Kuat NV Core
The NV Core is the base model made for bigger mountain bikes by Kuat (pronounced "koo-at", like "who dat?"). I've used a lot of racks over the years - rear racks and roof racks - and I always hated how the rear racks always bounced the bikes around and scratched them up. And it was always a pain to get heavy bikes up on the roof rack of my truck, especially for my wife, even though she had a light Yeti ASR.
Those days are over - tow hitch racks are the only way to go for bikes. I tested the NV Core over several months on everything from road trips to 4WD roads. It worked great in all conditions.
The NV Core holds two bikes, up to 120 pounds total, so big downhill bikes are no problem. It's streamlined to just the essentials and it literally takes only seconds to put two bikes on the car. The Core fits bikes with 24 to 29 inch wheels, although if you want to carry a 20 inch bike, you'll need an adaptor.
We even used this rack on a film project where we shuttled bikes up and down 4WD roads for a commercial for the Salida Bike Company. Check it out here: SBC Bike Film.
Of course, most pieces of gear come with a few compromises. In this case, the NV Core doesn't fit my 2000 Isuzu Trooper properly so the back door won't open with the rack on. Since this is a test rack, it's no big deal, but you'll want to try the rack on your car to make sure everything clears before you buy it.
The NV Core does not come with a lock, so you'll need a cable lock when traveling. There is no way to lock the hitch and someone with a wrench could take the whole rack off a car in around 30 seconds.
The NV Core only holds two bikes and you cannot expand it to four bikes. To do that, you have to purchase the model up, called the NV which has built in cable and hitch locks, a built-in repair stand and better colors (MSRP $549).
Overall, the NV Core is a great rack if you'll only ever carry 2 bikes and you park in secure areas. The model up, the NV, is a better option.
Tested by Nathan Ward, www.NathanWard.com