Summer seemed to arrived early this year in Melbourne, which meant encountering two problems somewhat sooner than expected: arriving at Flinders Station feeling thirsty, and leaving work and almost immediately feeling parched.
Surely there must be an easy way to take a water bottle with me so I can solve these issues?
Of course I would hardly be the first person to find myself in this situation, so I put the following to the Melbourne Brompton Club members on Facebook: “I need a drink bottle holder that I can use single-handed[ly] while riding. Any recommendations?”
Nick, from Brompton Australia, was first to reply and suggested the Monkii Cage. (Despite having seen these in Velo Electric & Folding previously, I thought I’d ask around for other options first.) The suggestions offered were:
– a Monkii Cage
– a TwoFish Quick Cage
– changing ‘my’ Brompton Game Bag for a front bag with a pocket with a pocket for water bottle
– or one of these:
Given I hadn’t immediately leapt for the Monkii Cage option, Nick offered to loan me his to try – with the proviso that I write a review of it. Fair enough.
Within a few days it had arrived – and perfect timing too, given the next few days were predicted to be quite warm (around 30oC).
Now all set to conveniently carry a water bottle, I was ready to ride the whole way to work!
Here I should also mention that Nick had used his Monkii Cage on a long ride once previously. Everyone expects brand new things to work well, but I was very interested to see how the Monkii Cage performed over time.
Attaching the Monkii Cage was very simple with my Brompton tool kit. It’s designed to fit around the narrow part of your front stem. Here it’s both a convenient place to grab your bottle from, and there’s just enough room to work with most Brompton bags while your Brommie is folded (in shopping trolley mode). The tightest fit is with the Brompton folding basket – it’s probably better to remove your bottle before folding in this case. As you can see below, there’s just not quite enough room for the handle to fit below the cage and it’s the bottle that gets shoved out.
When it comes to folding your Brompton, having the Monkii Cage attached does require a slight change of grip to fold back the front wheel. Obvious? Perhaps. But it took me a go or two to figure that out.
The other thing I had assumed was that the water bottle would stay attached in the Monkii Cage when I folded my Brompton. Unfortunately this is not so.
Once everything is attached, to take a drink you simply slide the bottle – while still in the cage – off the cleats with a little pull upwards. Easy!
So far the only disappointment was that I couldn’t leave the bottle attached when I folded my Brompton.
As far as I can tell from the maker’s website (freeparable.com) the Monkii Cage’s we import here to Australia are the original design. Their other designs may be more secure and stay on the cleats when the handle bars are being folded.
When riding, Nick had advised me to make sure that the bottle holder is attached to both cleats. The angle of the Brompton’s front stem while riding means the cleats are tilted back towards the rider and it can be easy to miss the bottom cleat.
Despite this warning, despite being overtly conscious of needing to engage both cleats… I’ve lost my bottle. A few times.
The first two times I was ready to blame user error, but all subsequent losses were definitely not.
My concerns with the bottle and cage being jarred off the cleats due to bumps in the road/trail is about more than just the inconvenience of having to stop and retrieve your bottle; it’s that the fallen bottle may cause a hazard to other riders following closely behind you, or potentially the top of your water bottle coming off on impact and spilling out all your water.
Ok, I need a better water bottle, but it would have fallen off regardless – and I wasn’t going particularly fast.
Of course I don’t always ride the whole way to work (a Brompton’s good like that), so what has the addition of a Monkii Cage meant for mixed transport commuting?
Answer: not much. It takes a few extra seconds at the tram/train station to slip the bottle into my bag or re-attach it when it’s time to ride again. It’s a little trickier when I’m using the Mini O and don’t have enough room to fit the water bottle in it with everything else I stash in there, but most of my riding is done with a larger bag.
The only adjustment needed after a week of riding with the Monkii Cage was the addition of a small piece of rubber to pad out where it attaches to my front stem. I didn’t want to over-tighten the screw holding the cleats on, but it was not sitting snugly as it should. Luckily for me Cory had a scrap piece of rubber at Velo and had it fixed in no time. (If you’re doing this, just watch that the two hinge pins stay in place. Both of mine wanted to slip out when we were adjusting it.)
Can I use it with one hand when riding? Yes, but I prefer to take a drink when stopped at a set of traffic lights or when I don’t have to focus on the bike path too much.
Is it easy to fit on your Brompton? Yes, it’s very easy to install (especially if you have a Brompton tool kit – and why wouldn’t you?).
Is the Monkii Cage the solution to my problem? Well, it’s a solution, but…
Would I buy one? I’d investigate one of the other Monkii Cage designs (with L or V cleat designs) rather than the original one tested here, as repeated use seems to make it easier for the cage (and bottle) to be jarred off the cleats. I’m not sure whether the other cleat designs will hold a bottle on a folded Brompton or not, which was the other disappointment I had with this product.