08 February 2010

bikefix Exclusive Review: Arundel Sport bottle cage

Despite it being the paper clip of the cycling world (simple, cheap & effective), it seems that there are no shortage of companies who are willing to rethink the humble bottle cage. Last year, I named Arundel's Dave-O bottle cage a bikefix Pick for being reasonably priced, light and effective. Still, not everyone is willing to spend carbon fiber money on bottle cages- or is fond of the now-ubiquitous carbon look. For them, Arundel have released a colorful line of molded Nylon reinforced plastic Sport cages.

Like the Dave-O, the Sport cage uses a pair of hollowed-out wings to firmly hold even large bottles. The combination of the stiffly-sprung wings and a good-sized tab at the bottle's neck provides positive feedback when a bottle pops into place. Two sets of mounting holes allow the bottle to accommodate different frames- though the continuous base means that spacers will be needed to straddle front dérailleur clamps. The material is matte in appearance- the surface of the white cages I purchased for Ms. Bikefix most resemble Lik-a-Stix or Smarties candies or asprin tablets.

In use, the Arundel certainly delivers on its hang tag's promise of "cheap insurance." Giardia concerns aside, it feels solid enough that I would have no qualms about using one under the downtube of a mountain bike (being relatively inexpensive at $15, it won't cause too many tears when bashed against a log). From the outset, I suspected that the finely textured surface would attract (and hold) dirt and greasy fingerprints more than a glossier finish. The problem does exist- but after eight months, the Sport cage doesn't nearly look as filthy as I'd expected. What I didn't expect was that the fine (and possibly mildly abrasive) texture would remove the printing from water bottles, leaving the inside of the cage blackened where it contacts bottles. It's either that or the wear of the bottle against the cage causes some sort of oxidization or grinds road grime into the cage. It's not a big deal and neat freaks can take comfort in the fact that the discoloration does come away easily with some isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel.

Arundel's Sport bottle cage is functionally excellent. At 52g, it's about 20g heavier than carbon fiber alternatives, but it feels more secure than most metal cages I've used lately. Being plastic, it won't cause unsightly the black oxidization on bottles that aluminum cages do (but it may wear the logos off of them). The biggest downside that I can see is that the colors that I've seen (black, white, blue, red, and yellow) are a bit off and more fastidious riders may have a hard time matching them to other components. It's more obvious in photos than in person, but if its looks work for you, the cage certainly will too.



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