Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Review: One Rack Fits All?
Released last month, the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn is a cleverly designed and highly versatile rack that can be mounted to the front or rear of nearly any bike. We had a chance to try one out on several bikes for this review…
Headquartered in Bend, Oregon, Old Man Mountain has been in the rack game for a while now—26 years, to be exact. But, as you may have noticed, they’ve been making some waves by releasing a few new and improved products over the last couple of years. That’s not a coincidence. Chris Kratsch and Katie Bryce—founders of Robert Axle Project—took ownership of the company in 2019 and seem to be laser-focused on products fit for bikepacking. The Elkhorn is the latest in Old Man Mountain’s lineup. This fairly minimal and versatile rack is unlike anything we’ve seen. Its flippable design enables it to transform from a rear rack to a front rack, and it features more mounting options than most racks on the market. We had the chance to check one out, attach it to several bikes, and put our thoughts together. Read on for details and find Neil’s video review at the bottom of the post.
While many other popular racks are made of steel, the Elkhorn is constructed using Old Man Mountain’s signature welded aluminum construction, flat platform, and charcoal powder coated finish. The Elkhorn’s main structural components feature oversized 1/2″ (13mm) diameter 6061 aluminum tubing in three main pieces—the platform and two risers. It also includes two pairs of additional slotted flat stock struts for mounting to the front or rear and plenty of bolts and hardware. Similar to the Tumbleweed T-rack, the Elkhorn features three-pack mounts on each upright to mount a cargo cage, bag, or extra water bottles.
The Elkhorn comes in two sizes: Short and Tall. The Short measures 390mm from lower eyelet to platform and is designed for 27.5″ tires up to 3″ wide and 700c x 38mm tires. The Tall (430mm) is made for maximum mud clearance and bikes with 29″ tires up to 29 x 3.25″ wide. We opted for the short version as I knew that most of the bikes we’d test it on have higher mounting points on their stays and fork blades. Plus, I prefer having the rack platform fairly close to the tire. This helps keep the weight low and it’s a better aesthetic, to my eye.
The brilliant part of the Elkhorn is its versatility. It can mount to standard bosses or directly to the axle using the optional fit kits available for thru-axle or QR mounting. That with the two pairs of struts and “flippable” design make it about as universal as they come. The crux of this design are the four two-sided, hourglass-shaped rack bosses welded to the underside of the platform tubing. These are spaced so that when the uprights are bolted on the inside of the bosses, the rack is spaced for mounting to a 100 or 110mm wide fork. When the uprights are bolted on the outside of the platform, the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn is in rear rack mode, suited for rear ends ranging from classic 135mm dropouts all the way up to wider fatbike spacing. There are slight bends in the uprights and one pair of the bosses is canted (angled)—the rear pair when mounted to the front of the bike, and the front pair when mounted to the back. You have to pay attention to that when attaching the uprights.
The Elkhorn as a Rear Rack
I mounted the Elkhorn on the back of my Tumbleweed Stargazer. As mentioned, I used the “short” version of the Elkhorn, but since the Stargazer has rack mounts above the axle on the seat stays, it fit fine. As you can see in the photo below, it still had plenty of tire clearance, even with a 29 x 2.35″ tire. I’m pretty sure it would even have adequate mud clearance if it was mounted at the axle, but it would be tight. I wish we’d have gotten the optional Robert Axle mounting kit to try, but you can get a pretty good sense of how it would fit below.
When mounting the Elkhorn on bosses, you have to use the included “Eyelet Kit” with two barrel-shaped 19mm spacers that slide into the recesses on the lower mounting points. The bosses on the Stargazer measure about 190mm wide, so once you insert the spacers it adds about 15mm to the total width of the lower points on the rack, stretching them out to about 205mm. Old Man Mountain confirmed this was absolutely fine.
The main purpose of the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn is to have a bag strapped atop its platform and allow additional cargo or bottle cages on each upright. However, it could also serve as a saddlebag support, or just be a dropper post-friendly dry bag carrier. The deck measures 3.9″ x 10.5″ (100mm x 266mm) and includes slots for lashing gear down and holes for mounting a light. OMM even made their own bag for it in collaboration with North St. Bags—which you can see in Neil’s video at the bottom of the review. As a rear rack, it fills all those needs very well. And, you could theoretically attach mini-panniers, even though that’s not its intent.
The Elkhorn is rated for 25 pounds (11.34kg) of cargo, all told. I would never carry this much, personally, although I think it could handle it. It’s pretty sturdy; maybe not quite as rigid as the one-piece Tumbleweed T-rack, but stable enough. For the record, Neil thought it was as stiff as the T-Rack.
The Elkhorn as a Front Rack
With the uprights bolted on the inside of the platform’s hourglass-shaped bosses, the Elkhorn is in front rack mode and ready for forks with 100 or 110mm spacing. Generally speaking, it serves a similar purpose in the front as it does in the rear. It’s ideal as a top-opening bag support for propping up bags like the BXB Goldback. Or you could use it with OMM/North St.’s bag, strap some mini-panniers on the rails, or just lash extra gear onto the platform.
I actually think the Elkhorn is a little more elegant as a front rack. It works either way, but using the shorter struts simply seems neater. I can envision folks having pseudo-front-loading setups with two cargo cage bags and a rack top bag. Elegance aside, I think it might be a little more useful as a rear rack. For me, the ability to add extra bottles in the back is a big plus, particularly on water-starved routes like the Baja Divide. And while you could do this on the front, it would seem kind of unbalanced having two bottles on the fork and two more on the rack uprights. Still, it’s nice to see a rack that can go either way.
Lastly, the Elkhorn weighs about 638 grams with the front struts installed and just a couple dozen more with the rear struts. That’s a hair more than the 617 gram short Tumbleweed T-Rack, which also comes in two sizes: 355mm and 385mm. I honestly wish both racks were a little lighter. I would never use a rack like this to carry 25 pounds of gear, so I feel like it could be trimmed down a little bit. A 500-gram rack with this functionality would be perfect, in my opinion. But, gram-counting aside, it’s not bad considering the Elkhorn’s versatility and ability to mount at the axle.
- Load capacity: 25lbs (11.34kg)
- Claimed Weight: 660 grams
- Actual Weight (with front struts): 638 grams
- Height (axle to deck): Short 390mm, tall 430mm
- Place of Manufacture: Taiwan
- Warranty: Lifetime Warranty
- Price: $148 at OldManMountain.com
- Unique engineering makes the Elkhorn one of the most universal racks available
- Three-pack bosses make it perfect for carrying extra water or for use with a variable setup
- Flat platform acts as a fender
- I wish it was a little lighter
- Spacer adapters could be narrower (or it could include two sizes)
Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Review (video)
To wrap up this review, be sure to check out Neil’s “in-use” video for his thoughts after trying it on multiple bikes.
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