Archive | Bottle cages

New from Gilles Berthoud: Universal and Tool Bags, Mirrors

We are excited to add a few great products from Gilles Berthoud to the Compass program. The Small Universal Bag (above) is really neat: It holds a lightweight rain jacket, wallet, inner tube and a few other things. It’s incredibly versatile: Use it as a saddlebag (above) or hang it from your handlebars. Tandem stokers love this bag, because it fits neatly on a tandem’s rear handlebars, too.

Or attach the Small Universal Bag to a front or rear rack. You can put it on the racktop, or hang it on the side like a mini-pannier. There is even a leather piece on one end that slips over the backstop of a front rack. The Small Universal Bag fits perfectly on the Compass UD-1 rack. It needs a platform that is at least 17 cm long, and the backstop should be no wider than 50 mm. (It can be used without attaching to the backstop, too.)

Under the flap is a zipper, so it’s safe to carry keys and a wallet – nothing will fall out. The Small Universal Bag is a great bag for which you’ll find many uses.

A slightly smaller, superlight option is the Bottle Cage/Saddle Tool Bag. It’s a great way to carry inner tubes and other necessities in a bottle cage – much nicer and more secure than the cut-off water bottle I’ve used for this purpose in the past. It fits perfectly into Nitto’s T Cage (above)…

… but it also can be attached to most other cages with a toestrap. Or carry the bag under your saddle. Made from the same ultra-strong cotton canvas and leather edging as the other Gilles Berthoud luggage, these bags last (almost) forever. The canvas swells when it gets wet on the outside, making the bags mostly waterproof. Made from natural materials, they acquire a beautiful patina as you use them.
Still speaking of bags, we’ve noticed that the leather straps on the large Berthoud panniers were a little thin. They work fine, but after 10 years of hard use, I had to replace mine on one set of panniers. So we asked Berthoud to make extra-strong straps from thicker leather for us.

Gilles Berthoud’s mirrors are beautifully made from aluminum. We’ve had the first version for a while, but it didn’t adjust quite far enough for long-reach handlebars that are tilted upward a bit. The new Mk II version adjusts over a wide range and fits all road handlebars (inner diameter ~20 mm).

The mirrors are available in silver and black…

… and with a leather insert to match Berthoud’s saddles and handlebar tape. The leather mirrors come with a second, matching bar plug.
All these products are in stock now. Click on the links below for more information:

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New Water Bottles and Others 'Back in Stock'

Our new water bottles celebrate the Compass and René Herse logos with a bold new design. The bottles are based on Specialized’s popular 26 oz. Purist design, with our custom graphics.

In addition to the iconic logos, the bottles feature a quote that describes our approach to bicycles. The new design is limited to 500 bottles, and we expect them to sell out fast. Get yours while you can!
Click here to order.
A few other Compass products also have been popular, and we’ve had a hard time keeping up with demand. We’ve just received new stock of the following:

Our Cyclotouring Knickers look great on and off the bike. Their slightly roomy fit is comfortable, yet they do not billow like many ‘casual’ cycling shorts. Whether on or off the bike, they simply disappear. Hand-sewn in Seattle, WA, from a synthetic woven fabric with a little stretch, the Compass knickers don’t constrict your pedaling, no matter how fast (or slow) you are riding. Click here for more information about Compass clothing.

MKS Allways pedals (left) combine a large platform with superlight weight. The US-B Nuevo clipless pedals (right) are compatible with Time’s ATAC cleats. Both feature the smooth-spinning bearings for which high-end MKS pedals are famous. The Ezy Superior Rinko version of each model (shown above) allows removing the pedals without tools – ideal for travel or for storing the bike in a narrow spot. Click here for more information about MKS pedals.
We hope you’ll enjoy these products as much as we do!

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My Favorite Bottle Cages

It’s rare that I fall completely in love with a product, but it happened with the Nitto bottle cages. Ever since I began cycling seriously, I have been looking for the perfect bottle cages. In the late 1980s, almost everybody used the aluminum TA bottle cages. They were lightweight, but they tended to break after a year or two. Then came a number of welded aluminum bottle cages that lasted a bit longer, but they were heavier and looked clumsy. Plastic cages also were durable, but I did not find them elegant.
When I discovered the American Classic bottle cages, I really liked them. Instead of welds that could fail, these were clamped in an ingenious way by the bolt that attached them to the frame. They lasted much longer than any of the bottle cages I had used before, but being made from aluminum, they turned black and marred my bottles. Nonetheless, I used them for more than a decade, and even stocked up after American Classic stopped making them. My old Alex Singer still is equipped with them.
Over the years, other bottle cages have become available that are durable, but I find most of them too bulky to match the aesthetics of a classic steel frame.
When I built up my Urban Bike seven years ago, I decided to give the Nitto bottle cages a try. They seemed expensive at the time, but they really have delivered on all my criteria. They are made from thin stainless steel, so they look in proportion to the steel tubes of my frame. Being stainless, they don’t mar my bottles. They grip my bottles securely, yet the bottles are easy to retrieve and insert. Over the years, they have proven remarkably durable. They have become the epitome of bottle cages for me.
On my Urban Bike, I use the “R” (racing) model, with two loops that hold the bottle in a spring-loaded grip. The shape allows you to pull the bottle slightly upward (and push downward to put the bottle back in the cage), which makes it easy to get a drink without looking down.
When I built my René Herse, I was trying to keep the weight of the bike as light as possible, so I chose the “R80” bottle cages. They have the same shape, but are made from tubular steel instead of solid rod (photo at the top of this post). The “R80” is 20% lighter than the “R”. At just 40 grams, its weight is competitive with many carbon fiber bottle cages.
For the third bottle cage underneath the down tube, I use the “T” (touring, above). It forms a closed loop, so the weight of the bottle cannot open the cage as it hangs underneath the down tube. Even during the 360 miles of (mostly) rough gravel roads during the Oregon Outback, my third bottle remained secure. You can also use the “T” in a more conventional location, but it requires a little more precision when retrieving or replacing the bottle. (I’ve done it on the move even with the bottle mounted under the down tube, so it’s not a big deal.)
Made by craftsmen in Japan, these are all the bottle cages I’ll ever need. Mine have withstood many hard miles. They represent the finishing touch on a beautiful bike. These bottle cages are so good that we decided to offer them in our Compass Bicycles program.
To go with these cages, we use our Compass water bottles. Made by Camelbak, these are another product we found to be so good that we decided to offer them through Compass Bicycles. We love the ease of squirting a mouthful of water from these bottles, yet they don’t leak significantly, even if you leave the top valve open.
We also offer the Iribe bottle cages, which are silver-brazed from tubular stainless steel by Mr. Iribe, a master Keirin framebuilder. (He was portrayed in the Summer 2014 issue of Bicycle Quarterly.) While these cages are completely functional and superlight, they really are works of art. I love the little reinforcing plates that Mr. Iribe wraps over the joints to act as lugs, since you cannot easily fillet-braze stainless steel. I am glad the Iribe cages exist, but for my own bikes, the simpler Nitto cages are all I need.
Click here for more information on the cages and bottles.

