Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review: A Carrier For All Occasions

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Cass tests the Old Man Mountain Divide Rack in both its Taiwanese-made and MUSA forms. Read on for his full review after using it for over a year in several iterations: as a front rack, a rear rack, direct mounted to the frame, with the optional thru-axle kit, and hauling everything from panniers stuffed with gear to a dog in a milk crate…

I’ve used Old Man Mountain racks over a number of years and on all manner of setups. Most memorably, I ran a Sherpa on my Surly Pugsley fat bike. It was tasked with hauling two small Carradice Super C panniers on a tour across South America 10 years ago and I still have it – any gear that survived that trip scored a special place in my heart.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
My trusty Surly classic Pugsley in 2013, fitted with an Old Man Mountain Sherpa.

I was especially grateful for the Sherpa because at the time, it was the only non-custom rack that played well with the Pugsley’s unconventional frame design. Thanks to the option of speccing the Sherpa with offset ‘feet’, it worked perfectly with the Surly’s endearingly quirky offset rear triangle. The rack saw duties across high mountains and on rough roads in a variety of conditions. It never missed a beat, only requiring its nuts and bolts to be snugged up on occasion.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
A burly Jones LWB HD/e with a MUSA Divide at the back and a regular Divide up front. Panniers are by Tailfin – 10L Minis at the front and 22L Ultradurables at the back, with a rollbag lashed to the deck using Austere Manufacturing cam utility straps, and a Wizard Works Framebagracadabra!

It’s in this ability to fit almost any bike, however unconventional it may be, that Old Man Mountain’s racks have always excelled. The same rack can be run on the front or the rear of a bike, with or without rack eyelets, due to a range of hardware, axle adaptors, and accessories designed to accommodate differing tyre widths, wheel diameters, dropout spacing, and geometries.

The Sherpa has now been discontinued and replaced with the all-new Divide, which I’ve run on a number of bikes with a range of tyre sizes, from 27.5 x 2.8″ to 29 x 3.25″. Note that if you’re a fat bike rider, there’s a separate fat bike version of the Divide for wheels up to 26 x 5″ or 27.5 x 4.8, so almost everyone is catered for.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack
  • cratepacking dogpacking
  • cratepacking dogpacking
  • cratepacking dogpacking
cratepacking dogpacking
  • Cratepacking
  • cratepacking dogpacking
  • cratepacking dogpacking
The Taiwanese-made Divide with the standard hardware kit that’s supplied, fitted to both the front and the rear of a Jones SWB. If you’re running a crate, additional straps are really useful for triangulating the setup and stabilising the load, especially if it’s one that’s prone wiggling!

Like its predecessor, the Divide comes complete with a full complement of mounting hardware – including short stays and long stays – depending on whether you’re mounting it to the frame or fork, and the geometry of the bike in question. As pictured above, it also uses adjustable extenders that allow it to be tailored to the height required – depending on wheel size and rack placement. For the most part, I’ve run mine a little above the tyre to balance stability with mud clearance, but you can always run them higher if you need to clear fenders too.

All these parts do require some initial setup time as you’ll need to familiarise yourself with how they all work and fine-tune the Divide’s position, as with most non-custom racks. But once you figured it all out, I actually found the Divide’s large and chunky extenders and use of stout M6 bolts made it easier than some for subsequent changes. The Divide also comes included with two sets of stays and all the hardware you’ll need for mounting it to almost any frame or fork with eyelets – nuts, bolts, washers, and spacers that nest in the Divide’s ‘sockets’ are conveniently labeled in bags to help decipher what goes where. Despite all these various parts, the rack still feels very rigid in use – it’s only likely to be compromised if you run its stays at their longer extensions with heavy panniers.

  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
To help accomodate this large crate and 18kg of Huesos, I fitted the MUSA-made Divide. Its longer length offers more support, while the additional thru-axle mounting points help with the substantial load, and also pushes the position of the rack back a bit, which in my case meant more room between the crate and my back. A plywood board under the crate and bolted to the rack, would be useful too.

