Küat Piston Pro X
Materials: Aluminum and steel
Capacity: 2 bikes
There are a few common, inconvenient truths about bike racks: Getting a bike on is awkward. It typically takes both hands to open a rack for loading. Most bike racks are incongruous with a high-end bike or nice car. And hitch racks block a car’s license plate and tail lights.
Granted, those things haven’t stopped me from using a hitch rack. A hitch-mounted tray rack that doesn’t touch the bike’s frame is the best way to carry a high-end bike because you don’t have to lift it onto the roof, and there’s no danger of frame damage unless you get rear-ended.
But Küat's $1,389 Piston Pro X takes everything that’s great about a hitch rack and makes it better. With solid construction and a bevy of smart features, the rack also addresses the category's most annoying hangups, making it simple to use — and maybe even fun.
To open the rack, I squeezed a lever, which released the spring-loaded, pneumatic arms, which feature pistons resembling the exposed part of a high-end mountain bike fork. Each side of each bike mount has a lever release that pops the rack arm open 180 degrees so that it’s level with the ground. I set my bike on the non-directional tray — the front wheel can face either way — and, holding my bike with one hand, I ratcheted in each rack arm until it was tight on the wheel.
A huge advantage over non-directional racks is that it’s easy to offset bikes so that their handlebars and saddles don’t clash. The Piston Pro X fits 20- to 29-inch tires up to 5 inches wide, and bikes with up to a 53-inch wheelbase. Each tray can hold 67 pounds, meaning e-bikes are welcome. Küat will also offer add-on trays so that you can carry up to four bikes, as well as an e-bike ramp to help load heavy bikes.
While the main material is aluminum, Küat also employs high-quality IGUS bushings on key pivots, custom-formulated Tiger Powder coating and stainless steel hardware. There’s also an automotive-grade 750-hour salt spray on steel components, so this rack shouldn’t rust even if you drive it all winter on salty roads.
One of the Piston Pro X’s most notable features is its handy integrated LED taillights. Küat designed the rack so that the lights are visible when the rack is empty and folded up against the tailgate, as well as when it’s loaded. To use this feature, your car needs a wiring harness, which can be installed by your mechanic. Pair the car wiring harness with the rack wiring harness, which attaches magnetically to the rack. When you take the rack off your car, the rack wiring clicks off effortlessly.
Instead of theft deterrents — how I’d characterize most rack-integrated bike locks — the Piston Pro X has a semi-integrated, rubber-coated, 12-millimeter thick cable lock that lives in your trunk until you need it. It clicks into a lockable fitting in the rack after wrapping around multiple bikes.
One more thing I love? The stability and security with which this rack attaches to transporting vehicles. Küat’s camming hitch tightens with a knob, then locks in place with a hex key that’s integrated into the locking rack handle, so there’s no wobbling or swinging even on class 4 roads.
Sometimes a brand introduces a product with a platinum price tag and a bronze build. The price of this rack matches the quality, performance and features. As soon as I can get my hands on more mounts to expand this rack to carry four bikes, I will.