VEL SE (SIDE ENTRY) BOTTLE CAGE
The Vel SE bottle cage is, as it name suggests, a side-entry model that can be positioned left, or right to suit the rider’s dominant hand.
Less aesthetically alluring and slightly heavier than some, the SE is very well made. However, its pricey compared with some well-established composite competition. It is also best suited to bikes, with braze-on bottle bosses, rather than band-on type adaptors.
Pros: Well made, secure, easily converted to suit left/right handed users.
Cons: Single colour option, best suited to frames with bosses, rather than band-on adaptors.
Side entry designs were originally conceived to overcome the problem of carrying two, trade-size bottles in the main triangle, of small semi/compact geometry road and mountain bike frames. The option of mounting Vel's SE bottle cages left/right, to suit the riders dominant hand is another form of customisation.
Admittedly, satin black is the only colour option and may prove a turn off for some but is unlikely to clash and keeps costs down. Unlike most I’ve used, the SE is not a monocoque (one piece) design, nor is it made from an engineering grade plastic.
It’s a two-piece design, meaning you simply flick the aluminium alloy spine/bracket round (depending on whether you’re left/right handed) then bolt the composite, cage in situ. This does add a few grams but provides a more rigid platform, which is apparent when snatching bottles forcefully, or carrying a bottle battery for high powered lighting.
To date, the Vel has accommodated all standard bottles and more quirky patterns, such as the Relaj shape with similar finesse. Gunslinger quick draws were less intuitive than Lezyne’s flow (below), to begin with (Much to the amusement of riding companions)
Something I attribute to the materials, rather than shape. This levelled out, during the first forty miles. To the point where I could slip, an 800ml bottle in/out at 30mph along 1in7 descents, effortlessly.
These designs should free up space in the main triangle. A moot point with the Holdsworth and gravel/cross fixed. However, I have often caught my knuckles against the Univega’s top tube, when retrieving 750ml trade bottles from conventional cages.
By the same token, and staying with the tubby tourer, there’s been no hint of annoying chatter, let alone mortar-esque bottle ejection with conventional, BPE free bottles, or old school lead acid/NiCad bottle batteries.
Even when I’ve been belting along unmade roads at 20mph. Replicating these riding contexts and switching to this stainless-steel Elite Deboyo, revealed some very minor, audible vibration but well within acceptable limits.
Annoying and arguably top entry models are the default, on an old fashioned, horizontal geometry frameset. Nonetheless, something to bear in mind, if you’re planning on using these on a track, or 'cross frame with only one set.
It’s not the lightest and seems quite expensive alongside composite competition. The single colour option may also prove a deal-breaker for some.