In-Depth Review: Old Man Mountain Divide Rack (900 Rugged Miles in Central Asia)

Imagine this predicament: You want to carry a hefty amount of gear and supplies for an adventurous bikepacking trip on rugged backroads. This mountain of gear won’t fit in bikepacking bags, so you’ll need to use a cargo rack.

Only one problem: your beloved bike, otherwise perfect for the job, doesn’t have eyelets for mounting a rack.

Sounds tough! You should probably buy a new bike. 😉

Hold up, just kidding! We all love excuses to shop for a new bikepacking bike, but Old Man Mountain has been solving this problem for many years. This summer their Divide rack solved it beautifully for me on a monthlong trip in Central Asia.

Try as I might to fit all the gear and food needed for this trip into a bikepacking bag setup, the space just wasn’t there on my size small frame. I desperately wanted to ride my super-comfy Stella for the trip, but she has no rack eyelets to be found. I thought I’d left racks behind in my pavement touring days with my Ortliebs and Long Haul Trucker, but there I was, trying to figure out how to put a bikepacking rack on my mountain bike.

The Old Man Mountain Divide rack, with its thru axle “Fit Kit” mounting option, is the obvious solution. I’d heard good things. In a last-minute rush I ordered one, mounted it, did a single test ride around the neighborhood, then packed the bike and headed off to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan for a month of incredible bikepacking.

Though I would never recommend starting a big trip without more thorough gear testing (shame on me!) the Old Man Mountain Divide worked out beautifully. A few challenges did try and stop us from completing that trip, as you can read in the trip report, but my rack was definitely not one of them!

In this detailed review of the Old Man Mountain Divide rack I’ll share my impressions, tips, and pictures, as well as my thoughts on who will appreciate this rack and who might want to look at other solutions.

I paid for my Old Man Mountain Divide and have no relationship with the brand. There are, however, some affiliate links in this post which help support the continued existence of this website.

Review Summary

Product: Divide Rack from Old Man Mountain

The Divide rack from Old Man Mountain is a burly, versatile, full-featured cargo rack that can mount to nearly any bike in front or rear, even if the bike lacks mounting eyelets. It’s neither the lightest nor cheapest rack out there, but I found it to be bombproof, user-friendly, and completely problem-free during 900 miles of rugged bikepacking in Central Asia.

Price: $168 for rack, plus Fit Kit if needed for axle mounting (between $60 to $80)

Weight: 960 g including all hardware and extenders

Max load: 55 lbs eyelet mounted, 70 lbs axle mounted

Max tire size: 29×3″ for regular Divide, 27.5x 4.6 or 26×5″ for Divide Fat

Material: aluminum

Pannier rail diameter: 10 mm

My rating: 4.3 / 5 stars, performs really well but there are a couple downsides to be aware of

Pros:

  • Can be mounted to bikes with or without rack eyelets
  • Can be used as either front or rear rack
  • Versatile and adjustable enough to fit a wide range of bikes from road to mountain
  • Sturdy, durable, and reliable
  • High weight limit of 70 pounds when axle mounted

Cons:

  • Expensive, especially if using a Fit Kit
  • Complex assembly and mounting (though the instructions are very clear)
  • Not the lightest rack; likely too heavy if you just need a minimalist rigid seat bag alternative
  • When axle mounted, rack must be removed from axle in order to remove the wheel, which slightly complicates fixing a flat

About Old Man Mountain

Old Man Mountain (OMM) is a small company based in the bikepacking paradise of Bend, Oregon. They make several models of bikepacking racks, all of which are known for their no-eyelets-needed mounting ability. If you want to attach a rack to a bike that isn’t designed for racks, you need to consider Old Man Mountain.

The brand began as an even smaller company in Santa Barbara, CA. In 2019 their long-time partner, Robert Axle Project, acquired Old Man Mountain and expanded their offerings. Both brands still operate independently and the Robert Axle Project still supplies the axles for the OMM thru axle Fit Kits.

Compatibility / Fit Kit System

The Old Man Mountain Divide rack works with standard rack mounts if your bike has them, and this will save you $60 – $80 since you won’t need a Fit Kit. The rack’s adjustable fit has a good chance of working with almost any eyelet position out there.

