Midwest United States-based brand Küat offers a variety of hitch-based bicycle racks ranging from basic to extravagant. Most of the racks in the line have, up until now, used a single-arm style design over the front wheel to secure the bike. With their new Piston X series, Küat's latest rack uses a ratcheting two-arm style mechanism to secure bikes without touching the frame.
The rack also comes with a host of other features including Kashima coating, pneumatics, and LED taillights.
Piston Pro X Details
• 2 bike capacity, add on for up to 4 bikes
• 18"-29" wheel size compatible
• Accommodates tires up to 5" wide, wheelbase up to 53"
• Capacity: 67lbs per tray
• Lifetime warranty
• MSRP: $1,389 USD
According to Küat, ease of use was high on the priority list when designing the The Piston Pro X. The hydro-pneumatic tire chocks are released with the push of one lever per arm and they can drop all the way down and out of the way to assist with loading more cumbersome bikes. If that's not enough, there is an optional e-bike ramp to assist with loading and unloading those machines.
There's a magnetic quick-connect plug for brake and signal lights, a 12mm thick semi-integrated cable lock for security, and IGUS bushings on major pivots of the rack. The entire thing is powder-coated. All of the steel hardware has a 750-hour salt spray to prevent corrosion.
A lockable Flatlock hitch cam prevents the rack from swaying side to side, and deters theft. The rack folds up via a foot or hand actuated pivot on the two bike version and it's expandable to a three or four bike system with the addition of add-on trays.
The rack is available in the spring of 2022 at Küat retailers and there will be several less-than-full-featured models released later in the year with prices for those starting at $989 USD.PERFORMANCE
I have had the Piston Pro X for a couple of months now, so I've had a fair amount of time to familiarize myself with its use and function. I've also loaned it out to a few others in order to let them use it and hear their thoughts. As it's one of the most expensive bike racks available, my expectations were high, to say the least.
If you buy the rack from a dealer, I would fully expect them to assemble and install it for you. Assembly of the rack, should you have to do it yourself, is simple and involves minimal steps and no more than 20 minutes of your time, and that's if you're mechanically inept. It's a quick process that involves putting it into the hitch, running a few long bolts to connect the left and right trays, and connecting the taillights. Unpackaging it actually took longer than putting it together.
Brake lights are connected via a standard trailer brake adapter. There's a magnetic socket that clips into the rack and then magnetic clips to accommodate any slack.
Using the rack is as straight forward as it gets. The wheel chocks are opened by pushing a lever that activates the Kashima-coated pneumatic arm. There's one for each side so the bike can be adjusted a bit to the left or right - super handy should the seat from one bike be in the zone of the handlebars of your riding partners'. Bikes can be simply set in the rack, push the arm for one side up, push up the other until it's snug, and off you go.
Wheel size is easily adjustable by pinching the tabs on the adjustable slider on each arm and putting it into the corresponding position. If there is a need to snug up the cam on the rack while out and about, there's an 8mm wrench tucked into the lockable mount for add-on trays at the end of the rack.
Adjustable from 29" down to 18" with a pinch.
The rack has performed flawlessly in the time I have had it. The brake lights are bright and visible whether the rack is in use or folded up and the arms and indexing function that locks the bike in place have shown no issues or signs of wear. I've taken to washing bikes after riding while they're still on the rack, spraying plenty of dirt, grime, degreasers, and various cleaners on the rack with zero issues. Two months is a very small percent of how long I would expect a rack like this to hold up but, there are no signs to indicate otherwise, even with as many moving parts as the Piston has. While it's also reassuring that Küat gave it a lifetime warranty, I would expect nothing less after spending that much money on a bike rack.
Pushing the lever for the hydropneumatic arm opens it up. Push it again and you can fold the arm down, allowing bikes to be loaded from the side.
Easy to use+
Not all cars will have wiring to use brake light feature-
Not the lightest to install