Profile of bicycle with mismatched bidons against garage wall

Sorting the bidons

During a recent bit of maintenance, I rearranged the bidons on Kuroko, moving one from the seat tube to under the drop tube in order to free up some space in the main triangle. As I noted at the time, the bidon under the drop tube is subject to having a lot more mud and grit splashed into the mouth, and I would be looking for solutions to the problem.

Bicycle in profile with matched but uncovered bidons against garage wall
Kuroko’s unprotected bidons

One of the challenges in fitting Kuroko for water bottles is that her frame is quite small. Not only is the main triangle a tight fit, but there’s very little clearance between the front wheel and the drop tube, even with the new, slightly narrower tires. In fact, at low speeds in tight corners, I have to be careful that my toes don’t bump into the front tire.

Rogues’ gallery

Four grey water bottles, two shorter ones and two longer ones with covered mouths
Two of these things are not like the others

In my quest to find bidons with covered mouths — but without increasing the height — I soon came across the CamelBak Dirt series. They looked ideal: bottles in the same size as what I’ve got on Kuroko, but with covered mouths. I checked the capacity carefully to make sure of the match: 21 oz. Amazon had them in stock in black (dark grey), and so I soon had a matched pair winging its way to my house.

As the picture makes clear, though, the new bottles are significantly taller than the current ones. What I overlooked in my eagerness is the fact the Dirt series are insulated. Normally, this is a good thing. Kuroko’s non-insulated, dark grey bottles quickly heat up on sunny days to the point the water is not refreshing; in fact it’s warmer than body temperature! Unfortunately, as the picture clearly shows, the insulated bottles must be larger on the outside to achieve the same capacity (and CamelBak does not offer a smaller capacity).

Taking a deep breath

Twin bidons on a bicycle frame, with the lower bidon touching the front tire
That’ll be a “no” from me

There was nothing for it but to try the fit. And, as expected (once I saw the larger bottle size), there’s just not enough room under the drop tube — much as I like the look.

So how about putting one of the new lids, with the covered mouth, onto the current bottle? That works just fine. Running with mismatched bottles, on the other hand — sacrilege!

Profile of bicycle with mismatched bidons against garage wall

This would also imply drinking from the lower bottle first, at least on hot, sunny days, before the water warms up. The insulated bottle above should remain cool for a couple of hours longer at least.


And so now I’m faced with a number of choices:

  • Ignore the derision of the Velominati and continue with mismatched bidons.
  • Swap the lid for the other bidon as well and have matched, non-insulated bidons with protected mouths.
  • Move the spare bidon to the fork (plenty of mounting points, but resulting in asymmetry — unless I mount a third bidon … ) or a handlebar mount.
  • Move the tire pump to another location, thus freeing up space in the main triangle for two insulated, “Dirt” series bidons.

I’m sure other options will occur to me as I allow this thought to fester …

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