Thursday, February 29, 2024

Review: Old Man Mountain Axle Pack: The Riding

 NOTE: Old Man Mountain sent over the Axle Pack kit, a fit kit, and through axle from the Robert Axle Project to Guitar Ted Productions for test and review. I am not being bribed, nor paid for this review and I always strive to give my honest thoughts and opinions throughout.

The Old Man Mountain Axle Pack was mounted a while back and with this wild and weird Winter I was off the bike it was installed on until recently. Hit this LINK for a look at the install, or read on further for my take on how the Axle Pack works with my riding and how I carry stuff. 

I chose the Noble Bikes GX5 carbon gravel racer as my test bike because it has no provisions for cargo or bottle cages on the fork. The Axle Pack allows me to carry a water bottle or a cargo cage on the fork now. I chose one of each. Why not?! 

For the riding test, I was curious as to whether or not the weight on the fork would adversely affect the handling of this light carbon gravel bike. I also purposefully used the different loads to see how an imbalance there might affect the handling. Finally, the question abut the front wheel removal with this rack on there needed to be answered, and I'll get to that in this review as well.

Rides were completed on various surfaces and terrain. I almost always kept a full load in both racks but I did also leave the cargo cage empty and used a full water bottle on one side as well. This will be a mid-term look at the Axle Pack and a final review will appear later this Spring. With that, let's get to the good stuff.

The Axle Pack is, first and foremost, essentially like having a fork built with Three-Pack bosses. At least functionally as you ride, it feels that way. You'd never know without looking that you have an add-on accessory rack. Bottle cages and cargo racks attach seamlessly, and even loaded the Axle Pack is rock-solid and steady on the bike. 

In terms of handling uneven loads and the effect of loads on the bike's handling, I saw no real issues there either. Yes, you will notice a little more inertia to steering inputs, but you most likely will adapt to this easily, as I did. After a few miles, it seems all normal. 

I did a steep descent with a need for very precise, controlled braking and also did not notice any detrimental effects to handling. Overall, this cargo carrier caused me no grief at all. Obviously, if you put a heavy enough load on the Axle Pack, it would begin to degrade handling, but most folks, hopefully, will have better sense than to put very heavy things on a fork that most likely was not rated to carry such a load. 

And furthermore; most racing gravel bikes don't make for great bikepacking bikes, but with Old Man Mountain's products, I suppose you could turn your race-rocket into an adventure bike of sorts if the need arose. 

The Axle Pack can be installed on many different bikes, obviously, but from a gravel riding standpoint, if we are limiting this to gravel bikes, the Axle Pack does come in handy for those events with long enough distances that you might require more water than your bike would normally carry, or gear that would make an over-night stay easier. 

There is one thing that is a bit of an annoyance with the Axle Pack and that is if you want to, or when you need to, remove the front wheel. Since the Axle Pack relies on the through axle, in this case, to attach the rails, you have to go through a couple more steps to get the wheel out. 

Remove three bolts to get a wheel out vs one.

There are the two attaching bolts that require a 4mm hex wrench and then you can get at the 6mm through axle bolt's hex pocket to remove the through axle and then the wheel comes out. You have to push aside the rails of the Axle Pack while doing this, and this also is another good reason not to put heavy cargo on the Axle Pack, unless you are okay with removing that cargo first. 

But besides this, there are no real negatives to using the Axle Pack that I have experienced. The wheel removal thing is a compromise for making your bike more versatile. I think it is worth the trade-off. 

Now as for temporary use of the Axle Pack, it may become a bit of a hassle if you go through a lot of those special Panduit cable ties because they are not cheap. Old Man Mountain does sell spares, so you always have those available, but this may be a hindrance to using the Axle Pack on and off for special occasions. My tendency would be to just leave it on there for extended periods of time, but not everyone will think like I do about this.

So Far... I think the Axle Pack is a well thought-out design that can make a bike without fork mounts a more versatile machine. Handling seems to be minimally affected in my case with the Axle Pack attached and with loads on it the stability of my bike was not adversely affected. 

There are a couple of compromises to the Axle Pack. Wheel removal being one. The special cable ties that are a bit hard to go through due to their expense, hindering, perhaps, off-and-on usage of the Axle Pack being the other. However; these are minor compromises in light of how effective the Axle Pack is and looking at how versatile this can make a bike. 

See the webpage for the Axle Pack HERE

Next up: A Long-Term Review.

1 comment:

FarleyBob said...

I have been looking at a solution like this for my new fatbike (Revel Big Iron) that came with an Enve Fork. I think the BarYak Mule might be a better solution for me as I would use it mainly for winter ultras. I don't like the extra steps required if I need to remove the front wheel in snowy conditions. For gravel applications this looks very solid! Thanks for the review!