A Note from Fatty: This "Best of Fatty" post, rescued from my MSN Spaces archive, was originally posted October 13, 2005.
I have a cupboard full of water bottles. I have a couple dozen of these bottles, easily. Most of them came as freebies from events, some of them came as promotional schwag, and I’ve even bought a few of them.
I should just throw all of them out.
Freebie Water Bottles
The problem with the freebie water bottles you get whenever you do a race — or go to a charity event or attend a store opening — is simple: they suck. But they don’t just suck in one way. They suck across a multitude of dimensions. And since I’ve got myself all worked up about this, I may as well get specific:
The plastic taste: Any liquid you put in one of these cheap bottles takes on the taste of low-grade PVC. You can replace that plastic taste by putting in a sports drink, after which any liquid you put in that cheap plastic bottle will take on the taste of the aforementioned sports drink. Now, I’ve owned regular plastic cups before, so I know it’s possible to make a plastic receptacle that doesn’t infuse and dominate my water with its previous content. So why don’t the bottle makers go and reverse-engineer that top-secret plastic cup formula that’s been around since WWII and apply it to their water bottles?
The valve: While the water bottles themselves are made by stingy industrialists who evidently have never checked to see what water tastes like once it’s been in their wares, the makers of the valves are clearly former joke shop employees. When you go to pull the valve open with your teeth so you can take a drink, one of the following is guaranteed to happen:
- The valve will not pull open, no matter how hard you tug.
- The valve will not pull open, and when you tug good and hard, the whole lid will pop off and all the water will pour onto your face and down your jersey.
- The valve will pull open, but when you drink, water will dribble outside the valve while you drink, making it look like you have mouth-control issues. (Please note: the fact that this is the most desirable of the three potential outcomes does not imply it is a favorable outcome.)
The size: Freebie water bottles are made just a little too narrow to fit snugly in a water bottle cage. If you are foolish enough to put one of these water bottles in your cage and go on a ride, it will rattle around until you huck it onto the side of the road in a fit of pique, or it falls out of the cage of its own accord (and, predictably, without you noticing, so that you only later find you have no water at all).
The Best Water Bottles Ever
Water bottles do not have to be lame. I have, at one time, owned a set of three water bottles I loved. Yes, “love” is the word I choose to show my regard for these water bottles. They were made by Cannondale, under the Coda brand. They were oversized, holding about 50% more water than most bottles, so you had to have a wide-open frame to hold them, but two of those bottles would take care of you for a good long ride. They didn’t taste like plastic. They had screw-top lids, so you didn’t get the nasty surprise of going for a drink and getting a faceful of water instead. They had good valves that were neither too tight, but somehow didn’t dribble, even after hundreds of trips through the dishwasher.
I lost one of those bottles somewhere; the other two I actually wore out. Yes, after using these bottles exclusively for about three years, the seams on the bottles tore and I had to chuck them. And meanwhile, Cannondale had stopped making these wonderful bottles, so now I use Specialized bottles, which are actually good in just about every respect — but I wish I could get my hands on oversized ones for the big rides.
A Plea to Event Promoters
In my typical fashion, I haven’t gone out researching to see if there are bottles out there that have a loyal following. If there are, I would happily buy them. And for the race/event promoters who give us both a cheap, useless t-shirt and a cheap, useless water bottle, here’s an idea. Instead of giving us two useless things, pool the money and give us a really good water bottle (I don’t need any more t-shirts this lifetime, thanks). If you do, I promise I will use it all the time, and my water bottle cage will become, in effect, a teeny little billboard for your event.
Wouldn’t that be super?
A Note About Water Bottle Cages
I have no similar grievance about water bottle cages, because I am perfectly happy with my Ciussi bottle cages. Whether road or mountain, these things are great.
PS: Just in case you were wondering, the Fat Cyclist water bottles are made by Specialized. They’re good. (But I still wish they came in bigger sizes)