Old Man Mountain Elkhorn Rack $148
The first cargo rack I put on a bike was a rear Blackburn rack on my 1984 Trek touring bike. And yes—It was 1984. A couple of years before that Specialized Bikes released its first production mountain bike. Growing up a BMX bandit in the early 1980s, I knew a mountain bike was in my future. But penniless, jobless, (and clueless) right out of college, I wouldn’t realize that vision until 1990 when I bought a Bridgestone MB-3.
Why am I waxing nostalgic about old bikes from my childhood? Because they were versatile-do-anything-machines. Fender mounts and eyelets were design staples back then. As the industry evolved, those features were lost along the way. Clunky clamps replaced braze-ons if you wanted to attach anything to your bike. In 1996 Hammond Channing wanted to attach a rack to this new-fangled technology-the suspension fork. Old Man Mountain was born.
Back in 1984, I loved having a rack on my bike, but I never thought I’d be excited about putting one on a mountain bike until I saw the Old Man Mountain Divide cargo rack. Always eager to find new ways to travel with gear on my bike, I found myself cargo rack curious. I set my interest aside for a couple of years. Then came the Elkhorn. Lighter, smaller, and uber-versatile. Able to attach to the front or rear of your bike, the Elkhorn is a backcountry slayer. When offered a chance to test one I jumped.
Based in Bend, Oregon Old Man Mountain has a strong following due largely to its rack’s incredible strength and versatility. There’s an option to mount Old Man Mountain racks to every bike in my stable from road to fat. Few companies have that flexibility. Their secret sauce has two flavors. First comes their sister company The Robert Axle Project which allows you to use frame and fork-specific thru-axles for just about every bike and fork manufacturer on the market. My sample Elkhorn Rack came with front axles for Rockshox thru-axels and the Enve MTB fork. They generously sent additional sets for rear axles to fit my Esker Hayduke and Rowl.
Secret sauce number two is their special puck mounting system. No eyelets on your frame? No problem. Your rear axle kit will come with special “pucks” to attach to your frame’s seat stays utilizing their special Panduit 120lb zip-ties. I can mount the Elkhorn to the front or rear of my two mountain bikes, and if I so choose, I can order thru-axle kits for my gravel bikes as well so I can move the rack to meet any riding platform I want. That’s pretty rad.
- The Elkhorn comes in two sizes; Short and Tall.
- The Short is designed for 27.5 and 700c wheels. Fits tires up to 27.5 x 2.8″ or 700c x 50mm.
- The Tall is designed for maximum mud clearance and bikes with 29″ tires. Fits tires up to 29 x 3.25″.
- Front or rear mountable.
- Made from 6061 aluminum the racks are lightweight, stiff, and strong.
- The rack is made from 1/2″ (13mm) diameter tubing.
- The deck measures 3.9″ x 10.5″ (100 mm x 266 mm) The deck includes slots for easily lashing gear in place and holes for mounting a light.
- The Elkhorn comes standard, eyelet mounts ready with optional fit kits available for thru-axle or QR mounting.
- The Elkhorn has a load capacity of 25lbs/11.34kg.
- Rack weight (Short): 623 grams with 6″ extenders.
- Rack weight (Tall): 652 grams with 6″ extenders.
- Made in Taiwan.
- Lifetime warranty
Finding the right axle kit for your bike is a snap. Start your search at their website’s fit kit guide. Follow the drop-down menus and you should be able to select the correct kit for your bike’s front or rear axles in minutes. If that doesn’t work print off their axle-matching template, or give them a call. Tech support is great. Still rocking the Quick Release? No worries, Mate. They’ve got that covered, too.
I first chose to mount the Elkhorn on my Esker Hayduke’s Enve Boost MTB fork. Out of the box, your rack will require some assembly. I found their website and YouTube videos to be extremely helpful. I did hit the wall at one point with the extenders, but I was able to get a service tech on the phone quickly to talk me through the issue and I was dialed in proper. Turns out that because my bike was in my Park Tool stand tilting forward I was not level on the floor. Once I had the bike on level ground, I was good to go. Let that be a lesson, kids—make sure your bike is level when you finish the extender assembly. Once installed the rack’s frame cleared my 2.6 Vittoria Mezcal tire with plenty of room to spare. It looked great and was super stable. No rattles or vibrations whatsoever.
Seeing images of 12-packs of beer strapped to the Divide rack gave me confidence that the Elkhorn will stand up to anything I can throw at it. With a twenty-five-pound carry capacity, the Elkhorn can carry much more than anything I would carry. The question is, “How will a fully loaded front end handle?” For this review, I chose to set up an Esker Hayduke with an Enve MTB fork due largely to the existing eyelets on the fork. I mounted two King Manything cages to the rack’s eyelets loaded with 5L drybags. Attaching the King cages was a breeze utilizing the mounting hardware that came with the rack’s system. I considered adding a drybag to the rack’s platform but settled on strapping a Helinox ultra-light chair instead. (That turned out to be a great decision, by the way).
I loaded the drybags with my hammock setup including under/over blankets. The evenly loaded rack was a breeze to handle. I was impressed with how the bike handled even through loose sand and scree on the route.
The Final Word
I am a fan of the Old Man Mountain Elkhorn rack. So far this thing has been bulletproof. I’ve strapped 12-packs of beer, dry bags, and lightweight camp furniture on the top while maintaining an even load capacity with the Manything cages mounted to the side stay’s eyelets. The only issue I encountered is the Cane Creek Helm suspension fork’s proprietary thru-axle. OMM has no solution for that fork yet. Beyond that, I’m having a hard time finding anything I don’t like about this system. If you’re cargo rack curious like I was, I highly recommend the Elkhorn rack from Old Man Mountain.