Thursday, June 21, 2012

Storing Water on a City Bike

Carradice Pocket, Klean Kanteen
Many city bikes are made without braze-ons for bottle cages on the frame. This is probably because they don't look right with roadbike-style bottle cages, and manufacturers expect that trips on these bikes will be short anyhow. But what about those of us with longer commutes, especially in the summer heat and humidity? While clamp-on bottle cages exist that can be fitted onto the frame without braze-ons, the shape of the frame can make attaching them challenging and unsightly. 

Royal H. Mixte, Downtube
With upright handlebars, it is also not exactly convenient to reach all the way down to the down tube or seat tube for the water bottle. Most seem to prefer alternative solutions. 

Pashley, Twined Water Bottles
DIY handlebar setups are popular, and above is the Co-Habitant's somewhat eccentric solution. He modified regular water bottle cages to clamp onto the bars and can have up to two water bottles at his fingertips as he rides. For him this setup works nicely, though others might find it cluttered - particularly on bikes with not a great deal of room in the "cockpit." 

Twined Cup Hoder
A more conventional solution is to install a coffee cup holder, the likes of which several manufacturers are producing now. From what I hear, the quality of these holders varies from one brand to another, and they do not fit all water bottles. But if you get one of the good ones and it does fit your bottle of choice, they can work great. 

Po Campo Pannier, Inner Compartments
Personally, I prefer to have as few items attached to my handlebars as possible and would rather carry water in my bag or basket. When I ride a full-sized city bike, I keep a bottle of water in my pannier and keep the pannier unzipped for easy access. When I get thirsty en route, I reach for the water when stopped at a red light, drink, then put the bottle back when done. I don't need to turn around in order to do this and kind of know where it is by feel. 

Carradice Pocket, Klean Kanteen
On the Brompton it is easier still, because the Carradice front bag has stiff rider-facing pockets that are the exact size of a small Klean Kanteen bottle. I can reach the bottle, drink from it, and put it back in the pocket without having to stop the bike. Of all the different ways I have carried water on a city bike, I think I prefer this front pocket option most of all. Not only is the water bottle close at hand, but I then easily can take it with me once off the bike without having to carry it in my hand. 

Do you feel the need to carry water when riding for transportation? Do you think city bikes should come with provisions for doing so? Please share any clever systems you've come up with as well. 

58 comments:

  1. Here are two rather clever cage-mount brackets:

    https://picasaweb.google.com/BERTIN753/BIKESMISCELLANEA#5756630946224023794

    Personally, I prefer to add a larger saddlebag into which I can fit two 28 oz bottles.

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  2. The best discussion of holders and some about containers as well that I have seen is at http://bicyclecoffeesystems.com/

    He also has a complementary lighting site that isn't bad.

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    1. This will solve your problem:

      www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0jbvvCF1HU

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  3. City bikes look fine w/water bottle cages if you're not beholden to some strange, old-school aesthetic. Braze ons add cost to the mfg, then people will go "but it's so expensive!" Yawn.

    Down tube "inconvenience" -- yeah, tying my shoes is irritating. I have to bend over and all.

    Mounting your liquids on your handlebars is a great way for it to influence steering unless, of course, your bike weighs 50 lbs.

    The bottle in front bag ATTACHED TO A FRAME-MOUNTED BAG ON A LOW TRAIL DESIGN is perfect and I HOPE YOU HAVE INCORPORATED BRAZE ONS FOR FRONT RACK OPTIONS ON YOUR LOW TRAIL PROJECTS.

    I carry liquids in a traditional cage on a "city bike", whatever that is. Weird, I know.

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    1. "City bikes look fine w/water bottle cages if you're not beholden to some strange, old-school aesthetic."

      Where would you put the braze-ons on a loop frame or mixte with swooping stays? Aesthetics aside, it is tricky to find a spot where a bottle would fit, especially on a small frame.

      Yes, there will be braze-ons for front racks on the low trail projects. Porteur rack for the mixte, smaller rack for the randonneur.

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    2. Swoopy tubes? You design a bike from ground up, compromises made. Eleganza? Tough luck bub, you can't have it all. Unless...

      Duh. It's called a seat tube. No one constricted the design to be on the dt. Look at your road bikes. Let's think outside the box.

      Thank God. Front stuff fear? Over it.

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    3. Let's forget elegance for a moment. Look at the seat tube on a loop frame or mixte bike, especially on a small frame. It is split in half by the spot where the ST and the loopy tube(s) connect. There is not enough room below it, so the only spot for the braze-ons would be above - underneath the saddle. As I understand, it is not generally considered a good idea to put a bottle cage that high. But even that aside, I am betting most women would find that location extremely inconvenient. Reaching between their legs to get water? While wearing a skirt?

