03 February 2008

bikefix Exclusive Review: Tacx Tao Carbon bottle cage

There is simply no way on earth that this could be a rational purchase. None. Coming in at somewhere between $80 and $100 apiece, these are some spendy bottle holders. Acquired as part of Project Part Shuffle, our Tao Carbon bottle cages are the carbon fiber evolution of Tacx's already light (39g) Tao aluminum cages. The Tao ($20) is, to me at least, a very aesthetically pleasing part. A diamond-shaped piece of aluminum is wrapped around the bottle and joined at the tips and is elegant for its use of material and full embrace of the bottle. The change from aluminum to carbon fiber ribs saves 10g per cage and, of course, looks sexy as all get-out. Now, 10g is not a lot of weight. In fact, it's about two hundredths of one pound. Granted the Tao Carbon comes with a very nice Tacx Source water bottle, but still, who needs another bottle. From another perspective, though, Tacx have shaved 25% from the weight of an already light part, which is impressive- shame it has to cost $3,000/lb to do it. For reference, Zipp and Arundel make carbon cages that weigh in at under 40g and cost about half as much.

Of course, this would all be moot if they didn't work. They do, though I have a couple of gripes. First, the shape doesn't really have any spring in it to grab the bottle the way many cages do- the bottle slides in and is kept in place largely by gravity. Because there is nowhere to go but up, it largely stays put, but there can be some vibrational buzzing as a result. At least the aluminum version can be squished a bit to squeeze the bottle better. Also, the bottle sits well off the frame tube. This is nice if you have a band-clamp front derailleur between the seat tube bosses, but otherwise it makes the bottle seem to stand a bit too proud. Also, while it is available in both a black and white/silver carbon weave, the black is matte, and won't match many shiny frames well (Arundel's Dave-O is available in matte and gloss black as well as white carbon- acknowledging the real reason people buy carbon cages- because they look cool). The rubber on the cage's mouth and ribs ensure that the bottle never contacts the carbon itself, something I haven't seen in any other cage. Not being aluminum, they also won't leave unsightly oxide marks on your bottles.

All in all, a good product, but entirely impossible to justify. That's not what it's about, though, is it? As functional bike jewelry goes, one could do far worse. I'll be keeping 'em.



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