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Bottle Cages

When I knew Ernest Cuska, the long-time owner of Cycles Alex Singer, he did not have bottle cages on his bikes. After riding with him a few times, I realized why: He did not drink anything while riding. Imagine my surprise when I looked at old photos of him and saw a bottle on the down tube of every one of his bikes (above during the Tour de France Cyclotouriste 1950). When he was younger and one of the fastest cyclosportifs of France,  even he had to hydrate while riding.
When I was a teenager, putting a bottle cage on my bike was the first act of becoming a “serious” cyclist. No longer did I just ride around town, but I was riding for hours now, and I needed to carry a drink. (In those days, it was water with a little lemon juice.)

At the time, everybody used the inexpensive TA aluminum bottle cages. They worked well, but eventually, they broke. We tried extra-sturdy cages from Specialized, but they also broke, albeit a little later. When I moved to the United States, I discovered the American Classic bottle cages, which lasted much longer and held the bottles more securely. All these cages were made from aluminum, so they marked the bottles.
On my new bike, I did not want grungy-looking bottles, so I needed a steel bottle cage. TA used to make steel cages (above), but they were heavy, and they got rusty, especially if your bottles contained electrolytes (salt). Fortunately, Nitto offers stainless steel bottle cages that are lightweight, hold the bottle securely, don’t rust, and look beautiful.
There are three models:

The R Cage (above) consists of two wire loops that act like a spring. It holds your bottle very securely.

The R80 Cage is similar, but made from stainless steel tubing rather than wire. This reduces the weight by 20% (10 g).

The T Cage is the most beautiful cage I know. It has a closed loop on top, which holds the bottle very securely even when it is mounted underneath the top tube. However, because it has no spring action, inserting the bottle requires more precision, and some bottles may rattle.
Nitto bottle cages are hand-made in small batches. They can be hard to find. We sell the products we like and use on our own bikes, so Compass Bicycles now carries Nitto bottle cages. Click here for more information.

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Bottle Cages, Bike Stands and Leather Washers

At Compass Bicycles, we carry products we value, even if we don’t expect them to be very profitable. The Iribe bottle cage is a case in point. On the face of it, $ 150 for a bottle cage is a lot of money. It’s only slightly lighter than a Nitto cage. Without a bottle, it looks slightly odd. So what is the appeal?
It’s really a piece of artwork first, and a fully functional bottle cage second. The craftsmanship reminds me of a Samurai sword. Mr. Iribe mostly builds Keirin track frames, and he makes a few bottle cages as well. Each is crafted by hand from stainless steel tubing. Stainless steel must be silver-brazed, and silver does not lend itself to fillet-brazing, so Mr. Iribe wraps tiny plates of steel over each joint to give it enough surface area for the silver-brazed joint. Then the entire cage is polished, not plated, and so you can see how it was made.

The shape actually makes perfect sense once you see it with a bottle inside. When somebody expends that much care on a simple bottle cage, we want to support them.

The Nitto Bike Stand is another simply beautiful object. It’s fillet-brazed from steel tubing, like an upside-down rear rack. It holds the bike securely, making it easy to carry the bike with the stand attached. It’s a very elegant way to display a bike.

Classic bikes are relatively easy to maintain, but the rubber brake lever hoods tend to deteriorate over time, and there is no way of refurbishing them. For classic Weinmann brake levers, we now offer Japanese reproduction hoods that are at least as nice as the originals. (Update: the hoods are no longer available.)

Finally, here is an item that most “real-world” riders need. Leather washers keep your metal fenders quiet and prevent the bolts from vibrating loose. We’ve been frustrated by washers that were too soft and squishy, but these are hand-made by Phil Woosley in California from firm, thick leather. A package of five will be enough for even the most completely-equipped constructeur bike: One for each bridge on the rear, plus two for the fender attachments of the rear rack, and one for the fender attachment of the front rack. (There should not be any washers on the fender stay attachments.) We include these washers with every set of fenders we sell, and we now offer them separately as well.

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