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    4. But putting the weight up on on the handlebars on in a front basket is better? It's better to have the water closer to the center of the bike than the extremities and as low down as possible. I've mentioned this before.

      Like I said, you design a bike from ground up, not band aid stuff to it unless that is precisely what you are doing.

      If you're talking about a big billowy skirt that covers the entire frame like a parachute, of course that takes the whole frame out of the equation.

      Like I said, once you start adding more and more clothing requirements, or the rider starts complaining things are "inconvenient" or whatever, what's a bike designer to do? Just throw it in a shoulder bag or mount a front bag and go then.

      BTW plenty of women ride in skirts and can get a btl out of a traditional cage. Just work on it people. No one said this skill is handed out at birth.

      BTW II you mentioned stopping and drinking -- case in point. Ride and drink.

      Ok, since you've placed so many restrictions on this thing and haven't indicated if this is for a new frame or retrofit I'll play:

      New frame: braze ons are possible in a whole host of places. Seat tube, any curved part with the proper build up of material to mount a cage on a plane, drill a hole through the bridge between stays, etc. etc. Beyond this you can move to the ht or even the stem if it is tall enough, eventually to the h-bars.

      But to put this back into the "incovenient" realm, you put the bosses above the stays on the st. If you're wearing a parachute then stop and drink, as you're doing.

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    5. Yet ANOTHER solution (there are just so many when you throw out "it doesn't look right") is a seat mounted triathlete thing that goes where a seat bag might.

      Now don't start with the, "but I have a seat bag"...

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    6. Most modern road frames have two sets of bottle bosses, one on the ST. Yes, it's dicey or omitted on very small frames. Women ride those bikes and reach between their legs and this is the very first time I've ever seen that indelicate (?) operation remarked on. Women do it all the time and outside of theocratic regimes where women don't ride bikes anyway there's just no issue. Well, maybe the skirt thing could be inconvenient, I haven't personally tried that. No reason not to have the bottle there for the times you're not wearing a skirt.

      Loop frames with the loop tube mounted low have just as much room as if the bottle was merely clearing a front derailleur.

      On loop frames with high head tubes the top end of the loop tube is long enough and straight enough. Aesthetically atrocious but for a few hot weeks in summer maybe tolerable.

      I've mounted strap-on bottle cages on the seat tube of a good few mixtes and never had a complaint. Sometimes it fits and sometimes it doesn't.

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    7. Your btl up high comment -- it's a Center of Gravity discussion, remember we've had this a million times?

      You will never grasp fundamental design concepts if you do not understand this term.

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    8. Jim - Even a shorter, non-billowy skirt would get in the way of reaching for a water bottle attached to the upper part of the seat tube. Triathlete style bottle placement... Sure, but might as well have the bottle in the pannier then; similar reach.

      Anon - Sure, a water bottle could fit some specific loop frames and mixte frame as you describe. But not all, and in my experience not most.

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    9. If you keep changing the terms of what we're discussing, then I guess you always get to "win" the discussion.

      We were talking about frames, then you changed it to racks/panniers. Whatever.

      BTW it is, per usual, totally unclear what your motivation for this discussion is.

      Skirts are not made of lead -- move it!

      I can not believe I wasted my time in this mess.

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    10. The motivation was to discuss different possibilities for storing water on a city bike. Winning vs losing did not even enter my mind. You have your points; they are good points. Please keep it polite.

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    11. Ok, it's pretty clear you have no idea what I mean by triathlete wb thing because the reach is right under your ass and in no way, shape or form is that the same reach as a pannier. Can you get a bottle out of a pannier while moving? No. Can you get a bottle while racing a tri from the tri cage? Duh, that's what it's for. You should look up what one is before you say it's the "same reach".

      Follow the discussion -- it started out asking about different methods, then you asked about frames and where to put bosses on them, then...suddenly we're onto panniers. Like I said, you changed the terms of the discussion with an inaccurate analogy.

      Your motivation is to "discuss" this topic but is this the usual crowd-sourcing of info for design or consultant purposes, that's always the question.

      Anyway, I'm sure this will be forgotten along with all my other comments pretty quickly.

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    12. Well, I've been doing the research. Which means I've been looking at bikes. Which I do constantly anyway. I can locate the mixte frames that will not take a ST bottle. Can't locate the loop frame that won't. I've seen an unusually small Frasconi curve frame that would not. The overwhelming majority just not a problem.

