Water bottle eyelets are a bit of an obsession of mine. For instance, I needed to haul up to 10 litres riding across the Sonoran desert on the Arizona Trail, and in Mexican Sierra Madre, most of the camp spots in the mountains were bone dry.
In my Surly Troll review a couple of posts back, I mentioned a couple of wish-list modifications, the icing on the cake to hone this burly and versatile mountain bike into my ideal dirt road, long distance tourer. But seeing as my frame was sent to me by Surly for testing purposes, I couldn’t exactly go and fire up the welding torch (or rather, call apon the services of friend and expert framebuilder Robin Mather). So, I ended up cheekily emailing them to see if I might make a couple of tweaks to their property.
The response was an enthusiastic ‘go for it!’
Which we did.
There wasn’t much to do. I only really wanted eyelets below the downtube to carry an extra water bottle. Most dedicated touring frames feature these – like Surly´s LHT – and it’s something I find really useful. Even if temperatures don’t demand that level of fluid guzzling during the day, it’s useful to fill up when I’m close to finding a camping spot.
At the moment I’m running a framebag, so bottles within the frame itself aren’t an issue. But seeing as I was in the workshop, I also asked Robin to add a third eyelet on the top of the downtube. This will give me more water cage placement possibilities for the likes of a Topeak Modula Cage XL, or the option of running one of Salsa’s versatile Anything Cages at some point.
If I’d had the rigid fork to hand, I might have gone completely eyelet-happy and had some added there too, a la Salsa Fargo and Surly Ogre. But I’m running suspension at the moment, so that useful mod will have to wait for another day.
Making these changes will inevitably void your frame’s warranty. Although they’re straightforward enough to carry out, make sure you have them administered by someone who knows what they’re doing.
Think hard about the placement of this extra bottle. Position it low for stability, but make the cage sits above the chainrings to reduce the chance of it getting snagged when tackling rocky terrain. Allow extra space if you intend to run one a larter Topeak, BBB or Minoura’s cage, which extend lower than normal. If you are, make sure the top of a 1.5 litre bottle has plenty of clearance with a rigid fork (and potential mudguards), as well as with suspension that’s under compression.
Before you start…
Lastly, I should add that there are ways of getting round this issue without resorting to surgery by using zip ties, something like this or bottle cages designed for frames without eyelets. Hose clamps are a good option too. Butas well as being more elegant, this is certainly a more secure solution, and makes an easy, useful addition to a frame that’s due for a respray.
A big thanks to Robin Mather, frame builder extraordinaire. Click here to gaze upon some of the most beautifully crafted bicycles you can lay your hands on…