Category Archives: Bicycle Accessories

A blog about all types of bicycle accessories you’ll need for your next bike ride. Fenders, odometers, pedals, components, lights, racks, pumps, replacement gear, bags, and more.

Methods for Attaching Water Bottle Cages without screws and bosses

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Attaching addition water bottle cages to our bikes without screws or bosses  is something bicycle tourers do often. There is often a need to increase the bike’s water carrying ability in order to increase our biking range.   Cyclists also add water bottle cages to carry camping fuel and endurance gels/powders.  Since so many of us doing it, it is a bit of a surprise that there isn’t a ton of information on the methods of attaching extra water bottle cages to your touring bicycle.   It’s often difficult to find hardware for these upgrades as well.  We’ll take a look at some of the different options for adding water bottle cages once you’ve run out of cage bosses.   At the bottom of this post I’ll include some useful links that will further help you out in your next bicycle upgrade.

Remember, there’s always an option:

My Surly long haul trucker with surly nice racks and water cages

My Surly long haul trucker with surly nice racks and water cages

First we’ll look at some of the companies offering mounting cages for water bottles without bosses.

Minoura Advance Pro Goods (Japanese)

Profile Design (Numerous hydration solutions for cyclists)

Nashbar

Topeak (Huge range of cycling products, check out their Modula Cage XL, it holds 1.5 L bottles!)

Handlebar Water Bottle mounts

These additional water bottle cages are useful for those bicyclists who have extra space on their handlebars for some water bottle cages.  For me, I have limited space because of my cycling computer, topeak handlebar bag, and mirror.  The only really useful option for adding water bottle cages to my handlebars is a single bar-wrap type mount which I can place on the bar.  Below are some options for adding water bottles to your handlebars.

This is the Minoura Bottle Cage Holder BH-95x.  This is my recommendation for mounting a single bottle on your handlebar.  This product is inexpensive, effective, and respected.

Minoura Bottle Cage Holder BH-95X

Minoura also offers a couple of other models for mounting cages to your handlebars.  There is the BH-60 one-bottle model and the BH-2B

Minoura BH-2b waterbottle cage adapter

Minoura BH-2b waterbottle cage adapter

model which allows you to mount 2 water bottles to the center of your handlebar.  If you don’t have a handlebar bag up there, this would be a great bicycle upgrade.

Nashbar offers a simple handlebar mount for 25.4mm handlebars only.

Nashbar Handlebar Mounting Adapter

Nashbar Handlebar Mounting Adapter

This is the Electra Cup Holder and this is more of a novelty than anything else.  It is way too expensive and isn’t actually a water bottle holder, it is a tapered cup holder.  I just thought I’d put it on here in case anyone was looking for a way to hold a coffee cup on their bicycles.

Electra Cup Holder

Our next handlebar mounting option comes from Profile Design and is called the AeroDrink Bracket.  This is a cool mounting option for Century and Airstryke handlebars.  It fits other models with adapters.  This bracket basically spans the bar gap and connects to both ends.  It fits bars up to 120mm wide.  The interesting thing about this bracket is that is can glue or screw onto the bars.  Versatile and not that expensive at around 12 dollars.

Profile AeroDrink Bracket

Seatpost water bottle mounts

A aerodynamic option of water bottle mounting is available with seatpost mounted cages.  These cages mount on the rear part of either the seatpost or the saddle rails and usually hold two extra water bottles.

The Profile RM System 1 mounts to the rails of your saddle (seat) and connects two bottle cages behind your seat.  Make sure you have enough clearance from your loaded rack in the back to make this work.  This model is 15.00 more expensive than the Profile RM 2.

Profile Designs Saddle Rail Cage

Profile Designs Saddle Rail Cage

Profile RM System 2 is very similar to system 1 except this mounts to the actual seat post.    There are a couple of problems that may arise using this mount.  It could mount too close to your actual seat, block the bottles.  It could also not tilt upward enough and interfere with your load.  Not saying it happens all the time, but it can.

