I admit to being a nay-sayer of all bike components carbon-fibre. About the only thing that is made of carbon-fibre on my ride are the stem/headset spacers. Carbon-fibre has, in my mind, a penchant for brittleness, and a tendency to lend the average recreational cyclist ‘poser’ credentials (at least until said component fails), not to mention a steep price relative to conventional metal or plastic components. But all these impressions have changed since having had the opportunity to test the Arundel Carbon Water Bottle Cage.
The Arundel bottle cage is hand-laid and pressure moulded from carbon fibre ? its unassuming carbon-black finish interrupted only by the red ?Arundel? sticker emblazoned on its ?spine?. Without the washers and mounting nuts & Allen bolts that come with the Arundel, it weighs a mere 28 grams. The initial impression one has of the Arundel is that it is rather stout in terms of construction compared to most other carbon fibre cages, and apt to tolerate some hard usage.
The advantage of bottle cages coated with a layer of resin or plastic – in the case of the Arundel, the resin coating for the carbon fibre material – is that they do not mark plastic water bottles after prolonged usage. Other than keeping bottles stain-free, the Arundel bottle cage exerts a very positive hold on its load. Other bottle cages, particularly those made of bent wire, or sporting plastic joins, may deform over heavy usage. Eventually, it only takes a high-speed, bump-ridden section to send a bottle flying in a direction other than the bicycle and its rider. The Arundel showed no such tendencies due to the robustness of the tab that grips the bottle and the stiffness of the main ?wings? on either side of its spine.
Different bottles were put into the Arundel during our review period. They included a Zefal Magnum, a Specialized Soft-top, a Polar insulated bottle, and even a Gatorade bottle. The Arundel held onto each of them with aplomb on the road and in the dirt alike. In fact, we found the largest bottle, the Magnum (1 litre capacity) to be a bit of a squeeze. Still, the Arundel firmly retained a completely full Magnum over the high speed bumps of our Bukit Timah trail test circuit, where lesser, flimsier cages would have long surrendered their load.
The Arundel works best with slightly tapered bottle designs rather than those with straight sides, especially in racing conditions. Being made of carbon fibre, the bottle cage never becomes misaligned or bent towards one side from constantly taking out and putting in a bottle on that favoured side alone, a trait that almost all metal bottle cages have. This characteristic of carbon-fibre is great in itself, but those riders using smaller frame sizes or particularly tall bottles may suffer frame clearance problems. I raced the Action Asia Challenge Singapore adventure race with the Arundel bolted to the down tube, using 600ml bottles, with no problems at all, save for dropping one bottle (my own carelessness) while negotiating a downhill while simultaneously attempting to stuff said water bottle back into the cage.
We were aware that over-tightening of the mounting bolts might crack the mounting holes or the carbon fibre spine. Conversely, in order to prevent the bolts from rattling loose due to hesitant tightening, rubber washers or spacers with holes, placed between the frame and bottle cage, are recommended for prolonged off-road riding.
It is not the lightest carbon bottle cage around, but it is certainly not the most expensive either. It holds on tight, and has shown no outward signs of damage during our test period, a definite plus in my book. For what it is worth, the Arundel shines as a practically designed, lightweight, yet stylish accessory to fit to any suitable-sized bike.