But the axle-mounted “Fit Kit” system is what really sets Old Man Mountain racks apart. By replacing your bike’s front or rear axle with a specially designed version from Robert Axle Project, you can mount OMM’s racks to nearly any bike without rack mounts. This works for both thru axles and QR skewers of pretty much any length, as shown on the extensive list of Fit Kit options. It even works for full-suspension mountain bikes.

To make this super clear, here are pictures of the rack mount eyelets / braze-ons typically used to mount a rack on a bike:

The OMM Divide rack can mount to those, but it can also mount to bikes that don’t have one or both of those mount points.

The thru axle Fit Kit option, which I’m using to mount the rack on my Chumba Stella Ti, works by replacing your axle with one that includes end caps with protruding… bits (not sure what to call them). The dropouts of the rack have hollow cylinders at the bottoms which snap over the protrusions on the axle end caps. The weight of the rack is supported mostly by the axle, not the frame.

My original rear thru axle (top) and the special thru axle from my OMM Fit Kit (bottom)
Closeup of the rack (black) snapped over the protrusion on the thru axle end cap (gray).

It’s worth noting that not all rack mounts and eyelets are created equal. While travel-focused bikes from the likes of Surly and Salsa are designed to carry a load for the long haul, a department store commuter bike may not be. You might choose to axle mount your Divide for extra reliability in that case, even if your bike has rack mounts.

To attach the rack to the seat stays if there are no eyelets, the Fit Kit includes “pucks” that attach with special zip ties and distribute load along a short section of the stays. This apparently works for any frame material, including carbon, but I didn’t think twice about putting it on my titanium frame.

For what it’s worth, this seatpost clamp could be an alternative to the puck system. I don’t know what OMM would say about this, but I’ve used one successfully in the past to fit a different rack onto a bike where the seat stay eyelets didn’t quite line up with the rack struts.

Whether or not you use a Fit Kit or eyelets, the height of the deck can be adjusted by moving the dropouts. This allows the rack to fit a wide range of wheel and tire sizes while keeping the weight as low as possible.

Finally, the Old Man Mountain Divide can be either a front or rear rack! It comes with the hardware for either, though you’ll need a different Fit Kit if not using eyelets.

The Divide is a versatile cargo rack perfect for hauling larger loads on rugged bikepacking expeditions.

Installation

The process of installing my Divide rack went smoothly, but not quickly. Old Man Mountain has done an excellent job with their instructions, which are available online (written and video) and also come printed with the rack.

It is, however, a relatively complex rack to assemble and mount. You’ll need to choose the correct hardware from several included options, attach the adjustable dropouts, and (for Fit Kits) assemble the axle with proper spacers and attach the pucks and extenders. It all went smoothly thanks to the clear instructions, but it did take some time.

At first the rack seemed a little narrow for my Boost rear wheel, and I wondered how OMM can make a rack that supposedly fits everything from road bikes to mountain bikes. But it wasn’t too hard to pull the dropouts apart and snap them into place over the axle ends. I can imagine the design working fine for somewhat narrower hubs too.

The seat stay “pucks” seemed odd at first, but they work well. They mount with special extra-strong zip ties on top of protective frame tape (included). I fully expected them to slip and settle once I loaded the rack and rode miles of rough gravel, but they never moved a millimeter. The only downside: when switching back to my seat bag I had to cut the zip ties, and eventually I’ll need to get more if I keep switching back and forth.

Closeup up the extender attached to a puck on my seat stay.

Weight

Out of the box, the first thing I noticed about the Divide rack was how sturdy it felt. Every part of the rack and hardware feels thick and strong and trustworthy. It’s clearly designed to go the distance over rough and rugged terrain.

Unfortunately, all this sturdiness adds weight despite the rack’s aluminum construction. The rack and hardware needed to attach it to my bike (including pucks and excluding unused bits intended for other configurations) weighs 980 grams on my scale, plus the Fit Kit axle is 70g heavier than my original axle. That’s a total of 1050 additional grams (2.3 pounds).

