If you’re still looking for ways to equip your bike for epic backcountry expeditions, Old Man Mountain might have the right solution: the Divide luggage rack. According to the American boutique brand, with the Divide rack you can set off into the wilderness with your luggage, whether or not your bike frame has rack mounts! After putting the Divide rack through the wringer, we can tell you whether the people at Old Man Mountain are promising too much.
While most retrofit MTB pannier racks are generally approved for up to 25kg, the Old Man Mountain Divide handles a whopping 31.75kg . But how does it do it? Old Man Mountain’s proprietary “Fit Kit” axle mounts allow you to secure the rack directly to the thru-axle, while two pannier rails ensure additional stability. The system can be used both at the front and rear and doesn’t require mounting points on the frame, making the system compatible with most types of bike. However, the Old Man Mountain Divide can be installed on frames with rack mounts too. While the second option doesn’t require the proprietary axle mounts, it only allows for a maximum payload of 25kg. But be careful, just because the luggage rack is approved for these weights doesn’t mean that your bike is! First and foremost, the additional pannier rails are attached to the seat stays, where a higher payload might cause damage to your frame. Very few bikes are approved for retrofit pannier racks, meaning that damages caused by the additional weight might not be covered by the manufacturer’s standard warranty.
The Divide Rack luggage rack is available in two versions, front and rear, allowing you to simply add a second rack to a bike that already has a standard rear pannier rack. The Old Man Mountain Divide rack in this test fits tires up to 29×3.0”. However, Old Man Mountain also offer a fat bike-specific version called Divide Fat. The height of the rack can be adjusted in 6 positions via the dropout axle mounts, thus allowing you to adapt the rack height to the wheel size. At the same time, the height adjustment allows you to increase tire clearance, for example if you want to squeeze a mudguard between the wheel and the rack. The pannier rail sits low, ensuring a low centre of gravity and thus a safer ride. The 6061 alloy deck has several slots for lashing on gear and holes for mounting a light. The Old Man Mountain Divide carrier tips the scales at 1006 g and retails for € 139.90. If you want to secure the racks on the thru-axle, you’ll have to fork out an additional € 89.90 for the Fit Kits. Old Man Mountain suggest installing a Fit Kit on each of your bikes and using the same pannier rack on the one you’re currently using. However, the axle mounts aren’t exactly cheap and take some time to install, which makes it a rather expensive and laborious solution.
The installation is rather fiddly and requires time and patience, especially the first time. First off, you’ll have to use the Fit Kit finder on Old Man Mountain’s website to find the right axle for your bike. When you install the axle mounts, you’ll have to play around with the supplied spacers until you nail the desired installation width. Assembling the rack itself is also more complicated than necessary. The instructions could use a few more pictures and more detailed intermediate steps. Unfortunately, the installation video on the webpage isn’t helpful either, flying through the installation steps far too quickly and without going into details. On top of that, most bolts are secured with a nut, which is incredibly annoying! That being said, the Divide Rack gives the impression of high build quality. If you’re into heavy-duty outdoor looks, you’ll love this rack! Old Man Mountain have also thought of smaller details, including robust, high quality zip ties as well as protective tape for the contact areas where the rack rests on the frame.
While riding, the low attachment points ensure a low centre of gravity, preventing the bike from tilting over too easily. That being said, you should be careful when riding with panniers, because the bags hang low, making it easy to hit obstacles. If you load the deck carrier with heavy items, like a bunch of fire logs, the bike tends to tip over quickly. If you’re still determined to use the full 31.75 kg payload despite our warnings, please be careful! On one hand, too much additional weight can affect the handling of the bike, especially when cornering and braking and, on the other, the excess weight might damage the frame. Since the pannier racks are rather short, they didn’t get in our way when pedalling. We recommend using the Old Man Mountain Divide Rack with micro panniers like Ortlieb’s Gravel Pack, which ensure even more freedom of movement and limit the amount of weight you can carry. If you’re planning on getting rowdy with the rack installed, you’ll be pleased to hear that we were able to use the full suspension travel on our Specialized Levo, the bike we tested the Divide Rack on. Having fun on the trail is possible, even with luggage!
When it comes to transporting plenty of weight on your bike, the Old Man Mountain Divide rack sets new standards – provided you want to put your bike through the stress. If you survive the installation process without a nervous breakdown, you’ll have a flexible, adaptable and high-quality pannier rack that fits on a wide range of bikes. If the Divide Rack also suits your budget, bolt it to your bike and head off into the wild!
- allows you to use a luggage rack with any bike
- excellent build quality
- proprietary Fit Kits allow for more payload than conventional pannier racks
- finicky installation and vague instructions
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Words: Felix Rauch Photos: Mike Hunger