      Two design considerations. 1) The center of gravity thing is not worth thinking about. A high bottle on the seattube is just about right at the bike plus rider center of gravity. Changes nothing. 2) Since a women's frame has no top tube to complicate the path of a bottle inandout of a cage the bottle can be quite high.

      The frames I have always found problematic are small "compact" diamond frames. Especially the ones with shaped tubes. Too bad. Ride steel. Then there are the cheapo frames where the top tube is almost like a top tube instead of a women's frame top tube. These are so unattractive I look the other way quickly and you would too.

      My resident skirt expert has demonstrated for me that she can get a ST mounted bottle while wearing a skirt. She conceded it could be hard for some riders and that different skirts could be different. Since she mostly only wears skirts for weddings or similarly special occasions extended testing did not occur.

      You'll find that if you use basic LBS short water bottles there's more room than if you try doing those stainless things with the huge caps. The plastic bottles also have a bit of give and do not have to be lined up and dropped straight in.

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  4. My main bike has a nice basket on the front so i just put water there. I don't normally carry water but on my long rides I usually have water and coffee in my basket. I wedge the water/thermos into the basket with my bag - although I did have the thermos eject when I hit a bad pothole once.

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  5. I live in Saint Louis where heat and humidity begin in April and end in October--or so it seems :) My commutes range between the daily 5-10 mile variety to a twice a week 50 mile excursion. For a five mile ride I'm good w/o carrying anything, for a ten mile ride I know of fountains along the way or I simply put a bottle in my panniers. For the 50 mile ride i've got a bottle in my cage and another in my pannier and stop to refill often. So, for most transportation I'm fine w/o carrying water mostly because I'm vigilant about staying hydrated everyday and don't over exert myself while going to the grocery store or any of my other daily errands...Touring is a different issue, though, I'll use all my braze-ons plus carry extra in bags!

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  6. Not clever, but it works fine.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/48459019@N06/6881790972/

    RJD

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  7. Water bottle cages can be attached anywhere and when one is thirsty and in need of ague it matters little whether their placement is unsightly or inconvenient. Just speaking from experience.

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  8. "When I ride a full-sized city bike, I keep a bottle of water in my pannier. ... If I get thirsty en route, I reach for the water when stopped at a red light, drink, then put the bottle back when done."

    Moi, aussi. As you know, last two days in Boston have been beastly in 90s. This time of year a single litre bottle in a pannier or seat bag gets me through (one to two stops) a 9 mi commute one way. For city riding there are ample opportunities simply to pull over in the shade or grab a bottle at a long light. The idea that you have to grab, gulp and return while riding is, to me, something that makes sense when racing or perhaps touring, but is a distraction in traffic.

    If I had a front basket that would be a good spot for a bottle, but I have no room and don't like the look anyway.

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  9. I put water in my bag and then in my basket. I just got the Kleen Kanteen vacuum insulated 20oz and it changed my LIFE!!!! It's a little pricey at 20-30 bucks online but it's worth it. It's totally stainless steel has a wide mouth and the cap is also stainless steel. I used to use old plastic water bottles but the smell was horrid after a couple of uses even with soap washing. Plus plastic bottles leech BPA. The kleen kanteen insulated allows you to put ice in the bottle and have it ice cold for like 16 hours. I rode today and it was 100 degrees but I still had ice in my kanteen. It works for hot drinks too. The best part about it is that it's super easy to clean with a bottle brush or you can just go to any public restroom and put soap in it and swish water in it and rinse and it doesn't smell. It's nigh indestructible. It seals tight and if you put a caribiner on the end it will stay locked upright in your basket. The trick to using the bottle is how to get water. Since I live in NY I can bike all over the city and go to any barnes and noble, chipotle, starbucks and subway and just fill it with ice and water for free. So I don't have to pay for drinks anymore, Just drink water in my kanteen. Totally changed my life.

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    1. I'm in love with my insulated Klean Kanteen, so I'd love a closer to the cockpit solution that works perfectly for it. It's worth every penny.

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  10. Unless I'm out in the sticks, I don't carry water. There are water fountains cafés, bistros, little markets, and coffeehouses all over LA. I ride hot ,& hilly 70-milers with no water bottle along, unless it's over 95°F.

    If I'm going out into remote areas--and believe it or not there are vast reaches of wildland around and even within the city limits--then I carry one or two water bottles, in cages, saddlebag, or panniers depending on bike, day, and mood.