For comparison, my old Tubus Logo rack – which I mount to my touring bike with eyelets – adds only 763 grams to my bike. That’s almost two thirds of a pound lighter.

On the other hand, the steel Surly rear rack might be a more appropriate comparison with its burly construction and 80 pound weight limit. It weighs 1260 grams, which is about 0.45 pounds more than the Divide. So the Divide isn’t the lightest rack around, but it’s not the heaviest either.

I mention all this because people generally have two reasons for wanting to bikepack with a rack. 1) They need to carry more gear and supplies than bikepacking bags can fit, or 2) They carry a minimalist load but ride a small frame or full-suspension and need a seat bag alternative.

If you’re in category 1 and planning to load up the Divide with panniers, water, tent, etc. I think the extra weight isn’t an issue. A rack that can take some knocks is worth a bit of extra weight, and it’s a small amount compared to your gear. The Divide rack really shines as a bikepacking rack for those who need more gear capacity than a standard soft bag setup.

However, if you’re looking for a seat bag alternative to carry more minimalist gear because you don’t have enough bag-to-tire clearance, the Divide probably isn’t the best choice for you. Consider a lighter alternative like the PNW Bindle or Tailfin AeroPack, or Old Man Mountain’s more minimalist Elkhorn model.

I chose the Divide because my monthlong international trip required more cargo space than my bikepacking bag setup could hold.

Design

Rack design might seem like a subtle factor, but a thoughtfully designed rack really does make a difference in day-to-day bikepacking life. The Old Man Mountain Divide has a few nice features that I appreciated in Central Asia:

  • Low pannier rail keeps weight lower for better handling, and makes it easier to lash gear to the top deck.
  • Adjustable dropouts allow for moving the deck as low as possible, again keeping weight lower.
  • Solid top deck with slots is great for lashing gear to, even awkwardly shaped or saggy items. I used a couple Voile straps to attach my sleeping pad and extra food when my panniers were too full.
The solid flat deck makes it easy to strap some extra gear on top, even if it’s a little saggy or awkwardly shaped.

Just one gripe about the design of the Divide rack and my specific setup: the horizontal bars below the pannier rails (where the extenders attach) made it harder to attach and detach my REI Link Panniers. These panniers use a Velcro attachment system that’s rattle-free and break-proof – perfect for rugged bikepacking – but not the easiest to get on and off for motel stays or tricky bike portages. That said, the panniers fit the rack really well once installed, which is the most important part.

Sometimes we had to remove panniers from racks and use a little teamwork to get across rivers in Kyrgyzstan.

It’s also worth noting that if you use the axle mounted system, you’ll need to unmount the rack from the axle in order to remove the wheel. This was never an issue during my trip, even while flying with my bike. But if you’re removing a front wheel for transport or fixing a flat by the side of the road, it’s an extra step.

Load Capacity

The Old Man Mountain Divide has a max load rating of 55 pounds when eyelet mounted, and a generous 70 pounds when axle mounted. Though I wouldn’t recommend getting anywhere near that limit – it puts your bike under extra strain and isn’t very fun to ride – folks with expedition-scale gear needs will appreciate knowing their rack isn’t the weakest link.

There are other racks with similarly high load capacity – the Surly rear rack claims 80 pounds – but your bike better have bombproof eyelets to mount it to. The axle-mounted system used by the Divide is supposedly more robust.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are some lighter options with smaller load capacities. If you don’t need to carry over 20 pounds you might look into OMM’s Elkhorn model or a seatpost mounted rack.

My axle-mounted Divide easily carried a moderate load – two 18 liter panniers filled with gear and food – in stable and sturdy fashion over rough terrain.

Durability

The Divide rack certainly feels sturdy and reliable, but I can also vouch for it based on over 900 rugged miles of bikepacking in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This rack endured rocky 4×4 tracks, washboarded gravel, gnarly hike-a-bikes, and messy portages across rivers. Through all this it carried a moderate load in two 18 liter REI Co-op Link Panniers.

