There are products out there that while certainly more of a luxury item, once you use them, you feel as if they are an absolute necessity. The Kuat Pivot v2 is one of those products – and it’s the first time I would say that about any swing away bike rack adapter.
The Kuat Pivot v2 is certainly not the first swing away adapter – it’s right there in the name. But the brand seems to have learned exactly how they should improve on the original to create the best adapter that I’ve had the chance to use.
For those new to the world of swing away hitch adapters, they’re sole purpose is to allow you to swing away a fully loaded rack from the vehicle, to better access your trunk, hatch, or truck bed. For normal use at the trail head, this is definitely a luxury. But if you leave your bike rack on the vehicle all the time, it really becomes more of a necessity – especially when you’re trying to load 10 bags of mulch into the back of your vehicle. But honestly, most of the swing away adapters, including the original Pivot, fall short in their usability or design to make it something I would want for my vehicle. The Pivot v2 changes that.
Notably for those following along with my Honda Element related rack adventures, the v2 is now available in left or right swing. That’s critical for vehicles like my Element where the original Pivot blocked the exhaust pipe causing the rack to heat up, and the vehicle and bikes to get covered in soot. The left swing version is perfect for vehicles with an exhaust pipe on the right side – just make sure you don’t swing it into oncoming traffic.
Compared to all of the other swing away adapters, the Pivot v2 has a surprisingly thin profile. Likely because of that, it weighs in at 39lbs. That’s still pretty heavy, but it’s 7lbs lighter than the original and still has a 250lb weight limit. Only available for 2″ hitch mounts, the opening for the rack is also 2″, though you should be able to use an adapter to install a 1 1/4″ rack to the adapter.
The key to the entire design seems to be the new oversized stainless steel and aluminum thru axle pivot. When used with a fully loaded rack, there is a lot of strain on this joint. However, even when fully loaded the Pivot v2 doesn’t flinch – or sag. That’s important. I’ve used other swing away adapters where you actually have to lift the rack as you’re swinging it closed because it sags so much. Not here. The Pivot’s pivot works flawlessly and smoothly allows you to open or close the adapter.
To hold the adapter shut, Kuat uses a toggle clamp system. It’s really quite simple and easy to use. Push the lever down, and it quickly disengages. Pull up, and it locks everything down into place with a flat lever that will clear most hatches, tailgates, and liftgates.
Combined with their quick release locking lever, it’s not even fair how much faster this adapter is to use than the competition. There are no cotter pins to fumble with, no trying to line up holes to drop a pin through. Just give the lever a slight pull with your finger tips, and swing it open into position where it will automatically lock in place. I appreciate the fact that the lever is designed to clear most hitch pin locks – even from other brands.
After opening the adapter, it will swing away and lock into place at 90°. The adapter will open even farther to 120°, but it won’t lock at this extreme position.
UPDATE: According to Kuat, the handle shipped with my rack is defective, and they’re shipping a new one ASAP. One area that Kuat always excels at is their customer service, and availability of replacement parts. I’ll update again once I have the new lever in hand.
UPDATE #2: Unfortunately, the replacement latch handle that Kuat sent out did not fix the issue. Fortunately, I found an easy way to fix the problem and it’s all in the initial set up. The latch handle seems to rely on friction from the mounting plates pushing outwards to hold the handle in place, preventing it from falling down and causing the issue outlined below. But on my adapter, if you simply tighten down the bolts, those mounting plates seem to move inwards, and don’t apply the proper friction.
To fix it, while the bolts were still loose I wedged a standard razor blade between the two halves of the mounting plate. With that in place, I was able to torque down the bolts and the blade kept the two halves from moving while tightening the bolts. After they were fully torqued, I removed the blade with a pair of pliers, and the adjustment holds. It’s unfortunate that you have to do this to get the latch to work properly, but it seems to be a very simple fix that anyone can do.
The only criticism I have with the entire adapter is that when you swing the adapter closed, the toggle clamp lever hangs down and will prevent you from closing it until you lift the lever slightly to get it over the post. On the Kuat instructional videos, it looks like they position the lever so that it will clear the post, but the joint on my lever is loose enough that it won’t allow you to do that. I’ve reached out to Kuat to check if there’s something different with my rack, or if I’m doing something wrong, and will update if necessary. Fortunately, it is a very minor inconvenience for an adapter that’s otherwise extremely easy to use.
Another departure from v1 is the addition of their proprietary Flatlock Hitch Cam which snugs the rack into the hitch with an 8mm hex wrench.
The rack still includes a locking hitch pin to lock the rack to the vehicle, but this just slides into place. No need to get under the car with a wrench to keep it from swaying. That’s now done at the front.
The Pivot v2 is just about everything you could want out of a swing away adapter. Just about every adapter I’ve tried is functional, but the Pivot v2 brings the category to a level where it feels like a polished product. The v2 is easier to use, much faster to open and close, and it looks better than the v1 as well. Overall, I’m quite impressed. This one will staying on my vehicle indefinitely.
The Pivot v2 sells for $329 in passenger or driver’s side swing models for 2″ hitches.