The Spoke May 8, 2014

(urgent and alternate) Bottle Carrier Repairs

In terms of bike technical expertise goes, I’m treading on thin ground. I more of a rider than a ‘fixer’ (and that’s a debateable point). As M’s Cycles (Shoreham) will attest, my maintenance skills, at best, can be described as patchy. I suffer from the just ‘having a go’ mind-set, usually not referring either to instructions or more qualified help. Then, when things inevitably do go a bit ‘flat tyre’, professional assistance is subsequently required – enter the (now not very) local bike shop. Therefore it is with some degree of trepidation that (a) I share this with you and (b) think it offers a degree of genuine help. Offering ‘alternate’ semi-mechanical advice is not likely to become a major new feature at bikebritain – but here goes.

I have ridden many thousands of miles of the Allez Elite. During this time, the most major mechanical failures was an original Mavic rear wheel rim failing (luckily uphill). Other than that it’s been consumable items that have required replacing which is to be expected. A while ago, maybe 3 years ago at most, the inserts that hold the ‘main’ bottle cage on the down-tube started to go very wobbly. Although the bolts were done up as tightly as possible, the cage continued to sway about. In the end the inserts that allowed the bottle cage to be bolted to the frame failed. I took it to another LBS who replaced them without (a) much fuss and (b) much expense. However it wasn’t before long they were beginning to wobble. Suffice to say they have wobbled for some time until about a week ago when the top insert gave way ‘fell’ inside the frame. So now I had a rattle in the frame and a broken primary bottle carrier. I considered whether I could fix it myself.

Clearly I could attempt at fixing a new insert into the frame, but that presented multiple complications. I would need to purchase a specific insert, I wasn’t sure how to fit it and it might need more/different tools than those at my disposal. I did, however, have cable ties. And a drill. And the bottle cage was plastic. Upon carefully examination, I noticed the thickest part of the cage was at its base which had no contact with the bottle as it slid in and out. I had already been using a pair of cable ties to augment the existing fasteners. It could be that if 2 holes per side where drilled through the bottle cage, I could thread a cable tie through the cage structure and attached it around the down-tube, thus negating the need for an insert in the frame. 

I love drilling stuff.

The difficulty is that often the love of drilling gets in the way of the objective, which is precisely what occurred here. I was so keen to get started, I planned the position of the hole poorly. Having drilled a pair of holes broadly in alignment with each other, I noticed that the travel of the bottle would interfere with the cable tie. Whilst it was not critical, it would be optimal to shift hole placement by 3mm, so there was no unnecessary bottle/cable tie interference. Drilling two more holes, I got the alignment correct. I then repeated the exercise at the opposite end of the bottle cage.

6 holes drilled. 4 in the right place. 66% success rate.

The rest of the procedure was very straightforward – hence my love of cable ties. Strapped down and tightened with the remaining bolt in place for good measure I was ready to ride. The bottle went in and out and because of the colour scheme of the bike, the cable ties were barely noticeable. I even covered the hole in the down-tube where the insert had previously been with the right colour electrical tape for a ‘professional’ looking job.

I have no idea how long this solution will last. However, bottle carriage and retrieval remains unaffected, the cage itself is as secure as I can get it and if the cable ties need replacing it is a 30 second job. So if you are suffering from the same problem, this is one possible solution. All in all, I am claiming success with this one.

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