Hydrating the machine

At the risk of sounding like a mamil training hard for a competitive cycling event, it is a fact that, if you are thirsty, you are already partially dehydrated … and, if you are already partially dehydrated, your body’s systems (including circulation, temperature control, and the ability to convert food into energy) are already working sub-optimally.

If that is the case, why wouldn’t recreational cyclists on tour want to take the same approach to remaining hydrated as their competitive counterparts? If you are properly hydrated, you will perform better … in other words, you will enjoy your touring more.

There is also the fact that, depending on the climate in which you are riding, dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially when you are exerting yourself more than you may do normally. That puts you at risk if you are travelling alone, and means stress and inconvenience for your companions if you collapse on them mid-ride (I’ve had heat exhaustion and it’s not fun).

The need to remain hydrated is a no brainer, but the design of a Brompton bicycle does not make it easy to mount water bottle cages, such that you have ready access to water when touring. You could carry water in a hydration bladder in a backpack, but that isn’t great for all-day cycle touring (a sweaty back and a higher centre of gravity for starters). You could keep bottles in a front bag or pannier, but the hassle of accessing them every time you want a drink means that you are more likely to drink less than you should. Brompton’s own T bag has a bottle-sized rear pocket, but I preferred to purchase the Carradice equivalent, made of cotton duck canvas. This has two rear-facing pockets, but they are the wrong shape for stowing bottles.

Hmm, so what to do?

The Bromptology solution to hydration

Hydration, Bromptology-style

In summary, this is twin 800ml Klean Kanteen water bottles, secured in twin King Cage Iris bottle cages, each attached to an M-Wave double bottle cage mount, itself attached to a BIKEfun water bottle cage adapter, which is designed to mount on the Brompton handlebar support, and which can easily be removed when necessary. Ta dah.

I should state at the outset that this is not a cheap solution, but it is the best solution that I could think of, and its mostly metal components are completely in keeping with the industrial aesthetic I so admire in the design of my raw-lacquered Brompton.

The bottom line is that this solution functions brilliantly, and it looks good (with hardly any plastic). What’s not to like, apart from the cost … and the weight penalty, if you are a gram counter (172g without bottles, in case you were wondering)? I’ll compromise somewhere else on the touring equipment weight front, in order to enjoy the benefits of this solution.

Bromptology’s vision of Aquarius (the legendary water bearer)

In due course, I will review each component of this solution separately. However, in the interim, here is a photograph of the complete set up, without the bottles inserted.

BIKEfun are based in Taiwan. I ordered the water bottle cage adaptor from their website. It took just over seven weeks to arrive here in the UK, which included the busy Christmas period. So be prepared to wait, unless you are happy to pay more for expedited shipping. I wasn’t and, in this era of one-day deliveries, it was quite a nostalgic experience waiting so long for a package to arrive … delayed gratification!

Below is BIKEfun’s own video, showing how their Brompton water bottle cage adaptor is initially attached to and then detached from a Brompton’s handlebar support (the strip of clear plastic film being applied to the handlebar support is simply to protect your Brompton’s paintwork, so applying it is a once-only task … oh, and they do not supply a water bottle cage with it).

BIKEfun’s Brompton water bottle cage adaptor

The beauty of this arrangement is that, if I need to fold my Brompton, I can simply and instantly remove the entire unit – including the water bottles, which both remain securely in situ – and then carry it separately, or bungee it to the folded bike, or hook it over a bag handle or strap to carry it. Since I carry my Brompton as little as possible, by always wheeling it as far as I can before folding it, this is a very workable solution.

  • BIKEfun water bottle cage adapter – £46.10 (including international shipping)
  • M-wave double bottle cage adaptor – £6.95
  • King Cage Iris water bottle cage (x2) – £21.99 each
  • Kleen Kanteen Classic water bottle (x2) – £17.50 each (I already had one of these)
  • TOTAL is £132.03 (2018 pricing)
The complete solution, sans Brompton

Before anyone gets too hot under the collar about that total (in which case drink some water before you dehydrate), those water bottles are hardwearing enough for me to use them when hiking, and the entire solution is tough enough to last many, many years (it will outlast me) … oh, and the total is nearly 30% less than the price of some Brompton titanium seat posts (weighing in at £200 … ouch, not something I’ll be buying … ‘you pays your money and you takes your choice‘).

When I review each component, I’ll recommend some budget alternatives, which would bring down the overall cost of this two-bottle solution by quite some margin (some of which I used while gradually accumulating these components, since I didn’t buy them all in one go).