Loud? No. Unstable? No. The perfect addition to a fast or slow bikepacking setup? Absolutely. The Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Rack and Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit transformed my race-ready Waheela C into a bikepacking steed perfect for a long, primarily gravel tour across Alaska.
What’s so special about a rear rack on a carbon bike?
Most carbon gravel bikes do not come with bosses for mounting racks or other hardware. Bosses (mounts along the seatpost and rear triangle of the bike) are necessary for attaching and distributing weight atop the front or rear tire. Many carbon, race, and non-touring specific bikes lack bosses and, consequently, the ability to use racks for panniers. While the Waheela C also lacks these bosses, the folks at Otso have engineered an elegant solution.
The Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit transforms the race-ready Waheela C into a long distance touring rig by enabling the use of a rear-mounted rack. The Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit uses the bike’s Tuning Chip system, an alloy seatpost clamp with rack mounts, and custom bracket adapters to create a solid connection between the rear dropout and a rack. Finally, despite being “mechanically declined,” I managed to install the rack in less than 10 minutes. (My dad did help me a little bit, but he’s a boat guy, not a bike guy.)
Why bikepack with panniers?
While soft bags (frame bags, seat bags, handlebar bags) are favored by many due to their low weight, simplicity, and ease of handling, panniers still deserve a place at the table when it comes to gravel touring. Some folks simply prefer panniers over soft bags as they don’t require stuffing important items into deep and unexplored crevasses of frame and seat bags. By using panniers, I was able to organize my food items by meal, keeping track of what was consumed and what remained. Oh, and I also always knew where the hot sauce was, which was a great relief at the end of a long day.
Alternatively, some folks prefer soft bags as they are a bit more aerodynamic and “handle” better, especially on rough or technical terrain. While our route was anything but technical, we did encounter ~430 miles of gravel along the Alaska Divide. The Waheela C Rack/Hardware Kit combo was absolutely up for the challenge – it never shifted, rattled, or made screeching noises that would attract grizzlies and other fine specimens. Considering how well the rack performed on rough gravel, I am eager to try it on a singletrack adventure. I think it would perform well so long as the trail was sufficiently wide.
The Alaska Divide Setup
Our anticipated 9-day food haul demanded more gear capacity than what I had with my existing Oveja Negra soft bag setup. I knew I couldn’t purchase any additional expensive gear, as the combination of flights to Prudhoe Bay, bear spray, food, and other items were already exceeding the budget of three graduate students. Thankfully, the folks at Otso made it possible to add just one item – a rear rack, so that I could use my existing panniers and soft bags. While panniers and a seatpost-mounted seat bag aren’t usually used together, those were what I had, so those were what I used. The resulting setup was a harmonious mash up of “bikepacking” and “bike touring” worlds.
Ultimately, I settled on the following setup: a Big Agnes FlyCreek UL2 tent, Oveja Negra handlebar bag (1 L capacity), two handlebar mounted Oveja Negra “chuck buckets,” (2 L total), two fork-mounted Revelate Designs bags with Salsa Anything Cages (7 L total), ½ pack Oveja Negra frame bag (3L), Oveja Negra snack pack (½ L), Oveja Negra Gearjammer seat bag (9 L), and the Ortlieb gravel pack panniers (25 L total). The panniers nearly doubled my carrying capacity, ensuring I could carry all of the calories and clothing to keep me warm above the Arctic Circle. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my crocs fit snugly in the space between the panniers and the seat bag. I think I may be onto something.
Is the Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit right for you?
After 20 days using the Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit, I can confidently recommend it under a variety of circumstances. Perhaps you prefer the simplicity of panniers – or you already have them from another setup. Perhaps you have a longer tour in mind and need more capacity than what soft bags alone can provide. Perhaps you like to go fast, but not so fast that you have to leave the cribbage board, hot sauce, and solar twinkle lights behind. Whatever the reason, the Waheela C Rack Hardware Kit adds even more versatility to the already beast-mode of a bike that is the Waheela C.