Every now and then, I get to test a product that’s just an absolute slam dunk. Usually, it’s a product that just perfectly solves some problem related to outdoor adventure or life, and does it with an elegant solution. I’ve been testing gear since 2013 and there have only been a few products that fit that description, but the Küat Pivot V2 fits the bill. I did run into some snags while reviewing it, which I’ll talk about, but for the right user this can really change the experience of using your hitch. We reviewed the original Pivot a few years ago, and today we’ll talk about the V2.
Küat Pivot V2 Features:
- A quick release 90 and 120 degree swing away
- Driver or Passenger side swing
- FlatLock™ hitch cam reduces wobble
- Oversized stainless steel and aluminum thru-axle
- Locking hitch pin included
- Pivot requires a Class III hitch receiver
- NOT RV compatible
- You should not attach a vertical or hanging style bicycle rack to a hitch extender or swing arm
- MSRP: $398
Reclaim your hitch, hatch or rear door:
The concept of the Küat Pivot is really simple. Virtually all hitch-mounted bike, gear or ski haulers compromise access to the rear of your vehicle. That might be a tailgate, a door that swings up or out, or the double doors of a camper van. Most modern racks incorporate a tilting feature, but generally that only really helps with rear hatches that open upwards. When we were building out our camper van, we needed a good way to haul gear on the rear hitch but still have access to our under-the-bed garage in the rear of the van.
The Pivot is essentially a hitch extender with a swingarm. You put the Pivot into your hitch, and an arm transfers the load out to a bearing which lets the Pivot’s receiver hitch to rotate nearly 120º out to the side. It returns to rest on a platform attached to the Pivot’s main attachment to the vehicle hitch to unload the bearing. You can choose either driver- or passenger-opening models.
Controlling the Pivot’s motion is simple. There’s a lever which you can pull with two or three fingers which releases a locking pin that keeps the Pivot from rotating. This pin has detents when the rack is closed or at 90º, and can help prevent unwanted motion. When the Pivot is returned to its home position, a heavy-duty lever secures the rack in position.
When the Pivot V2 arrives, there’s a little bit of assembly required but it’s pretty minimal. You have to screw in the stud that the main lock latch grabs onto as well as that main latch, but the whole process didn’t take more than 15 minutes and all the tools are included.
You’ll notice some differences from the original Pivot that we reviewed. It’s really a fundamental redesign; previously, the arms sat on top of each other, but now they’re adjacent to one another but still with a platform off the main hitch that the swinging arm rests on to take the load off. The main locking lever has also been redesigned. One of the main improvements is that locking pin, which replaces a manual lock pin and automatically stops the rack when closed or at 90º. If you have little ones around or are on a slope, this could save a nasty pinch or smack.
The new Pivot V2 also shaved some weight off the old one, clocking in at 39lbs down from 47lbs for the original. It’s only available for 2″ receivers although adaptors are available. Wobble is controlled with a proprietary, hex-driven ‘Flatlock Hitch Cam’, which secures the rack in the receiver to minimize wobble. Küat includes a locking hitch pin, another upgrade from the original which required a tight-fitting bolt here.
We used the passenger-swinging Pivot V2 on our Ford Transit camper van. The Pivot completely changed our van lives. Previously, I’d often dread accessing stuff in the gear garage of the van because it meant either unloading the rack or some tight-space spelunking to reach through partially opened van doors. I’d inevitably give the paint a little smack against some bike part, too.
With the Pivot V2, that’s all changed. It’s effortless to swing the load completely out of the way to open the van doors fully. Our heaviest loads were probably around 60lbs with two full-suspension mountain bikes, and while it seemed obvious that the pivot point was under a lot of strain from the leverage the load was putting on it, it never sagged, it pulled smoothly, and it returned to its dock without any bumps. I was, and am, seriously impressed with the strength of that bearing and the overall rating of the rack is 250lbs.
Be aware of where your exhaust pipe comes out, and also consider whether you have a rear-mounted spare tire. My Toyota Rav4 has a spare on the rear door, but my existing bike racks already gave me enough clearance to not touch the spare and, besides, the Pivot V2 acts just like a short hitch extender.
Now for a little bit of a cloud in the sky. For reasons that are a little unclear to me still, our rack started to have issues with the locking pin release lever. When the rack was brand new, it was easy to pull with a couple of fingers. After a few weeks of use, the lever started to be really hard to pull and no amount of adjusting the rack or load seemed to help. A few weeks later, the lever’s bolt snapped off right before a big trip. I reached out to Küat, and for the most part they treated me really well. They took about a week to respond to the initial request, but after we got going they quickly assessed that the issue couldn’t be fixed. So, they shipped out a brand new Pivot V2.
Obviously it would have been ideal if the rack hadn’t broken, but Küat’s customer service handled the issue well, which is an important part of the consumer experience. I’ve had recent experiences with Thule’s customer service, and I have to say, Küat’s was way easier to deal with. It doesn’t feel as much like you’re a tiny pebble facing a giant multi-national company.
- Truly a game changing product for accessing both your gear AND your vehicle
- For camper van owners in particular, I think the Pivot V2 is a must-include part of a buildout
- Swinging motion was smooth and predictable
- Automatic locking pin helps prevent unwanted motion, whereas the main locking latch kept things really secure
- ‘Assembly’ was easy and basically consisted of five bolts attached with included wrenches
- Built-in anti-wobble is increasingly standard on today’s racks, but nonetheless I appreciated it
- Obviously a bummer that mine broke, but Küat made things right with very little hassle
- Make sure to check the position of your vehicles exhaust as passenger-opening orientation can block your pipes
- Adds about 8″ to your vehicle length
The Bottom Line: Kuat Pivot V2
I try to stay away from superlatives in my reviews, but the Küat Pivot V2 really is one of the best products I’ve run into over the years. It really made accessing our vehicle so much easier, whether we’re loading up at the house or fumbling with frozen fingers at a backcountry trailhead. I’ll update this review if there are any longevity issues with the bearing, but for the time being, I’m really confident in this rack’s design and construction. The Küat Pivot V2 can help you reclaim both your gear hauling and your rear vehicle access.
Buy now: Available from Kuat.com