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    1. Wow. Two days ago I did an 8 mile round trip commute at fairly tame speed in 96deg heat and high humidity. Two bottles of water consumed. I get especially thirsty when stopped at red lights, when the breeze I get from cycling is gone and the sun is hitting me directly. Sure there are cafes on the way, but stopping at them would dramatically prolong my travel time!

      Yesterday I did a club ride and then rode to and from the ride, for a total of 45 miles in 98deg heat and humidity. More than 5 bottles of water total consumed. I would have passed out otherwise.

      People really do have different tolerances when it comes to these things!

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    2. In hot weather you simply must begin hydrating the day before. 5 in 45 is not always possible. (Of course riding at all at 98 may seem impossible to many).

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  11. My city bike is diamond frame with braze ons, so cages work.

    Agree the traditional style King Cages at least did not look right with the rest of the components. So I opted for the Iribe cages from Compass Cycle. At first I was concerned about theft, but it appears few people are familiar with the cages.

    My Swift front rack Bag does have a strap that will secure a bottle as well. When I use this option I notice the bottles tend to stay clean longer as they are farther from all the dust and grime from the Chicago streets.

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    1. "At first I was concerned about theft...

      Yeah, I think unless you live in a dense collectors' area, you are safe with those cages : )

      Have you seen the leather bottle cage from Origin8?

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    2. "When I use this option I notice the bottles tend to stay clean longer as they are farther from all the dust and grime from the Chicago streets."

      Great point and that's one thing I left out! I definitely see this as a benefit to keeping a water bottle in a bag when possible. Drinking water contaminated with road grime/dust can't be good for us on a daily basis.

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    3. Did not know about the Origin8 until reading about it here! It appears to be a good design, as it should allow flexibility when choosing bottle diameter. Right good looking too.

      City streets are indeed repositories of all things gross. Double capped water bottles are a possible solution. I don't like them for city riding as it takes longer to get them open. Any distraction riding in the city can be pain.

      Finally, Rich R mentions public water fountains above. Sadly, Chicago has been slowly removing public fountains, and otherwise not keeping those that remain in good repair. Not sure how much it costs to clean up the blasted disposable plastic bottles littering the streets and sidewalks (many of which are filled with Great Lakes water, btw). Public fountains would seem to be a sustainable option.

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  12. The climate I'm from (central Texas) means that heat stroke can be a near-constant issue for about 6 months a year. Water is neIther optional, nor advised to be placed inconveniently, and should preferably be cold, insulated, and available in decent quantities. For long rides, I'll typically carry at least 2-3 bottles, and local wisdom dictates going through 1 per hour of riding, minimum. My touring bike has 2 waterbottle cages, on top of supplementation with restaurants, etc. For "athletic" rides, I bring my CamelBak.

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  13. randi jo fab's bartender bag is another solution for carrying a bottle up front, or even a camera.

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    1. That is so cool!

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    2. Also adjustable. I like it!

      So many swell things on Etsy.

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    3. Yikes that fits my Klean Kanteen or my Olympus?! Thank you so much for the link!

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  14. I started cycling last October and did not think about water over the winter. Now it's hot and humid I am CONSTANTLY thirsty. I do wish my Pashley Poppy came equipped for carrying at least one water bottle. I bought one of those cup holders for the handlebars you mention, but it broke after a week! Finally I had a front basket installed and keep a bottle of water in there. It rolls around, but it's better than nothing.

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    1. Re front baskets: One idea I had at some point, was to attach a loop of elastic cord to the inside that would keep the bottle upright. This could be done with both wicker and wire baskets - just tie both ends of the elastic to the basket, placing it low enough so that the bottom of the bottle reaches the bottom of the basket and can stand upright. This ought to make the bottle easy to remove and put back as well.

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    2. Sologne solved this one years ago with their fishing creel which is both a handlebar bag and a basket. There's a hole in the top lid sized for dropping in your fresh-caught panfish. That hole has a stylish leather trim ring and is also sized for bracing the neck of a bottle of wine. Or Pellegrino as you prefer. I am not making this up.

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    3. Ah of course! Although I know someone who has a basket like that on their bike (see here) and I believe she recently got a bar-mounted cup holder as well. Will have to ask about that.

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    4. That's a neat one. Look at www.vintagebicycle.wordpress.com/tag/sologne-fishing-creel

      And there were at least two. A large tall one and a smaller flatter one.

