Review: Kuat Highline 3-bike car rack


I am a fickle woman. When it comes to car racks, there are so many options and I want all of them. A hitch rack is so easy but I’ve also bottomed it out on poorly designed driveways and have been rear-ended by people who can’t see the rack. Roof racks remind me of the aughts when bikes on the roof meant business, and seeing someone with sick bikes on their roof on the highway was like seeing someone with a Crass butt-flap in a gas station snack aisle. Kindred spirits. But they are such a hassle to use, and don’t work at all if you want to carry a tent up there, or maybe you finally buy that canoe you’ve been ogling for six years. I was always a bit of a snob when it came to rear racks: those extra flaps wafting in the wind, bikes hanging jankly from a few arms like someone carrying too much firewood back to camp.

But I do occasionally need to travel by car with my bike, so what’s a broad to do? Thankfully, Kuat came to my aid with the Highline, a trunk model that answers a lot of problems I have, at least in regards to transporting my bikes long distances. It holds three bikes, and with its sturdy strap system for the bikes themselves, I felt confident driving around without the constant peeking into the rearview mirror to make sure everything was where I left it.

This rack is heavy. With a wrist still weak from being broken last year, I required the assistance of two other staffers for the installation of this thing (thanks, Moe and Michelle!). Because of the shape of my hatchback, it was very tricky to get the hooks in place, but in the scope of life complaints that doesn’t sit very high up. I had to call Kuat’s customer service line because there was an asterisk on my car model, and that did little to help in the set-up, but we used our collective brainpower and eventually got the thing on the car in a way that didn’t look like it was about to bust open my rear window. Because it is so heavy, even though this rack is designed so that you can open your door while the rack is on, it makes the door very heavy and cumbersome if you have a bunch of groceries or camping gear you’re trying to throw in the back of your car.

I used this rack to drive up to Boston to see family, down to Philadelphia, then back across Pennsylvania with two bikes in tow. I hit all varieties of weather and never felt wary about the bikes’ stability on the back of my car. In Philadelphia, I did notice that all the rack straps had come loose, and it took some effort to get things tightened back down to where the rack was sitting on the car at all four contact points. Considering I had tossed this on over a month ago, though, I think that is very fair and liken it more to a pair of jeans stretching out a bit over time between washes than a faulty design.

Possibly the best feature for me is that the arms fold down when not in use. This means I can sustain all the benefits of having a compact car while still having the bike rack mounted on the back, with minimal effort to get the rack set up to hold bikes again (really, just a little tab on each arm does the trick). While I should eventually come to terms with my own fickle nature and make a decision for once, this is a really handy solution to a transportation dilemma, whether temporary or existential.



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