I was nervous about the puck mounts especially – would they stay put on my seat stays? We didn’t have time to do an overnight test of this new system before jetting off to Central Asia, so we crossed our fingers and said a prayer to the bikepacking gods. (Note: I do not recommend this! Always test your gear setup before a long trip. Don’t follow my bad example.)

Thankfully, the rack and puck mounts performed flawlessly. I don’t think they moved a single millimeter during the entire trip. No bolt loosened, no attachment point slipped. The entire thing stayed rock-solid for the entire monthlong adventure. We needed to solve a number of problems in Central Asia, but I’m happy to say none of them involved my Divide rack.

The Divide rack survived some pretty rugged terrain in Kyrgyzstan

Cost

Though my gear options have expanded over the years, I began bikepacking on a small budget and I’m always mindful of cost. The Divide rack’s total cost of $246 — $168 for the rack plus $78 for the Fit Kit — was on the high side for me.

I justified the purchase by telling myself a) I didn’t really have any other good options for putting a sturdy bikepacking rack on my bike that lacks eyelets, and b) such a versatile rack could be used on my other bikes or my husband’s for years to come. You might think of the Divide as a “forever rack” – likely to still be in good shape and compatible with whatever bike and bags you’re using ten years from now.

It’s worth noting that the Fit Kits are a significant part of the expense, and you’ll probably need a different one for each bike you want to use the Divide with. I thought about adding a QR skewer Fit Kit to my order so I can also mount my Divide rack on my older Salsa Fargo, but at $62 I decided to wait until I have a definite need for it.

Divide Fat and Divide USA

If 29×3″ tires aren’t enough rubber for you, the Old Man Mountain Divide also comes in a fat version that clears up to 26×5” or 27.5×4.6” tires.

The standard Divide is made in Taiwan. For those who want to support local manufacturing, Old Man Mountain sells “made in the USA” versions of the Divide and Divide Fat. These are made in California by Channing Hammond, the company’s founder, and cost $60 more.

Other Options

Without Eyelets

If your bike frame lacks eyelets for a rack, I’m not aware of any other options that let you carry as much weight as reliably and with as much versatility as the Old Man Mountain Divide rack. Ok, there are some suspicious clamp-mounted options on Amazon (like this one) that cost $40 and claim a 200 pound capacity, but I’m personally not going to trust that on a big ride in the backcountry.

The Tailfin AeroPack is worth discussing, especially the alloy version with pannier mounts which is probably OMM’s primary competitor. It’s quite expensive, especially the carbon version, but it does save quite a bit of weight over the Divide. The alloy version is a little lighter than the Divide, but not by much. They have a version with pannier mounts that can carry up to 60 pounds with a thru axle mount system similar to OMM’s.

Personally, I don’t like that the Tailfin rack is so focused on integrating with their specially designed bags. It’s a nice system if you go all-in, but every part is expensive and the full system would really add up. I prefer to keep my options open. For example, the pannier mounts on the Tailfin only work with their specially designed panniers, which cost $145 each. I wanted to use the REI Co-op Link Panniers for this trip because of their $80 price tag and soft attachment system, and they would not have attached to the Tailfin rack. The OMM Divide, by contrast, uses a very standard rack design that should be compatible with any panniers.

If your bike lacks eyelets and you’re looking for a minimalist rack solution, the Divide might be a little much. Consider OMM’s Elkhorn rack, the PNW Bindle, or the no-pannier version of the Tailfin AeroPack.

With Eyelets

If your bike has eyelets and you don’t plan to carry more than 50 lbs, you might look into the Tubus Logo EVO. I’ve ridden quite a bit of rough gravel with my Tubus on my Long Haul Trucker and have found it light yet strong and durable. My husband – whose bike has eyelets – took my old Tubus on our Central Asia trip alongside my Divide and found it up to the challenge.

Even if your bike does have eyelets and you therefore have plenty of options, a case can still be made for the Divide as a solid and versatile rack. If you buy the Divide and want to someday use it with a different bike or swap it from front to rear, you can be sure it’s adjustable enough to fit. And if that bike lacks eyelets, you can buy a Fit Kit and keep using the Divide for less than the price of another eyelet-free solution.

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa. I’ve traveled over 15,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more or say hi.

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