Modern bikes have been equipped with 2 sets of water bottle (biddon) cage mounts (braze-ons) for many years. They are traditionally located on the down tube and seat tube. However this was not always the case. Steel frame bikes of yesteryear typically only featured one bottle cage mount on the down tube as you can see in this early 1970’s Colnago Eddy Merckx frame below. This design ethos raised some questions.
1. Why only provide one bottle cage mount on vintage steel road bikes?
After a quick scan on the internet, I found an article in Wikipedia discussing bottle cages on bicycles. Interestingly this article included the following piece of information in the History section;
Until the 1960s, cyclists often carried a second bottle on the handlebars, held by a bottle cage fixed to the handlebars themselves and by a third point to the handlebar stem. Such bottle cages are familiar from pictures of the Tour de France. Riders had a cage there rather than have two on the frame, where the centre of gravity is lower, because at the time the Tour’s rules insisted that riders carry a pump. The pump took up the length of one frame tube and made a second bottle cage on the frame impossible.
So it appears Colnago designed all their steel road bikes around the need to carry a frame mounted pump. This requirement made sense for recreational cyclists as well.
Below is an example of an early 1980’s Colnago bike with a frame pump fitted in front of the seat post, thereby negating the possibility of fitting a second water bottle cage to the seat post.
We can assume there were no mini-pumps or CO2 inflators back then, so a full sized hand pump wouldn’t fit into your jersey. If you ran out of water, you just had to stop and refill at some point.
I guess the pro’s were able to get extra drinks from support vehicles, spectators etc, but the recreational cyclists had to know where the water stops were along the ride. Thankfully in modern times we have the luxury of riding much further and can have one bottle with sports drink and the other with water. It would be interesting to hear from people who rode with one bottle ‘back in the day’, how they handled this in the comments section below.
2. When was the Second Bottle Cage added?
Scanning through all my Colnago catalogues, it appears the 1989 catalog was the first to feature their road bike frames with a braze-on mount situated on the seat post, for a second water bottle cage. This was a Colnago’s 35th Anniversary catalog and also featured a change from traditional curved forks to the new Precisa straight leg fork.
It may be possible that frames prior to 1989 were custom ordered / built with a second water bottle cage mount on the seat post for the very forward thinking consumer.
Pre-1989 Arabesque Touring Frame
The 1986 Colnago catalog featured a rather unusual Arabesque road bike fitted with panniers (called a Raid) and this frame is pictured with braze-on mounts on the seat tube for a second drink bottle cage. I guess there was space to fit a pump in the rear bags.
It seems the idea for a second drink bottle on the seat tube was around for a long time, but the practicalities of carrying a pump delayed it’s implementation for a long time.
I have been riding and working on my own bikes for many years now. I wanted to share my experiences, knowledge and research with others. My aim is to inspire people to get involved in all aspects of this amazing sport. Cheers.
I welcome reader feedback in the comments section. Should you wish to suggest an amendment, please include a note advising the source of your information so that myself and other readers can ascertain the accuracy of your information. Note: Trolling or argumentative comments will be removed as they are counter-productive.