THE BACK BOTTLE
The Back Bottle water bottle is designed specifically for jersey pockets and not, traditional cages. On some levels, a one trick pony and the price may alienate some. However, it is very well made and a convenient way of carrying additional fluids on a very hot day, and has some distinct advantages across many cycling disciplines.
Brian Davis, the brains behind the concept, confirms it was conceived to appeal to a wide spectrum of riders and has several advantages over the bog standard bidon.
Most road/Audax and winter bikes only sport two cages. On a hot day, it’s easy to cruise through two 750ml trade bottles given a couple of hours’ effort - we should be sipping at a similar rate through winter, too.
Carrying a third bottle, crucially eliminates the need to stop off at convenience stores/petrol stations for additional supplies. Not a hassle on a group ride where one rider can stand guard over bikes, while others raid the fridge. Ah, but you’re on a solo ride and left the quick-stop cable lock at home…
Materials and design
As I’d expect for a tenner, the back bottle is very well made (In the US of A, don’t you know) from high quality, food grade, BPA free recycled materials.
This mean it won’t taint your tipple, or leach not-so-nice chemicals into your body. Opaque with the fill line clearly stamped on the neck, you can spot exactly how much is left and there’s no reason you’ll get caught out when you’ve added some ice.
Depending on your chosen beverage, it’s easy to spot just how much fluid you have on board - reassuring for a close riding companion, or even young protégé’s following behind on the tandem/tagalong, but could be a gift to a competitor.
Angular profile aside you’ll notice an arrow head tip and flat back with grooves. This is deliberate; engineered to slip effortlessly in and out of jersey pockets, without leaving the rider feeling like a high speed mobile missile launcher.
It also allows cool air to circulate. Thus far, it’s been difficult to appreciate this feature’s true worth, given spring-like temperatures have only very recently arrived. Talking of which, tough sturdy, the bottle is just the right-side of squidgy.
Relatively little effort is needed to get a measured and controllable flow, without risk of chocking - great when passing a bottle to a younger, or indeed, impaired rider.
I’m contemplating a return to short distance time-trialling. Relying on the back bottle whole doing ten mile blasts on my Holdsworth enabled me to remain hunkered low on its pursuit bars and able to snatch and sip at regular intervals without distraction.
The bite valve and top is harder than I’ve come to expect and quite tough on my veneers, though very secure. I’ve deliberately parked ours upside down and thundered along a fair few miles of singletrack without any signs of leakage, let alone soggy pockets.
By default, location ensures good protection from spray, silt and other generic cack thrown up by the rear wheel. Sometimes, say when thundering along bridle paths peppered with horse and cow dung, I’ve raided a protective dome type cap from another in my collection, just to be on the safe side.
Leading on from my earlier remarks, I have tended to flush ours through with a shot of Milton and kettle water at the end of each ride. However, it also responds very well to 50 and 55 degree dishwasher cycles.
Murphy’s Law pretty much guarantees that there will be exceptions to anything claiming to be universal. First and foremost and as we’d hope, it’s a vast superior pocket passenger compared to round designs.
However, shallower terraces required spreading the walls with thumb and forefinger, then slotting in/out. Worth checking and/or practicing this technique before a major ride, just to ensure its second nature.
We were sent a pair, which allowed them to ride the outer pockets without bobbing, or annoying incremental creep. Used singularly, the middle pocket should be your default, since ours did ride up after 30minutes or so.
As I said earlier, air temperatures have barely crept past double figures during our April test period, so I’ve only filled ours with ice during a few sessions on the indoor trainer. The chill was very obvious to begin with, yet stopped a long way short of intrusive. The thawing stage is relatively pedestrian too, which also came in handy for alleviating some minor back pain.
On the one hand, a tenner isn’t particularly cheap, especially for a bottle that cannot slide into standard cages. If your bottom line is price, basic trade bottles will do the job for couple of quid. Similarly, even really small compact geometry framesets can manage two smaller bottles in their main triangle, thanks to left /right specific side entry cages.
That said; the back bottle offers some subtle, though significant advantages and is very well executed. While I wouldn’t choose this system in place of traditional bottles and cages, it makes a very useful addition.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Quite niche but well made and a much nicer way of carrying bottles in jersey pockets.
PUBLISHED MAY 2017