2 years ago
JonPatrickHyde
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THE INSIDE LANE - Tech Talk - Tacx Seat Clamp Bottle Mount Review
The first time I rode with my bottles mounted to my seat instead of having them sitting in racks attached to the bike frame I felt as if I'd discovered something magical. If you are a true speed geek (like I am) you are going to look for anything you can to improve your aerodynamic profile. Aero shaped bottles, besides looking odd to me, pose issues from their irregular shapes - making them hard to grab and hold. Nothing beats a round bottle for ease of use. Putting the bottles behind you and your thighs, right behind your seat, shields them from the wind, making them practically invisible as you move through the air. My first experience with behind the seat bottle mounts was my Cervelo P2. When I sold that bike I had to find an alternative mounting system (since the Cervelo bottle system is proprietary and was included with the bike when I sold it). I decided to go with the Tacx "Seat Clamp" Bottle Mount. I've ridden with this system for a full year now - and here are some honest thoughts on it - PROS: It's robust. I'm a daily rider and I carry two 750ml Camelback bottles with me on each ride. The Tacx Seat Clamp allows you to mount a single cage (in the center) or two cages - Off set from one-another. I have two carbon-fiber cages, the bottles and 1.5 liters of water - all supported by the cage. Getting the bottles in and out of the racks located right behind your seat takes very little getting used to. I can pull my bottles out and put them back without missing - all by feel - which keeps me more balanced. I ride daily as part of my ongoing physical therapy for a serious back injury I took a couple of years ago and NOT having to bend over and grab a bottle from under my seat is a good thing. It's lightweight - doesn't really add too much additional weight to your bike. Use whatever cages you want - I use carbon fiber cages designed to work with the Camelback Podium Chill bottle series. These bottles have a specific shape which "locks" into the cage - preventing the bottle from bouncing out of the cage should I hit a hard bump - THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You can set the angle of the bottles in relation to your seat. The more straight up and down they are the less likely they are to fly out. As you will see from the different photos I've attached to this card, I've ridden with the bottles angled in several different positions through the last year. The second photo is the most current representation of the position I prefer to ride. Affordable - I paid $15 for my Tacx Seat Clamp Bottle Mount. CONS: If you are not using bottles and racks which work together to hold the bottles in place, you WILL shoot the bottles out of this rack like rear facing missiles. I took a couple of back up bottles on a ride when I'd been lazy and not washed my Camelbacks - and I have two sets - 4 total - so there's really no excuse - LOL. And about 20 minutes into my ride I hit a bump in the pavement that I hit EVERY time I ride this certain course and both smooth - plain bottles went flying. I cannot see this system working with any success on a mountain bike or trail bike. This rack system really wants smooth pavement to do its job. The clamp mechanism is really poorly designed. You have to really clamp the mechanism down, which bends the mount - to get it to stay stationary on the seat rails under the weight of two bottles. I put a couple of nuts in the tread between the mount bracket (made of metal) and the clamp body - made of a carbon/plastic mix. If you look at the 3rd photo of this card you'll see that even with these nuts and washers between the two parts to keep the tension of the screws from bowing the plastic frame, it is still bowed. Proprietary hardware. BE CAREFUL AND DO NOT LOSE ANY OF THE SCREWS OR NUTS THAT COME WITH THIS ITEM! The bottle racks mount to the clamp using standard bottle rack screws Which means if you don't want to use the screws that fit into your bike frame, you need to buy extras. And VERY IMPORTANT! - these new screws fit into a special square shaped nut - designed to fit into the clamp's body and provide the thread for the bottle screw to attach into. If you loose one of these little odd square nuts, you might as well order a new seat clamp. I put the extra ones I had into a safe place (the first couple of months I rode with a single bottle and rack) and when I decided to move to two racks and bottles I couldn't find that safe place. So I went to Home Depot and Lowes - and nope. That nut is a special sized nut made just for this product. Luckily I did find the safely hidden nuts. Other than finding them I would have had to order a new clamp. YOU CANNOT TURN YOUR BIKE OVER AND SIT IT ON IT'S SEAT AND BARS FOR QUICK UNDER THE BIKE REPAIRS. We've all done it countless times. You turn your bike upside down letting it rest on your seat and bars while you tinker with your bikes crank or derailleurs. You'll not be able to do that anymore. You'll snap your bottle racks off (if made of plastic or carbon - metal racks would probably be OK - but then you'll probably tear your seat clamp off. Really - this isn't the best way to get to the underside of your bike anyway. Some hydraulic disc systems will foul up if turned upside down for any length of time. And with carbon bars and seat posts, you really don't want to put weight on them that they were not designed for. It's a minor thing. But I really felt I should mention it. --------------------------- THE BOTTOM LINE - SEE MY REVISED ASSESSMENT OF THIS PRODUCT - IT BROKE IN HALF DURING A RIDE.... A very convenient way to mount your bottles, saving back fatigue and allowing you to keep better balance (much like if you put your bottles in the pockets on the back of your jersey). Aerodynamically sound. May require some extra attention to detail when mounting. Probably NOT the best solution for mountain biking or any type of riding where you're going to bounce the bike around a lot. The bottles, being located at the end of what can be called an "arm" - not attached to the frame with the frame tubes for support and protection - makes the bottles more prone to launching out of their racks. For under $20 - it is what it is. Not the best designed or best built device but it is an affordable way to try seat mounted bottles - if you decide you like them I recommend you get the Profile Design bottle system - made of aluminum and built to sit below the seat (so you can still turn your bike over for quick repairs) - it's 4 times as expensive - but worth it.