Profile Designs Seatpost water bottle cages

Profile Designs Seatpost water bottle cages

A nice company called Tacx also produces saddle clamp bottle cages.  This attachement hooks up and has 3 different positioning options for your cages.  You can do one in the middle, or two on the outer holes, whatever you choose.  Retails for around 15 dollars.

Tacx saddle water bottle cages

Tacx saddle water bottle cages

Minoura also offers to seat post models, a one-version, and a two-bottle version.  They have similar setups to the other cages so I’m not going to go into that now.  Here are photos of the two-bottle version.

Minoura seat post bracket

Minoura seat post bracket

Minoura seat post bottles

Minoura seat post bottles

Frame water bottle mounts

If you’ve run out of mounting bosses on your bike frame, your also probably running out of space.  My Surly Long Haul Trucker comes with three water-bottle mounting options on the frame, and with those filled, I have a little space on the top tube, the down tube, and the seat tube.  With this in mind, companies produce strap-on cages so we can mount more bottles on our frame in those hard-to-get to places.  Just remember that mounting cages is good not only for water, but is useful for carrying camping fuel and those heavy jugs of energy gel that proves very useful on bicycle tours.

Here are some options for mounting a water bottle cage without screws or bosses:

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps allow you to connect your water bottle cages just about anywhere on your bicycle.  They work up to a 50mm diameter and come with rubber pads to eliminate scratching.  They also come with tension-tightening screws which makes these a winner for you ultimate bicyclists taking your tour on road and off.

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

There is a German company called Rixen and Kaul that produces the KLICKfix water bottle cage adapters.  These are some serious looking adapters and coming from German (producers of Continental tires and Ortlieb Panniers), I’d trust their quality.  There are three models I deem useful:

BottleFix is a basic model that clamps on right to the bike.  It is adjustable with an allen key before mounting the bottle.  This model with work on handlebars, frames, seat posts, and anything else between 15mm-60mm.

Bottlefix water bottle mounting system

Bottlefix water bottle mounting system

Rixen and Kaul also offer the KLICKfix model, which is a quick-release version of the BottleFix.  You can connect any regular water bottle cage to the quick-release adapter and then clip that adapter into the mounting system.  Simply install and you can clip-in and out the cage.  I’m still not entirely sure what the advantage of this system.  I guess it simply allows you to completely take off the cage if you needed to for some reason.

KlickFix Water Bottle Adapter

KlickFix Water Bottle Adapter

Here is a link to the mounting instruction manual if you want to know more about the system.

Other water bottle mounting options

For mounting to random objects on your bicycle, there are a number of universal water bottle mounting adapters available.

Minoura offers the QB-90 model, seen here, for less than 10 dollars.

QB-90 Minoura Water bottle adapter

QB-90 Minoura Water bottle adapter

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps allow you to connect your water bottle cages just about anywhere on your bicycle.  They work up to a 50mm diameter and come with rubber pads to eliminate scratching.  They also come with tension-tightening screws which makes these a winner for you ultimate bicyclists taking your tour on road and off.

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

Elite VIP Bottle Cage Clamps

You could also try the following:

  • Wear a hydration pack (such as CamelBak).  These can lead to back strain, but may be necessary.  I use one.
  • Use a hip pack to hold your bottles.  These inhibit movement.
  • Carry water bags in your panniers.  I use Platypus brand and love them.  BPA free and inexpensive! They offer a number of models, some have drink valves, others are just roll-up bags that have caps on them.  I use the model shown below because I don’t need a drinking valve.  They offer a PlatyPreserve wine storage option as well, in case you need to preserve your fine wines along your tour.  Check them out here.
  • Platypus 1 Liter Water Bottle

You could also drill your own holes and install water bottle bosses.  We’ll get into that at a later date.  I’m sure there are many more options, but this is a good start.

Here are a good link with some other nifty ideas for products not so easy to find:

http://www.nordicgroup.us/cageboss/
If you’ve got the time, head over to the official website for the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger.

