SEVEN DAY CYCLIST
CYCLING, BUT NOT USUALLY RACING
LATEST UPDATE: MAY 30th
Topeak Modula Java Cage
(Standard) 125g £12.99
The Topeak Modula Java Cage is an adjustable model designed with coffee lugging commuters in mind. It does this duty just fine. Before you click away, its equally competent at lugging other goodies that standard cages cannot. Great for daily drivers, tourers and gravel bikes, too.
Pros: Solidly made, user friendly and reliable, replacement parts available.
Cons: Not a con but longer bottle screws might be needed if pairing with a mini pump bracket.
There are two versions, slim and standard. Ours was the latter and for my needs, all the better for it. The standard will accommodate tumblers/bottles between 175-240mm tall, with an upper diameter of 75-90mm and lower 60-78mm. The slim version is 165-185mm (about 7.28 in) tall, diameters 60-78mm and 58-68mm (about 2.68 in) (upper and lower respectively).
Either way, both are made from “engineering grade” polymer. A rubberised top closure to hold necks securely and a plastic dial at the base, adjusting the height. Talking of which, the frame mount holes have around half a centimetre of adjustment, but at 21cm tall (when fully extended) the cage occupies a reasonable amount of space.
This may be a consideration for owners of smaller, semi/compact geometry framesets, not wanting to lose a bottle cage. However, I’m pleased to report few problems with Ursula’s 41cm frame. Adjustment is intuitive, simply slacken the yellow dial and slide the cage up/down the spine and snug tight.
Despite the use of composites, in keeping with the design brief, these are suitably rugged and inspire confidence. Both the strap and yellow dial are readily available replacements, although this might be cold comfort if you’re unlucky enough to bust one in the back of beyond.
Ursula is an ideal test rig, on several fronts. Working bike-tick, rough stuff-tick, small compact geometry frameset, tick. Now, I'm pleased to report, mounted on the down tube it hasn’t obscured the seat tube boss. Well, it ruled out traditional bottles bigger than 600ml.
Thankfully, this cage tends to haul a tool and tube caddy, so a moot point –worth measuring and double-checking on smaller framesets, mind. I also have a mini pump running shotgun on the bosses. The OEM screws are hardly stumpy, but I had to go slightly longer to get a secure marriage with it and the brands’ Gravel 2-way pump bracket. In terms of torque settings- 2nms is pretty much right, otherwise, just a question of snug. Talking of bosses, I’d only fit the Modula family (and indeed, similar deigns) to brazed on bosses, not aftermarket band-on mounts, given the proportionally greater loads and twisting forces involved.
I was pleasantly surprised by how securely it held bottles and tumblers of different shapes/sizes. Shape plays its part, but a litre is about the limit, so look elsewhere if you’re wanting to haul a missile-type thermos.
No issues with this Super Sparrow thermos (750ml) when filled to the brim with my choice of diesel strength coffee. I was confident, but reassured to discover it will adjust nicely to fit other bottles, including these voluptuous supermarket Soda Water and tonic waters- perfect for longer summer rides when you want to stop off and pick up something cooling.
The cage’s ease of tunability and rugged strap means there’s no annoying chatter, or fear cargo might launch. Indeed, while I’m really endeared to the 1.5 litre PET designs, they can, be a sloppier fit with some narrower bases/long shaped bottle necks, resulting in some low-level chatter and agitation.
Especially over lumpy lanes and washboard tarmac. No such issues with the Java and I’ve hossed through bridle path and dirt roads with similar confidence. Now, you could forgo the top strap for quick draws and slurp/sip from the saddle, but for the most part, it’s designed to hold everything snug, ready for you to indulge at your destination, or at a rest stop. That said, the strap is quite supple and stretchy-easier to tackle on the fly, than the Modula XL’s. I’ve been able to whip out a soda water bottle and swig from it, although this was dependent upon my glove choice. Either way, the strap and catch strike the sweet spot between tenure and accessibility.
Easy enough for scooting to work with a coffee, sturdy enough for the trail. Continuing the rugged narrative, Extra UK suggests a maximum payload of 1500g lending itself to other lugging duties, although if you were looking to carry camping, or those hobby sized welding gas bottles, I’d point towards the Free Parable Gorilla Clip & Cage .
Nothing gives cause for concern, three months down the line and the availability of spares also inspires confidence. Much will boil down to snugging the bottle screws correctly and not casually exceeding its maximum carrying capacity. Talking of which, I’ve only needed to snug the screws tight after three weeks. If I was embarking a big tour, or endurance event, I might put a drop of thread lock on the screws. Similarly, the occasional lick of silicone polish/protectant to the cage will keep it nourished and looking its best. Otherwise, that’s as involved as things get.
On the one hand, the Modula Java is pretty unusual, so direct comparisons are a little tricky. £12.99 is good going for a cage, full stop. The Free Parable Gorilla Cage II is made from polyamide and comes with its own unique mount system (catering for framesets without bottle mounts).
With a maximum payload of 2.3 kilos will entertain a wealth of things but at £29.99, but it’s a good bit dearer. Their Monkii V cage is also made from polyamide and might be a better bet for very small framesets. I tested the original Monkii Cage back in 2016 and found a lot to like. The Arundel Looney Bin is an adjustable cage and will even manage a bottle of wine. However, at £20.00 it’s still a fair bit dearer than the Topeak Java.
Ultimately, the Topeak Modula Java cage is a practical, solid and versatile model that will cope with bigger loads than coffee on and off road. Topeak Shuttle cage is a more conventional design that will, in my experience carry a 500ml Thermos flask reliably and a good bet for smaller framesets. At the other extreme, those looking towards gravel and bike packing may find models like the Free Parable Gorilla Cage II better choices. Otherwise, the Modula Java bridges these genres nicely and competes on price with standard cages.
Verdict: 3.75/5 Sturdy, versatile cage – not just for hauling coffee.
PUBLISHED MAY 2023
BUILDER OF STEEL CYCLE FRAMES
Ryton On Dunsmore
Coventry CV8 3FH