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Also, not that it matters much, but if you are concerned about aerodynamics I think one of the best things you can do is get into better position on your bike. Is there any reason you went for a ride with flat bars as opposed to drop handle bars?
I broke my back in 2012 and had to have 3 surgeries to put me back together. I spent most of 2013 in physical therapy - for a while I was afraid I'd never ride a bike again. I really took everything very seriously. I changed my diet, dropped 30lbs (most of it honestly was steroid weight gain but still). I do core strengthening exercises so my stomach muscles can help support my permanently damaged back. I sleep in a back brace every night, and I have found that the simple repetitive motion of cycling, low - impact, high cardio - does something to keep my back muscles loose and I am relatively pain free most days. When I was allowed to go back to riding - it was August 2013 - and I wasn't allowed to ride on the street, but I was monitored in my PT clinic on a pretty lame stationary, it had been over a year since my last ride. When I started riding a real bike in April of 2014 - I discovered my Cervelo P2 was painfully uncomfortable, my Fuji Altamira was also uncomfortable... that's when I pulled out my late 1990's Gary Fisher hard-tail mountain bike. It felt great - other than it had monster knobby tires and horrible gearing for street riding. Before long the 650 Spinergy rims off my Cervelo were on it. I'd upgraded the cassette, pedals, crank, bottom bracket, shifters, etc... I'd basically created a road bike using a mountain bike frame. It still weighed in at 25lbs and felt like a brick on hills. I started looking at "urban/fitness" bikes in July after my first 30+ mile ride. That heavy Fisher wanted to kill me. WAY too much work for the type of riding I like. I thought about taking my Altamira and putting flat bars on it. But then again I'd have to change everything pretty much with the drive train. I eventually tried three bikes, a Giant, a Specialized, and a Cannondale. All built around road frames, carbon fiber bodies, high-end road drive-trains, only they had flat bars and an architecture more conducive to comfortable riding. I went with the Cannondale because it was really so much nicer than the others. Better equipment (Ultegra vs 105) - a more comfortable frame (a modified Synapse frame) and it still allowed me to do a few things to it to make it more road-bike like. I put a set of Profile Design Carbon Stryke tri-bars on it. Put the nicest 130mm Easton carbon stem on it to lengthen the cockpit out some. Added a brilliant set of Ritchey ergonomic true flat bars - they curve forward dramatically then back at a very comfortable 10 degree so your wrists are in a perfect position for riding. I upgraded chain rings to TT rings (Vision) - cassette - and pretty much it's on par with my Cervelo - I can really haul some serious tail - but I can also choose a more relaxed riding stance and sit more like a mountain biker would. It's the best of both worlds for me really. The bike weighs in at 17lbs - still respectable - and it has 127 gear inches and a top end of around 45mph on flat land. My typical cadence is between 90-95rpm - so my average speed (a power meter is the next addition for this bike) is somewhere between 33 and 35mph. It keeps up with my hard-core road bike friends and their Di2 bikes that cost twice as much. And climbing? This bike is FAR more comfortable - it was really made for climbing. My Cervelo was the fastest bike I've ever owned. It was all Dura Ace - 11/23 rear with 60/42 front - an old Vuelta USA ring set I came across - it was pure time-trial - 3T aero bars - it was just a sick bike. But also feather light and dangerous. I'm much happier now. And for me - I still have to remind myself that I'm now riding for the health benefits and not to get my kicks. :D
BTW - LOL - the steroid comment above - I was on them for 4 months because of my back. Not because I was some dude who juiced to be a better rider. And I have thought about getting a custom bike made. Using a Cannondale Synapse Hi Mod frame as the platform - then building it up from there - I know a guy who is building Di2 trigger shifters - a hack of sorts. One button up, one down. I thought it would be fun to build a super-nice high end road bike, then put my favorite Ritchey carbon WCS 10D bars on it. :D
@JonPatrickHyde I'd love to hear more about the custom Di2 trigger shifters, that sounds like an awesome build! If you ever go through with the mod then you should definitely share the process. Synapse is a fantastic frame BTW, I think that would be a great fit for you.
I totally would - I have often been frustrated with the Internet that when I am in a DIY mood and want to attack something relatively complex or something that's totally new to me, that often there's just no decent information on how or where to start. That's why I've done the videos (on modifying trigger shifters, stopping brake squeal on disc brakes). If I can take what I've learned and put it out there in some format that helps someone else... that's a great feeling I suppose. I sincerely like to help others. About the trigger shifters for Di2 - he uses the TT trigger mechanisms available from Shimano - then he's made a custom housing that instead of fitting into bullhorns or TT bars, fits onto flat bars. It's pretty neat. If I can get some photos of the ones he's already done I will.