The Long Haul for Hunger Bicycle Tour

The Long Haul for Hunger Bicycle Tour

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Bianchi Valle Review for 2009

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I was searching around for some new touring bike models, looking for upgraded 2009 bicycles, and generally anything else I could get my hands on, and I stumbled across the Bianchi Valle.  Bianchi also offers their ‘specialized’ touring bike the Volpe, a pretty nice touring bike with good features and a mid-range price tag.  But when I looked through the specs for the two bikes, I found the Valle to be a decent option for shorter-range tours.  It offers the same frame as the Volpe, CroMo steel frame and fork, and also has braze-ons to mount fenders and racks.  Actually, the Valle comes with front and rear fenders.  Another interesting difference between the two bikes is the Valle’s power-generating front dynamo hub.  Both bikes have 32 spoke rims which aren’t going to be too reliable with extremely heavy loads, which is why this bike is a decent possibility for shorter tours or commuters.

Bianchi Valle

I don’t like the flat handlebars on the Valle, the drop bars on the Volpe are much more my style.  I prefer the drop bars with the bar-end shifters.  The short chainstay length of 425mm might cause a bit of a problem when loading racks and panniers on the rear of the bike, if you’ve had any experience with doing that on this bike let us know.  I know the Surly Nice Rack offers enough clearance for this frame size with a properly adjusted rear Ortlieb pannier, I checked the pannier/rack combo on a lot of different bikes before I bought my racks.

I think this bike is worth checking out if you are in the market for a commuter or a short haul bike.  It’s another bike to add to your comparison list before making the big purchase.

Don’t forget to visit http://www.theultimatetrek.com to learn more about the upcoming Long Haul for Hunger Bicycling Trek.  Over 8,500 miles across 2 continents.  We’re recruiting riders and would love to have you join for all or part of the ride.

Ortlieb Frontroller bicycle panniers review

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This is the first bicycle pannier review, there will be many more pannier review posts to come.

Why REI ads? Great customer service and great prices, really, I shop there!
REI.com

I apologize for the recent lack of updates, I’ve been busy preparing my new website, www.theultimatetrek.com, to go live.  It finally has, so now I’m back to the blog.  Have a look at the new website if you’ve got the time.

So let’s get started with out look at Ortlieb panniers.

Durability:

Price:

Weather:

Organization:

Compatibility:

Total:

.8

First up are the front panniers.  These panniers are typically smaller than rear panniers and are very important in effecting your bike’s handling.  You’re going to want to keep these panniers evenly loaded and low to the ground.  The lower the bag, the more stable the bike.  Don’t overload the front panniers or you might go head-over-bars on downhills.

Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers Ortlieb Front Roller Panniers


Let’s look at some specifics on the frontrollers from Ortlieb.  Obviously they are waterproof, and they are also well-made.  They measure 11.8 x 9.8 x 5.8 and can carry 1525.6 c inches combined.  That is about as much as a medium-sized backpacking pack.  The thing I like the most about the Ortlieb frontrollers, and the Ortliebs in general, is the mounting system.  It’s great.  Super easy to use, adjust, and replace if necessary.  I freaked out when I first went to install the panniers because the clips didn’t even come close to lining up with my Surly Nice Racks.  Upon further inspection I learned all about the great clip system. It’s very simple.

*  Clips are fully-adjustable left to right.  So this means you can make them wider or narrower depending on your rack.

*  Clips are quick-release.  Simply lift the cord and they come open, let it go and it closes.

*  Bottom clips move around to tightly secure the pannier to the rack and stop it from jiggling.

*  There are no ventilation options on these panniers, so do not keep wet things in here long.

Tubus Racks. A Review.

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REI.com

I think it is easy enough to search around for bike racks if you know their names, so we’re just going to introduce a large variety of models, their prices, quality, and load capacity. We’re also only going to look at the strongest and best designed (for touring) models each manufacturer offers. If you have reason to differ in opinion, feel free to let me know via comment. Choose your racks by yourself based on your own research or by our mini bike rating.


