Anyone with a favorite bike knows the fear that comes with leaving said bike unattended while you duck into the market for a post-ride six-pack. To help calm your fears—help, not cure—the Sherpa 2.0 comes with an integrated cable that wraps around your bikes and locks into the frame, securely attaching your bikes to the vehicle.
The lock is probably enough to deter someone from attempting a quick parking lot steal, but if your bike is going to be left unattended for hours, you'll likely want to use your own more secure locking method. A thief with the proper tools will be able to cut most cord-based locks in a matter of minutes. So, while we appreciate the built-in lock, we also recommend securing your bikes with an extra lock.
Never before would we have thought of describing a bike rack as elegant, but it’s hard to deny that the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 is a step or two above most of the bulky racks on the market.
The Sherpa 2.0 isn't cheap, but it's comparable to other high-end bike racks. If you don't already have a hitch, you'll likely spend another few hundred dollars to have one installed at a local dealer. Note: If you don't have a hitch, you'll likely want to pick a different style of rack. Most retailer sites have the option to input your vehicle's year, make, and model to find the best option for you.
However, if you're like me—and many other cyclists—the cost is worth it to know your $5,000-plus mountain bike(s) won't fly off onto the interstate. And it's one of the more affordable hitch-racks with the pivot-down trunk-access feature.
If you're not as concerned about the brand's reputation or fancier features like pivoting up and down, there are more affordable alternatives.
If you only need to carry one bike or don’t have a hitch installed, opt for a roof rack like the Yakima Highroad. It only carries one bike, but as long as you have crossbars, you’ll have a secure rack at a relatively budget price. For a single-bike hitch-mount option, the Thule T1 is a great buy.
If you're a Kuat fan but need to carry more bikes at once, you'll want to buy the NV Base 2.0 plus a one- or two-bike adaptor. (Ensure your hitch is rated to carry the weight of three or four bikes before you hit the road.)
Not a Kuat fan? Thule makes two-bike hitch mounts starting at around the same price, though many online are sold out until the fall of 2021. Thule racks have an equally strong reputation and are a bit wider than the Sherpa 2.0, making Thule options possibly the best bike racks if you’re concerned about the way your back tires hang off the Kuat racks.
If you need a sturdy, useful bike rack and value the peace of mind that comes with a well-known brand, you won't find a better choice than the Sherpa 2.0. Sure, other racks can carry your bike from Point A to Point B, but they won't have the features that come standard on this rack for the same price.
Thanks to the lightweight aluminum frame, foot-deployable pivot lever, and one-hand adjustments, it's easy to load and unload bikes even if you're tired from a 3,000-foot downhill or 50-mile road climb. We've used four racks in the last year, and the convenient features and ease of use make the Kuat Sherpa 2.0 our hands-down favorite.
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