what we all regard as a bicycle is, in truth, simply a collection of bits and bobs that comprise a bicycle shaped object, each component part playing its individual part in this marvellous agglomeration. certain of those components play a greater part in the grand scheme of things than others, some being necessary evils, others occasionally wearing the surplus to requirements badge depending on the intended purpose of the velocipede in question.
for instance, most of us would be hard pushed to live without a seatpost for reasons that your posterior would be quick to point out if you ever tried. similarly, handlebars make it a darned sight easier to get round corners than steering by willpower alone. you'd know this if you'd ever tried it. the list could be perceived as somewhat limitless, but as demonstrated by bicycle couriers and sir chris hoys the world over, a set of electronic gears is something that can well be lived without. alejandro valverde, however, may be inclined to disagree.
but there are fairly obvious add-ons that, should you be remiss in adding them on, would be unlikely to seriously curtail any pelotonic ventures you may care to undertake. handlebar tape, for instance, may enhance one's comfort just a smidgeon, but the bike will still ride well without. mudguards are perhaps an easy target, for who amongst us would deny that those pinarello dogmas, colnago c59s and trek madones would look a trifle less sleek were fabian, tommy and brad forced to protect not only their own footwear and bums, but the oakleys of the inseguitori. the reasoning is surely that, if they can live without, we can too.
i think i could also produce a fairly convincing argument that the humble bottle cage is also a component surplus to essential requirements. but in so doing, this might possibly be an argument with precious little to back it up. inside the last twenty kilometres of any uci sanctioned event, riders are prevented from taking drink or food from a team car, a fact that might be extrapolated and inverted to suggest that surely these selfsame riders could simply garner liquid sustenance from the team cars alone during the preceding racing kilometres instead of carrying their own. it doesn't seem outside the realms of possibility that twenty kilometres is a short enough distance to survive without a quick slurp of sugary water.
this is, as occasionally mentioned before, my bete noir, for i am utterly crap at taking a swig from my bottle when out for a ride of any distance up to and including the 65 kilometre mark. it is a serious failing i am sure, yet it seems not to have had any seriously adverse effect on my cycling performance. however, before someone else has need of pointing it out, it may well be necessary to display some demonstrable performance in the first place.
however, on a ride that may well soon be duplicated to some degree in the near future, i managed to seriously underestimate the amount of liquid consumption that would keep me travelling at my meagre average speed over a 200 kilometre distance. i almost never ride with two bottle cages affixed to either the cielo or colnago, mostly due to the aforementioned propensity not to drink when i should be so doing. but in such an instance, at least one bottle cage on either bike can be viewed as a necessity rather than an optional extra.
since i would think it unlikely that i am the only one who eventually finds himself with a desperate need to slurp, thus rendering the humble bottle cage ultimately necessitous, you do have to wonder why no-one has previously thought it an object worthy of more specific attention. creatively artistic attention at that. over the years, many a bottle cage has passed through thewashingmachinepost bike shed: stainless steel, flake titanium, anodised aluminium and resin masquerading as carbon. with the possible exception of the latter, they have all fulfilled the shape and form you'd expect to find in a bottle cage; well-crafted but rarely little more than utilitarian in design and appearance.
until now, that is.
constituted in the city of portland, oregon a mere five years ago, portland design works has shown a design pragmatism in their cycle offerings to date that suggests a collective of minds looking more obliquely at the more common affixations to the modern bicycle. the legend that greets visitors to their website, pretty much encapsulates their philosophy in six words: 'beautiful simple gear for everyday cycling, and their bird cage is no exception.
crafted in the shape of a winged bird from lightweight alloy it looks neither ostentatious or understated. nor has there been any tilt away from practicality simply to satisfy artistic expression, for the folded wings securely grasp a standard water bottle, while the angled tail prevents it sliding out the other end. vaux's swifts are a well-known feature in portland, a substantial audience congregating every september at chapman's school to watch enormous numbers of the birds gathering to roost in the school's chimney. it is also an image that adorns the bicycle frames and clothing of portland's ira ryan. pdw have now made it seem the obvious choice of shape for a bottle cage.
however, their logical genius stops not just at the cage, for the packaging itself is worthy of mention and attention. though the cage is minimally packed by effectively bolting it to its display card, rather than the more ubiquitous zip-ties, each cage bolt is held in place by a nut on the underside of the card. thus, when removing the previous cage from the bike in order to replace it with one of these beauties, it is a simple matter to affix the outgoing cage in similar manner, ensuring that those elderly and retiring cage bolts will not be lost in what mrs washingmachinepost describes as that rubbish skip of a shed.
sorry, did i say that out loud?
portland design works products are distributed in the uk by paligap. the bird cage is available in black or silver sandblast (£13 - $20) or chrome finish (£15 - $23)
thursday 4th april 2013