Tubus

Logo Rear Rack:

Width ? / Length ? (We’re working on this)

Weight: 25.7 ounces

Capacity: 40kgs or 88 pounds

Strength: Cro-Moly Steel

Est. Price: $120.00

Tubus Logo Rear Rack

Tubus Logo Rear Rack

10 year warranty.

Tubus Tara Front Rack:

Weight: 470 grams or 17 ounces

Capacity: 15kg or 35 pounds

Strength: Cro-Moly Steel

Est. Price: $90.00

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus racks are very well-known and respected in the bike touring community.  The two racks in this post are the most popular models made my Tubus.  The Tubus models are a little more expensive than the Jandd models we reviewed last week, but as you can see in the stat sheets, the weight of the Tubus racks in much less than the Jandd racks, and the carrying capacity is much higher.  You get what you pay for.  You will not be disappointed by these racks.  The front rack is famous for its ability to get the load low and help you maintain balance on your bike.

Eurasian Cycling Trek for World Hunger 09′

Surly Nice Racks.

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REI.com for Cycling

Surly Nice Racks (Front and Rear)

A look at the bike manufacturer’s brand pack racks.  http://www.surlybikes.com

It’s time to move onto racks.   Before we get into our full rack reviews (coming next), I’m going to spotlight my own, the Surly Nice Racks.  Don’t forget to stop by the bike ride page to learn more about my charity ride from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly Long Haul Trucker bike.  Donations and sponsors much appreciated!

Surly Nice Racks

Surly Nice Racks

Front Rack:

  • The Surly Nice Racks are made from Cro-moly steel for ease of repair.
  • Front rack is designed to be loaded high and low.  Low mounted racks provide more stability, and higher mounted racks provide clearance on rocky or bad roads.
  • Cargo rack on top for gear like your tent, stove, camera, etc. Extra storage!
  • Front rack mounts to mid-blade fork eyelets that is on the Long Haul Trucker and other touring bikes.  Mounting gear for bikes without this eyelet is included.

Rear Rack

  • Height-adjustable like the front rack
  • Lots of room
  • Numerous mounts for extra stability
  • Powder coated available in black and silver.

Disadvantages:

  • Not really compatible with disc brakes
  • The Surly Front racks tend to be more expensive (but they offer more storage options that competitors)

The average retail price for these racks are about $125.00.  I picked up both of my racks for 250,000 won in Korea, which is a little more than $250.00.  That price included installation.

If you are installing on your own, here’s the link to the instruction manual.

What makes them different?

  • The Surly Nice Racks allow you to load gear all over the bike.  A lot of other models of racks do not have front racks that allow top-loading.  The other manufacturers usually offer low-load racks that keep weight low.  These are use to ensure greater stability, but if you are on a seriously long ride, you need that extra space on top of the front wheel for storage.  Look at the comparison between the Tubus Tara and the Surly Nice Rack.  Granted, these are just some options.
Tubus Tara Front Rack

Tubus Tara Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

Surly Nice Front Rack

See how the Tubus Tara rack has a single bar over the top of the tire?  The Surly has a full rack which can hold lightweight goods (sleeping bag, mat, clothes) that won’t weigh down the front-end and effect steering, but will free up space on other areas of the bike.  Even if you don’t like the Surly racks, look for a rack with over-the-tire space if you are going on a long tour.

Find products with Free Shipping at REI

Have a look at the racks mounted to my Surly Long Haul Trucker!

Surly Front Rack Full

Surly Front Rack Full

Mid-fork Mounting Bracket

Mid-blade Mounting Bracket

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Front-fork Connection (with SKS Fender Mount)

Top view

Top view

If you want to read more about Surly gear, and my Surly Long Haul Trucker, head over to the My Bike
pages.

Types of Bicycle Pedals

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There are numerous options for bicycle owners when choosing bicycle pedals.  Not only are there a lot of brands to choose from, there are several different types of pedals to choose from.  We’re going to run through the basic pedal types here, and will follow up with brands and recommendations in the next post.

