By Brandon Bilyeu
- Easy to use – swing bikes with one finger
- Full access to rear of vehicle
- Heavy duty steel construction, 250 lbs (114 kg) capacity can support a four-bike rack
- Adapts any 2 inch hitch rack to a swing away rack
- Can be tricky to install
- Hitch pin can only be inserted from drivers side of hitch
- Swing away convenience comes with a hefty price tag
How Obtained: Review sample from company
Availability: Online and retail stores
RBR Sponsor: No
Tested: 1000+ miles
Add A ‘Pivot’ To Your Existing Bike Rack
Compared to years ago we are quite spoiled by the number and quality of bike racks available today. There are now racks that securely hold our bikes without touching our fancy frames and many racks now have a tilt feature that allows the rear hatch of vehicles to be opened with bikes installed on the rack. But the tilting function does not work with all vehicles, especially those with swing open rear doors instead of hatches, and sometimes you just need full access to the rear of your vehicle.
There are limited options available in terms of racks that offer full access to the rear of a vehicle and chances are you already own a bike rack and don’t want to buy another. Enter the Kuat Pivot. The Pivot is a hitch adapter that mounts between your vehicle and bike rack. It rotates out 90° to allow full access to the rear of a vehicle and will work with any 2” hitch compatible bike rack.
A Little Tricky To Install
After a quick and easy assembly that involves installing four bolts and adjusting four nuts you are ready to install the Pivot. Given that the Pivot is a hefty 45 lbs (20.5 kgs) of steel I recommend you install the Pivot first and then attach your bike rack. A threaded hitch pin secures the Pivot for a rattle free connection, but getting the hitch pin installed takes a bit of trial and error. To support the Pivot and additional bike rack weight the Kuat uses a hitch pin that has a larger thread than found on most racks. The result is that the Pivot must be perfectly aligned to your vehicles receiver pin hole, which is not so easy with the Pivot’s 45 lbs of off-center weight. Moving in/out is difficult in small increments and the off center weight meant I needed a second helper to keep the Pivot from rotating out of alignment vertically.
Some vehicle hitches might have interference problems with the hitch pin that must be inserted from the driver side (USA) of the vehicle. For instance on one vehicle I tested the trailer lights connector box blocked access to inserting the pin (image below, left), but I was lucky the connector box was screwed and not welded in place so I was able to make it work. A nice touch is that the hitch pin has both a 24mm hex bolt head and an 8mm allen wrench fitting for tight spaces. Hopefully in the future Kuat will update the design to allow the hitch pin to be used from either side of the Pivot. For added protection from theft the Pivot comes with a hitch pin lock that easily snaps into place and is solid metal construction with a rubber keyhole cover to keep the grime out.
Simple Operation And Robust Design
After installation of the Pivot you are left with a standard 2” receiver sitting about 2.75 inches (7.0 cm) higher than your vehicle’s receiver. Now you simply install your bike rack (or any other hitch mount accessory) as you normally would. The Pivot is rated to carry 250 lbs (114 kg) which is plenty to support a four-bike rack. It is worth noting that the Pivot extends the length of your vehicle and bike rack by roughly 10 inches (25.4 cm) and as the large warning sticker states the Pivot is not to be used in a towing application.
To ‘Pivot’ the bike rack for full access to the rear of the vehicle takes a matter of seconds. First you pull down on the red lever to release the cam latch and then remove the safety pin. The rack is now free to swing 90 degrees to the side of the vehicle where it hits a stop and you can install the safety pin to keep the rack from swinging back unexpectedly. The plain bearing used at the pivot point is large and smooth, requiring only minimal effort to move the rack and no maintenance. Everything is impressively solid through the whole movement without a hint of wobble. After 1000+ miles (1609+ km) of winter driving in the rain, snow, and grime there is no visible rust and the bearing rotates as smoothly as day one.
The distance from the center of the hitch to the bearing is 27 inches (68.6 cm) and this length combined with the extension of a bike rack easily clears all but the widest vehicles. One consequence of this wide swing arm is that on certain vehicles the exhaust pipe can be right behind the base support arm (the Pivot is only available in one configuration that extends to the passenger side [USA] of the vehicle which eliminates the risk of swinging the rack out into traffic when parked on the street). The exhaust hitting the Pivot can make the metal quite hot but I have not seen any negative effects from this heating. If your exhaust pipe extends rearward of your receiver there will likely be interference with the Pivot. In cases where the exhaust pipe is very close to the Pivot there may be restricted exhaust flow that could cause engine problems. On Kuat’s website they provide very detailed dimensional drawings of the Pivot so you can measure your vehicle and evaluate fit before you buy.
Early production models of the Pivot had two plastic skid plates to avoid any metal to metal contact when in the closed position including the Pivot I tested. The skid plate next to the bearing was partially melted by the heat of the exhaust. I contacted Kuat about this and was informed that they have removed this skid plate from the design as it is not necessary. I was able to remove the melted skid plate easily via two screws.
Bottom Line: A Well Built Accessory That Adds Functionality To Existing Bike Racks
If you want full access to the rear of your vehicle with bike rack installed the Kuat Pivot is a great option to consider. The construction is bomb-proof, after installation ease of use is simple and quick, and it works with your existing bike rack. The price is definitely on the high side but you are paying for quality, load capacity, and the peace of mind that the four bikes on the back are not going to fall off into the road at highway speeds.
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