Arundel Dave-O Carbon Fiber Bottle Cage
We're probably not the only ones that were long stuck in ancient history when it came to water bottle cages. For the longest time we were surprised when a cage cost more than $9.99. So a cage that costs almost five times more had us shaking our heads. Welcome to the 21st century: Times have changed and cages have improved by a lot.
At first, we balked at the idea of an expensive cage. Cages are supposed to be more-or-less disposable. They break from use. They break in crashes. They break when you ride with a lead-filled water bottle. No reason to spend on something that can get easily wrecked. Especially if it works no better than something a fraction of the price.
Our last set of metal cages was King Cage's stainless steel model. We didn't want to spring for the titanium version, which seemed excessive at the time. The stainless cages worked great. For a while. Even when new, they occasionally ejected a large-capacity bottle. And after a while, we were cold-setting (a.k.a. bending with our hands) the cages to grip the bottles better. Two eventually broke, but not after ejecting bottles in critical races. In retrospect, probably should have gone with the Ti-. The silvery metal residue left on bottles was none too pretty, but livable.
We moved on to Specialized's Rib Cage Pro. Sleek look, simple design. Lighter than the King Cages by about ten grams and only marginally more expensive. No bottle ever got ejected, but occasionally one would slip down from the seat tube-mounted cage onto the downtube. We'd have to pull it back into place. The slipping issue was eventually solved by a new frame built with cage bosses in slightly different positions, which resulted in the seat tube-mounted bottle prevented from slipping by the downtube-mounted bottle.
The reality of losing bottles when we need it to happen least is what got us thinking of going for the Arundel Dave-O's. The most basic consideration is that if they last twice as long as cages that cost half as much or four times as long as cages that cost a quarter as much, then there really is no extra cost. But we were interested in greater security. Carrying two large-capacity bottles on rough roads with confidence is something we crave. Knowing that our bottles won't eject even when racing over the roughest pavement makes the redundancy we'd been building in to some of our races irrelevant; we had started carrying a third bottle in a pocket in case we lost one early in a long race.
A friend has been riding with the Arundels for four years, and says he has yet to break one and he's never lost a bottle. The directeur sportif of the Navigators Cycling Team told us that the Dave-O's were the only cages his team has used on the pave of Flanders that has never ejected a bottle. While Navigators is currently sponsored by Arundel, never losing a bottle in Flanders is definitely an impressive feat. And another friend recently crashed with the cages on his bike. The bike and rider did some quality somersaulting. The bottles stayed on the bike; the friend broke his collarbone.
With this, we were ready for the Arundel Dave-O's. We got the shiny black with the carbon pattern, the 3k weave model. Black goes with most everything, and it went fine with our bike. We weighed the cages, and both came out to 21g, with 4g for the stainless cage bolts. We wonder about the new scale we just put in use, as the people at Arundel say the cages should weigh between 28 and 31g.
We treated the cages just like metal cages. Screwed down the bolts until snug, put in bottles, and started riding. We worried about over-torquing on the carbon, but Arundel tells us that the torque spec we should worry about is the one the frame manufacturer has for the bottle cage bolts.
Arundel is named for a castle in England. It was built as security to protect the island from another Norman invasion. While the name came to the cages by happenstance, it is a great metaphor. The cages are also great security. The first tug of an empty bottle from the cage seemed hard, but with a full bottle and a familiarity with the hold these cages had made pulling bottles out, and pushing bottles in real easy. And we quickly forgot about what we saw as limitations with other cages. We readily put in large-capacity bottles without fearing they'd bounce out.
There was only one hitch with the cages. Nearing the end of a 110-mile road race, we suddenly had trouble pulling out a bottle. It was a bottle we had only recently picked up. Maybe the spec was different. We put the bottle back and tried again. Same problem. It took a little while, but we eventually realized that the bottle, which was filled with some sugar/electrolyte fluid, had leaked down the sides of the bottle, and since the cage possessed greater surface area than cages we were used to, the fluid left a sticky residue on both cage and bottle and thus created our little problem.
Recently, we did a long point-to-point road race in hot conditions and the only feed was over halfway through the race. The roads were rough and unpredictable and there were several railroad crossings to deal with. We did two large-capacity bottles and hoped we'd be sipping carefully enough. 15 miles in we encountered a set of tracks that had broken pavement on either side. Made the jump, and landed poorly. The large bottle on top was ejected. Angered, we looked around the peloton to see if anyone else had the Arundels and lost a bottle. We were the only ones.
A hot weekend is coming up. Having enough fluid will certainly be an issue. We'll gladly weigh the bike down with two large-capacity bottles because we know they're staying with us. Short bottles might be pro, but dehydrating in the middle of nowhere is not.