Before we begin, don’t forget to read about my journey from South Korea to Portugal on my Surly Long Haul Trucker.  Click on the green logo to the left to learn more.  Please support! Thanks.

Bicycle Pedal Types

Platform

Shimano Platform Pedals

Shimano Platform Pedals

Platform pedals are probably the type of pedal most bike riders had on their first bicycles.  They are big and flat, often with traction pins for added grip.  Often found on mountain bikes and BMX bikes, platform pedals are available in cheap plastic models and expensive lightweight materials.  You’ll find plastic models on cheaper bikes in the $0-$300 range.  A little higher up on the price/quality scale are are the plastic core/metal cage variety, which give you better traction and a little higher build quality.  Next up on the line are the all-metal platforms which are found on the higher-end bikes.  With higher prices comes higher grade materials and weight savings.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive models available (easy to replace)
  • Easy access (getting in and out)
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)
  • Less accident prone if you get into a wreck

Disadvantages:

  • Shin scrapes in wet weather (we’ve all done that)
  • Inefficiency.  You’re going to lose a lot of power on the up stroke because your not connected to the pedal.  I never used clipless pedals before but have recently changed over from platforms and am amazed at the speed increase I have.  It takes some time to get used to the up effort, but it’s all good.

Toe-clip

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip Pedals

Toe-clip pedals are the least favorite pedals of mine.  I haven’t had a lot of success with them, got them caught on a tree root once, broke a couple of buckles, and had some malfunctions.  They’re hard to keep adjusted just right, either too tight or too loose.

Advantages:

  • Increased pedaling efficiency
  • No need for special gear (cleated shoes)

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to get in and out of.  You have to loosen the straps to get out sometimes if you have the straps tightened for maximum efficiency.
  • Extra parts.  I’ve had a lot of problems with the straps getting torn, ripped, and frayed.  The buckle can malfunction, and if it does, the pedals are horrible to ride on.
  • Clipping danger.  There is a danger that you could catch the toe-clip on something and totally ruin your day.  I’ve done this before on a tree root and went right over the bars and down a ravine.
  • Too many parts.

Clipless

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Shimano Clipless Pedal

Clipless pedals are actually pedals with clips, so the name is a bit confusing. It actually refers to the lack of toe clips on the pedals.  Clipless pedals require special shoes with cleats in their soles that click into the pedals.  They keep the rider connected directly to the pedal and are used by a large number of riders.  There are what you’ll find on most touring bicycles.  I currently ride on clipless pedals and love them.  My avg. speed is up and I feel I have more control over the bike with them.

Advantages:

  • Superior pedaling efficiency
  • Clearance on turns (touring bikes have low bottom brackets, pedals can clip the ground on turns)
  • Inexpensive.
  • Simple, very few parts.
  • Easy clip-ins and clip-outs.

Disadvantages:

  • Requires special shoes.
  • Some models tend to get clogged up with mud.  Others, like egg beaters, don’t.

Bicycle Accessories. Gearing up your touring bike.

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We’re going to start a series of threads discussing all the accessories you can think of when it comes to touring bikes. We welcome comments if you’ve owned, seen, or use any of the accessories we mention. If you have other recommendations, post them in the comments.

Fenders

Civia Fenders

Civia Fender

Civia Fender

These fenders accommodate 700 x 35c tires. They are pricier than the Planet Bike and SKS models. They retail for about 70 US dollars.

Planet Bike Fenders

These are the least expensive of the three fenders we’ve looked at. They come in a wide-range of sizes and models and are quite reliable like the SKS fenders.  Most models, especially those in the hybrid/touring type like the Cascadia, come with mudflaps attached.  Nice value to be found here.  Generally quite high rated reviews on most of Planet Bike fenders, with common grievances being a slight lack of coverage.  They are said to be reliable, strong, and fairly light.  Most fenders are gonna require a little altering to fit your touring bike because of the racks and such, so don’t be scared away by reviews saying the owners had to do work to get them to fit.  You’ll find that with all models.

Planet Bike Fenders

Planet Bike Fenders