Water.  If I remember my 2nd grade science correctly, we’re mostly made of the stuff, so it stands to reason that during REALLY hot Summers (like this one), staying hydrated is not just a good suggestion, it’s critical.  Sure, we would all like to have more water handy during steamy rides, but that nagging question always arises, “where do I put it?”  Well, whether you’re a triathlete who follows the latest debates about the most optimal position for a water bottle, or an avid cyclist who just wants a way to transport a little more H2O for your next epic ride, the elegant simplicity of the top cap cage mount by King Cage may be just the solution you’ve been searching for. King Cage of Durango, Colorado is probably most well known for its hand crafted bottle cages. However, with their latest offering they make a slight change of direction and present to us a product that will provide another location to place one of those hand crafted cages (or whatever cage you prefer).

As of late, I’ve personally been studying some alternate ways to take hydration on the bike during sprint distance races.  Some people can make it through a sprint without any type of hydration at all.  My body, on the other hand, has a high demand for fluids, so passing on the hydration is simply not an option for me.  For the most part, the Profile Design Aerodrink has been my go-to bottle and in all fairness, it has worked well for me.  For some reason though, I’ve gotten it into my head that it may just be a little bit of overkill at that distance.  I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. In any case, I’m always on the lookout for a better mousetrap and like many bike junkies, I just love a new gizmo.  Enter the King Cage top cap cage mount.  Let’s take a look:

The mount is made of lightweight aluminum, not carbon fiber (gasp!) Even so, it weighs in at a scant 15 grams.  Granted, aluminum is no longer the hot “space age” material, but at 15 grams it is still lighter than some of its more well known competitors.  Personally, I like the fact that it feels sturdy.  I was never afraid I might accidentally break it during installation or use. Of course, cost is also always a factor, and that is one particular area where the top cap cage mount shines.  It is available online for $8 directly from King Cage (he still makes these in his garage), and can be shipped to your door for another $4.

I can’t comment on the competition from a qualitative standpoint.  They may all be great offerings, and I would love an opportunity to try them all at some point, but to date I simply have no firsthand experience with them.  However, what I can compare directly is their advertised costs and weights.  By the way, all of these mounts fall into the category of “cockpit” located hydration, and in triathlon terms aim for that bottle position know as “between the bars.”  Before I dive into a more in-depth review of the King Cage mount, let’s look at some of the other options.

HED Lollipop: fixed and adjustable mounts

HED Lollipop:  This is a slick looking little design from the same guys who bring us super sleek race wheels and the like.  The Lollipop is for bikes with a 1-1/8” steerer tube and comes in two flavors, a fixed mount and an adjustable version. The listed weight for the fixed mount is 24 grams (with bolts), which is slightly heavier than the King Cage product.  The list price for the fixed mount is $40. The adjustable version gives you the ability to tweak the bottle position, and it weighs in at 50 grams (with bolts) and lists for $50.

It appears that since the mount slides onto the steerer tube and sits under your top cap, those running a setup with little to no spacers might not be able to make use of this system.

Xlab Torpedo Mount

X-Lab Torpedo Mount:  The X-Lab mount  places your bottle a little farther out, literally suspending it between your aeroabars via a carbon fiber mounting cradle.  The system weighs 36 grams and can be found for around $40 through online retailers.  If you aren’t riding a triathlon bike or a road bike with clip-on aero bars this isn’t the system for you.  If you like the more forward position it offers as well as the simplicity of its Velcro attachment system, the Torpedo mount might be worth checking out.  However, I have seen lots of homemade setups that accomplish the same thing using a standard bottle cage and a handful of zip-ties at only a fraction of the cost.

King Cage top cap cage mount:  The King Cage mount is designed for use on bikes with a threadless headset.  That’s the typical type of headset used on modern road bikes, but if you aren’t sure what type of headset your bike employs click here for a brief explanation.  As opposed to the HED version, which slides directly onto the steerer tube, the King Cage mount actually serves as a replacement for your headset’s top cap.  Installation is a breeze.

Installation: The directions that come with the mount are pretty vanilla (literally) and could perhaps offer a little more guidance for those who may not be comfortable tinkering with their own bikes, but they get to the point. The actual installation should only take a couple of minutes. The instructions suggest that the unit has a front and back end, but in reality which direction you turn it depends on whether or not you run with your stem flipped (pointing down as opposed to up) and whether or not you have cut your steerer tube down (typical) or leave extra spacers in place so you can vary your bar height.

I would call my basic setup only mildly atypical, as my triathlon bike does not have the stem inverted, but I have chosen to keep extra spacers in place so I can change my position based on the distance I am racing.  The mount acts as a replacement for the top cap on your stem. If you aren’t comfortable fiddling with your stem/headset I would suggest having a mechanic or a knowledgeable friend help you out – safety first! The mount is designed to hold your bottle in a slightly inclined position, but by simply turning it around backwards I was able to achieve a more level and aerodynamic bottle position.

(standard top cap is shown in photo, but has since been removed)

(Note: You can see from the picture that I’m not always the best at following instructions, even when they could fit on a note card.  I re-installed the top cap for my headset on top of the king cage mount.  I did this initially, as I wasn’t sure how much I trusted the cupped design of the mount to keep water out of my headset.  Last Summer I lost some bearings in the headset on my tri-bike due to moisture, so I started out cautiously.  I have since removed the extra cap and use the mount as recommended.  I have yet to use the system on a rainy day, but so far I have not noticed any moisture/water retention issues.)

I recommend centering the mount before posting pictures to your blog.

I chose to use my go-to bottle cage, the Trek Bat Cage.  It’s nothing fancy, no carbon fiber or titanium here.  It’s just a relatively inexpensive (I usually get them when they go on sale in the Summer) plastic bottle cage that is fairly light and launches fewer bottles than other models I’ve tried.  I’ve field-tested the mount a few times now on both long and short rides, and I’ve been pleased with the results.  Only once have I lost a bottle, and I would attribute that more to taking a fast downhill (which terminated in a pothole) than I would a deficiency in the mount’s design.  Bottle choice however is important.  If you have a leaky bottle, you are likely to get water, Gatorade, or whatever else might be inside, dripping down the front of your bike.  So far, I have yet to have any spillage issues with this mount.  In summary, the top cap mount seems to be a very simple, clever, and effective hydration solution.  So whether you are just looking to pack on more water, or you want a bottle location that won’t force you out of the aero position, the King Cage top cap mount might be worth your time (and your $12). Have fun, ride safe, stay hydrated, and finish well!

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