Remember that really sexy Raleigh I rebuilt for commuting? Well it doesn’t have eyelets on the down tube for a water bottle cage. Whether this is because it’s too old, or because it was a bottle of the barrel bike in the early 80’s I don’t know. But the fact remains the frame has no mounts for bottle cages. This becomes a problem when you’re riding daily in Houston, Texas, and at 7:30am it’s already 78 degrees out. Today I rode home in a 105 degree heat index. So, yeah, water bottles.
I toyed with the idea of using various clamping systems to simply clamp the bottle cage to the down tube – as there seem to be a fair amount of options in this department. There are also some incredibly horrible looking versions that I wouldn’t be caught dead with on my bike – especially an old steel steed like this. See what I mean, here…take your pick. Ugh.
There are some decent clamping systems out there though, and if I hadn’t purchased the item I am writing this review for, I would have gone with these clamps pictured to the left from Velo-Orange. The hitch is, you’ve got to have a bottle cage that has tabs on the mounting plate so the clamps have something to, you know, clamp down on. I considered this but decided I didn’t want to scratch my kick ass 1984 paint job. I had no evidence to support the idea it would scratch the paint, but I wasn’t going to risk it.
Another alternative is the obnoxious handlebar mounted cage holder. They look terrible, and frankly would be in the way. Convenient I suppose, yes. You often see triathletes or racers with bottles and straws strapped to their aero bars so they can grab a sip without getting out of their aerodynamic position. Me – I’m just riding to and from work. Anyway, aside from not having a blank spot on my bullhorns where there isn’t any bar tape, I think it looks hideous so we’ll just leave it at that.
So I settled on a behind the saddle option. There aren’t many options out there. The ones you see around mostly are these, from Profile Design. The only problem is the contraption is absurdly expensive. I don’t see why. Either way I wasn’t dropping $40-70 on a thing that holds water in a place that’s already inconvenient to get to.
I came across the Tacx mount, and thought I’d give it a try since the price was much more reasonable. Here is the picture you’ll see on Tacx’s website as well as on Amazon (where I got it from). As you can see they’ve got it outfitted with a nice carbon-fiber bottle cage – which is extra of course. In fact the picture is very misleading because the bottle cage itself is what the eyes are drawn to first – not the actual mount. The good thing it the mount will receive pretty much any type of bottle cage – since they are all pretty much a standard size. But still, it looks pretty simple and low profile; an advantage this had over the Profile Design as well – it’s not big and bulky.
NOTE: Pay special attention to the assembly instructions because there is a tricky piece that you need to put in the center of the pivot elbow and it’s not exactly clear. Also, best to go get some eyelet screws from your LBS because it doesn’t come with enough for mounting multiple bottles.
So here are some pics from my assembly of the Tacx behind the saddle bottle cage mount, and some notes to go with them. It’s a bit quirky and also has a few flaws, but overall it’s working alright. Read on…
The clamping system seems a little flimsy and cumbersome all at once. The metal plate on the inside is curved/shaped to align with the rails on the underside of your saddle – but it didn’t on mine. It was…close…(using the word liberally), but it didn’t clamp perfectly so I had to rely on tightening it enough so the pressure held it in place. Now on the flip side is the problem with that need – the other plate is just plastic – as you can see in the above picture. I was fairly nervous about tightening the screws enough to clamp it down because plastic breaks easily enough. Thankfully – so far, so good.
You can see the pivot point sticking out behind the saddle. This is what the next piece of the arm attaches too so it pivots up and down.
This is the next piece. And it’s a bitch. Before you attach this piece to the other, you’ve got to attach the cages. It doesn’t say that in the directions though, naturally. If you don’t do it first, you can’t get any tools up on the underside of the saddle to help attach the cage and it’s just infuriating. I also took this picture specifically to show the square washers that fit into the square holes at each of the screw points. These were also infuriating. Because they are so small and just plop into the hole, you have to hold them down with something tiny while screwing the screw from the other side – otherwise it just flops about and you’ll never get it threaded. These are also the only points of attachment for the cages so make sure you tighten them enough.
Notice there are three holes for mounting. That’s because the mount can hold a single, or two bottles. In the pic I just have the one, but after taking these photos I attached two completely different cages – as you’ll see below eventually. To attach a single, just put the screws in the center. To attach two simultaneously, use the two outer sets of holes.
I had just the one cage attached for a few days but didn’t like the way it looked – also I needed two cages anyway. So, here’s the result:
Looked much better.
So now here it is with my commuting water bottles, and fully ready bike heading out in the morning.
Overall I’m happy with it however there is one major flaw (aside from those damn square washers). Tightening the pivot point has proved to be somewhat hard. It operates on a gear-like system, where a little nub will seat itself between two bars to set it in place. It’s easily changeable so you can pivot the cages to the angle you desire. However, because the plastic gear-like system is pretty flimsy it just doesn’t stay. I started with my bottles angled upwards as you see in the picture above, and by the time I had gone over a handful of bumps in the road, they were angled down almost all the way they could flop. No matter how many times you lift them back they just flop right back down again. I’m going to try to tighten the screw some more, but I’m wary or it’s ability to hold given the cheapness of the overall mechanism. Of course, having two bottles worth of water weight probably has something to do with it – but still it’s not functioning as it’s designed too.
It takes some getting used to reaching around behind to grab a bottle while riding. Be careful or you’ll go down or swerve into something stationary. Grabbing it out is usually OK – it’s getting it back in that’s a problem. I’m getting better and can do it now while riding.
So there you have it. The Tacx behind the saddle bottle holder. A moderately priced alternative to normal bottle cages, or a decent add-on if you need more water for a longer tour.
Next up is a review of the rack you see in the pics: the Blackburn TRX-1 Ultimate Touring Rack.
Get out there, and ride!