I also tried the rear thru-axle made by the Robert Axle Project, one of a number of solutions for bikes without sturdy rack mounts on its seatstays. In my case, I did this because these dedicated thru-axles also come into play if you want to really load up the Divide. By placing the brunt of the weight on the axle, weight capacity is upped from an already generous 25kg (55lb) to a cargo-like 31.75kg (70lbs) – a rating that applies to both on- and off-road use. Whilst I’m not sure I’d advise running the rack’s full potential payload for roughstuff bikepacking, it’s good to know you’re covered, and it certainly gave me additional peace of mind when I had my 18-kilogram dog sitting behind me. Placing the load directly above the axle prevents your bike’s frame and fork eyelets, or rack bosses, from being overly stressed and potentially shearing off. Granted, it’s an unlikely scenario on a bike frame designed for touring, but I’ve seen enough failures in the past on more conventional frames to know this can happen, especially if the eyelets are intended for fenders rather than racks. The downside to this, however, is that it complicates wheel removal, as you’ll need to remove the bolts that attach the rack to your thru-axle first.

  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
In these images, you can see the extended deck of the MUSA Divide, along with slots for lashing gear, and eyes drilled for light mounts. I added electrical tape to protect the finish and reduce wear on the rack.

The keen-eyed will have noticed by now that there are actually two racks featured in these photos. Both are called the Divide, but one is made in Taiwan and costs $168 and the other in California, USA, and will set you back $228. Price tags aside, there are some notable differences between the two.

I asked OMM for a backstory on this overlap and I was happy to hear what I was told: “Channing Hammond started Old Man Mountain in 1996. All of the racks were made by him in Santa Barbara. The brand has always been focused on fitting expedition-worthy racks to any bike, whether it had eyelets or not. In the 90s, this meant via Quick Release skewers. When thru-axles became more prominent, he came across the Robert Axle Project. Our BOB trailer axles were perfect for mounting a rack, and Old Man Mountain became our first OEM customer. After many years of working together, Chris and Katy (the owners of Robert Axle Project) talked to Channing about buying OMM from him. They saw a greater need for the racks than Channing could produce by making them himself. Chris and Katy bought OMM in 2019, set out a more user-friendly Fit Kit system, and set up production for the first large batches of racks from Taiwan, still built to the same standards. With Robert Axle Project being a Made in USA brand, and us being friends with Channing, we wanted to keep working with him and keep offering a Made in USA version of the racks. They are essentially the same rack, the only difference is that the deck is a little longer on the MUSA version, and the embossing on the deck is different. That, and you get to know the name of the person who made it.”

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review

MUSA or Tailwan-made, you choose

Although described on the Old Man Mountain website as largely the same, the top deck of the Made in the USA Divide is actually 60mm (2.4 inches) longer. This addition proved useful in my case, as initially I attached a large crate for my dog to sit in after he outgrew his first one (you can read about my early experiments here).

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
The regular Divide (dusty) and the MUSA Divide (new). The latter is longer, though the weights are almost identical. Both include the same hardware and choice of stays, depending on whether you’re fitting them to the front or the rear of the bike.

Other than that – and price apart – the racks are very similar. They both use the 10mm tubing that’s compatible with most pannier brands, and the exact same hardware too. The diagram below shows how the top decks differ in size and shape, along with those of the fat bike versions. Interestingly, the MUSA Divide and the Taiwanese are almost the exact same weight despite these differences – 730 and 708 grams, respectively, for the bare rack, or around 960g with all hardware and extenders.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review

Hurly Burly

As for construction, the main deck is made from 6063 welded aluminium and tough, 13mm diameter tubing – with a separate pannier rail that’s 10mm in diameter. Not only does this lower the centre of gravity of the load you’re carrying, it also facilitates access to any additional gear you strap to the deck, which is wide enough to be really useful. And, because this deck is a solid one, it doubles up as both a bag support and as a mudguard, protecting said gear from crud. In some ways, this added practicality helps offset the Divide’s greater weight compared to simpler, more minimal, tubular rack designs.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
An older Old Man Mountain rack on Yeshe Park’s gorgeous klunker-hardtail Mone, which uses the thru-axle adaptor in lieu of rack mounts.

In addition, there are a number of slots through which you can run Voile-style straps, along with holes drilled for an optional rear light mount, or potentially for a dynamo light if you’re running the rack up front. The finish is good too – powder coated a matte black that’s held up well – and the rack has a lifetime warranty. Mounting hardware is stainless steel and quality is similarly high – nuts have nyloc to help prevent them from backing out, for instance. Still, it’s best to give them a once-over before and during any trip, and I’m a fan of Forager’s little Link Wrench for this, as seen below, as it’s perfectly proportioned to fit into awkward spaces.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
A ratchet tool, like this one from Topeak, and Forager Cycles’ Link Wrench make quick work of fitting and adjusting the Divide once you’ve figured out how all the parts go together.

