I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my water bottle system on my time trial bike. Since I bought the bike in 2007, an X-Lab system has been mounted behind the seat with two cages. Behind the seat systems have some advantages, particularly easy access and the ability to carry lots of fluid. At the time, this seemed like the way to go.
However, this system drove me nuts. For starters, there’s the bottle launch issue. I’d never lost a one on a race course, but lots in training. It was easy to strap a spare tubular on race day, but much harder to pack a more complete repair kit for training since it takes up the space where a normal seat bag would go. And then for a short guy like me, having two huge water bottles back there made mounting and dismounting the bike rather challenging. More than once I’ve kicked my bottles out at the start or end of a bike segment.
For this season, I’m going minimalist. With Ironman switching drink sponsors to product that doesn’t give my stomach fits, it should be possible to race with only a single bottle cage and pick up fresh at the aid stations. The logical place to put a single bottle is up on the handlebars. It’s convenient and aerodynamic, essentially hiding the bottle in between one’s arms.
There are lots of possible mounting systems from the likes of HED, X-Lab and Profile Designs, but they all have problems. A couple of them are quite expensive. Others put the bottle too low between the aerobar extensions and that didn’t work for my narrowly spaced J-bends. There’s no room to pull the bottle out!
The top cap cage mount from King Cage in Durango, CO is brilliant. It’s a stamped piece of aluminum that replaces the top cap of the stem. Cheap, light and puts the bottle in just the right position, not too far forward or back.
In training, I’m using a second bottle cage on the down tube for extra capacity and the under seat space is still free for the toolkit. Now all I need are some water bottles that don’t leak in the horizontal position.