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  15. I put bottle cages on all my bikes, commuting and otherwise, but they're all diamond frames. If the frame doesn't have braze-ons you can use various methods of clamping or zip-tying cages on wherever you can fit them. For summer commuting though, I'm more inclined to put my water bottle into whatever bag I'm carrying because that way I'll have it with me when I get where I'm going. If it's in my cage, I'll forget to take it with me as often as not. If I'm riding around town and there's a bottle in the cage I'll drink from it, but if it's not there I don't miss it. Most of my trips for transportation are under 45 minutes and not strenuous.
    I like bags with a side pocket on the outside that fits a water bottle because I can get to it while I'm riding if I want but more importantly I have it when I get there instead of forgetting about it in the bottle cage.

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  16. Pellegrino, on a bike, during a ride!?! V you are my hero.

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  17. I never ride without water, winter included. My transport (of three years now) is the KHS T101, with slight mods but in terms of H2O I just use the two factory bottle cages on tubes. One straight water, the other with a little power junk in it if I am doing more than a regular commute.

    One of the biggest single errors the average person makes is not staying hydrated. Even non competitive, non aggressive, un-sportsy commuters need to stay hydrated.

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  18. Considering you say you've not been cycling that long I learn something on most visits here. I assumed the lack of braze ons on my Charge Mixer was down to design, not something common to city bikes. I used a zip tie cage onto the seat tube as it's easy to reach for me. Would having extra weight (bag, bottles etc) on the bars of an aggressive twitchy city bike affect the handling.

    I like the bars on your other half's bike, by the way, V. Might try something similar for a bit more style.

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  19. Er, I'm sort of failing to see the added convenience benefit of the co-habitant's handlebar setup when he's using bottles that require a two-handed twist-off top. Surely if he has to stop to take the top off the bottle, he could be bothered to reach the downtube.

    In any case, to each his/her own.

    Personally, I have never carried water specifically for transportation cycling. Sometimes I have a water bottle with me because I would want it at my destination, in which case I just throw it in my pannier. But I have an 8.5 mile commute each way, and even in the heat I have never felt like I could not possibly wait a few more minutes to get to my destination before drinking.

    I'm considering a coffee cup holder, though. When I first started seeing these I thought they were silly, then I faced the conundrum of wanting to stop for a beverage on the way to work and not having any way to carry it.

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    1. "sort of failing to see the added convenience benefit of the co-habitant's handlebar setup when he's using bottles that require a two-handed twist-off top"

      He can do it without stopping the bike. But even that aside, it still takes less time to drink water (for example when stopped at a red light) when it is in that location than elsewhere.

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    2. Handlebars seem to make the most sense for mounting water bottles or coffee cups on upright city bikes.

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  20. I'm just curious about the wrap on that bottle. I'm guessing DIY and I'd appreciate any info. Thanks.

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  21. For my commute (only short - 5 miles each way), I just throw a plastic bottle into the front basket. That way it's easy to reach if I get thirsty, although you do have to make sure it doesn't bounce out if you go over a pothole!

    On a longer ride, I'll just pop a bottle in my pannier. Boyfriend has just got a Camelbak-type thing that goes in a rucksack for longer rides, but frankly, I don't mind stopping for a minute if I need a drink. I'm on a leisure ride, not doing the Giro D'Italia!

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  22. Cage-clamp secured to the handlebars. Easy to use while riding,and I'm not going for the streamlined look on my cruiser.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrylasher/7354716784/sizes/c/in/photostream/

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  23. I find my range on my cargo bike is limited by my water capacity! I will normally take 5 or so litres, which go in the massive panniers, and the bottle in use goes on one of those road bike type bottle holders in the. Triangle.

    A good day will see 50 or so km pedaled about, which will use all the water! I guess this adds up to 10 litres per 100km - which some cars burn more than this amount in petrol!

    Sam,
    @samotage

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  24. I can see why the shellac wrap is done- the kleen kanteens (or similar metal bottles) vibrate violently in the VO cages. I love the look of steel on steel, but it is so noisy.

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  25. I have a ANT Truss bike with no cage and I go through this every time its hot or long ride, the best so far is a small backpack.

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  26. Commuting (which is strictly NYC city riding) I use a padded fabric water bottle sleeve that I have attached to the shoulder strap of a large Chrome backpack. I think it is adapted from a hiking setup. Very accessible while riding or stopped at lights, and always comes with me when the bike is locked on the street.

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  27. I don't bother carrying water when I'm biking for transportation. I drink a lot of water, but I can wait until my destination.

    I have a coffee holder, which is useful if I buy some coffee on the road and need to carry it back to my office, but it spills a lot.

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  28. In the photo with the coffee cup holder, what is being used to pad the handlebar? I bought an identical holder, but haven't figured out how to pass it in such a way that the coffee cup holder doesn't slip while being used.

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