Ultimate Compatibility

As mentioned, Old Man Mountain Divide racks include the basic hardware kit for attaching them to almost any bike frame or fork that features rack bosses or eyelets. But if your trusty steed is bereft of such utility, fear not, because there are a number of ‘Fit Kits’ that should ensure compatibility across almost all bikes imaginable. What’s more, Old Man Mountain’s Fit Kit Finder is especially nifty and helps sift through a dizzying range of thru-axles, QR skewers, hardware kits, seatpost mounts, and extenders – and I expect the company will also do its best to help out if your needs aren’t covered by their website. Their FAQ page is also worth checking out, as there’s some useful info to be found, including compatability with older Surly frames.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review

Running suspension? There’s also a kit designed to attach the rack to a suspension fork, using zip ties and a puck. In the distant past, I’ve set up one of my hardtails in a similar way and it worked well for a roughstuff tour – I ran a Thorn Catalyst with a Sherpa rack on a coil sprung Fox Vanilla, carrying a couple of small Ortlieb panniers. However, given the advent of convenient fork clamps, cargo cages, and smaller bikepacking bags, I now prefer to keep unsprung weight as light as possible (see this guide for ideas) to optimise the way the suspension performs. Still, the option is there if you want or need the additional capacity, and I’m sure it will appeal to some.

Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review

Lastly, Old Man Mountain also offers a range of compatible bags, including custom, US-made North Street Micro Panniers and Revelate’s tried and tested lightweight Nano Panniers. Given the rainy season here, I’ve run my Tailfin Mini Panniers as they’re fully waterproof and fit very securely, with nary a rattle off-road, wrapping the Divide’s tubing with electrical tape to protect the finish.

Pros

  • Compatible with almost any bike with or without rack eyelets, thanks to a modular design and a vast range of Fit Kits
  • Lots of options to fine tune the rack’s position, be it fore and aft, or up and down
  • Fat and plus-size options, right up to 29+
  • The same rack can be swapped between the front or rear
  • Substantial load ratings, even off road (25 to 32kg/55 to 70lb)
  • Very solid under load
  • Two versions for different price points and place of manufacturing preferences
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Excellent support

Cons

  • Takes some time to figure out all the hardware options initially (but then it’s a lot easier)
  • Heavier and bulkier than some racks
  • Costly (though quality and durability justify the investment)
  • If you run the optional thru-axle, it slows down wheel removal
  • Models tested: Old Man Mountain Divide and Divide MUSA
  • Weight: 960/968g (2.1/2.13lb)
  • Place of Manufacture: Taiwan or USA
  • Price: $168/228 at OldManMountain.com
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review
  • Old Man Mountain Divide Rack Review

Wrap Up

If you’re looking for a rack that’s compatible with almost any bike, right up to the diameter and width of 29+ wheels, it’s hard to better the Old Man Mountain Divide – and I applaud all the options OMM offers to facilitate this versatility, especially given the confusing ‘standards’ in the bike world.

Looks-wise, it’s certainly on the chunky side, and in terms of weight, there are lighter, sleeker options out there that are better suited to lower payloads or narrower tyre widths. In their place, the Divide promises durability and versatility, and it should last you a lifetime – especially with its included guarantee. Over the months I’ve been running mine, both versions of the Divide have proved themselves amply capable of hefting everything from a 18kg dog in a crate to all the gear you could possibly need for a fully loaded tour… or even just a massive shop in your local market. Whether you choose the Divide MUSA or the Divide Taiwan will likely boil down to whether you harbour a preference for US-made products, though it’s worth noting that the longer deck of the former does make it a potentially better contender for supporting large crates and baskets.

And, if you’re wondering if the new Divide can still accomodate the quirky needs of a dear old Pugsley, rest assured that it can. Although this option doesn’t appear within their website’s drop-down options, OMM can supply two driveside rack extenders, offsetting the rack to be in line with the wheel. This neatly circles back around to what makes this rack, and the people who run the business behind it, rather special. I get the distinct impression that whatever your needs and whatever your setup – however conventional or peculiar it may be – Old Man Mountain will do their best to find a solution that works for you.

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