Bring back iconic 1940s Coloral cycling bottles

Kickstarter campaign to resurrect classic drink flask

by John Stevenson   July 4, 2013  

Coloral Project 1

Look at any photos or watch any video of cycle racing from the 40s and 50s and there’s one common piece of equipment almost everyone used: an aluminium drinking flask with a cork stopper. A group of designers and cyclists is trying to bring back one of the most popular flask designs, originally made in Birmingham by the Coloral Company.

The original Coloral bottles deserve the status of a design classic for their elegance and simplicity. They cost four shillings and six pence and had a fluted alloy body, cork stopper, ridged cap, elegant logo and ‘Coloral Birmingham’ manufacturing stamp on the base.

Coloral made bottles from 1947 until the company folder in 1954, a brief British success in the post-war manufacturing boom, killed by cheaper imports and plastic alternatives.

Last summer a group of cycling enthusiasts, no known as the the Coloral Project, began to investigate the history of the Coloral Company of Birmingham. But after an exhaustive search, they turned up no new information. All that remains, it seems, are the bottles and cages. Originals in good conditions can fetch three-figure prices from collectors.

A manufacturer is found

The Coloral Project folks eventually visited the origial home of Coloral in Steward Street, Birmingham in their search for information. There they met father and son David and Chris Beeching who run a metalwork factory, one of the few specialist steel spinning factories left in the UK.

The Beechings had never heard of Coloral, but they showing the Coloral Project team round their factory and explained the process of how the Coloral bottle could have been made back in the 1940s.

A plan was hatched: to recreate the Coloral bottle in the same street where the original was made, and to bring it bang up to date. CAD programs were fired up and 3D printers turned out prototypes.

The Coloral 2.0 bottle will be made of food-grade stainless steel and will fit a modern bottle cage. Original Coloral flasks were small by modern standards. The bottle top will be made from FSC certified cork, sourced directly from Portugal and they are identical to the originals with ridged metal caps and printed Coloral logos.

The Coloral Project team is using Kickstarter to get things moving. They need £75,000 for custom tooling and materials to produce the first 2,000 bottles.

They say: “If we can achieve that kick-start we are confident we can generate the momentum required to bring back the Coloral Company as a UK specialist-manufacturing brand for the long term.”

Take a look at the Kickstarter page for more, and here’s the rather lovel accompanying video:

20 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

They are an iconic and beautiful piece of design and rightly collectors items. But sadly I think they just won't be bought in any great number for use on the bike. They require 2 hands to take a drink and will scratch very easily in alloy bottle cages - and be more prone to falling out over a pothole. I'm all in favour of durable, long lasting products like this instead of polyurethane disposable things but can't see who will buy them given their limitations.

Perhaps the design would be better suited as a tool holder/storage solution like one of these:

http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Models.aspx?ModelID=16400&PartnerID=2812&utm_source=Awin&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=generic&_$ja=tsid:41244|cgn:awin|kw:85386&awc=2698_1372954448_250ce2fb66f4aa71f7d5b837f3153adb

Now, how do I get on Kickstarter.....?

posted by ptun74 [2 posts]
4th July 2013 - 17:16

like this
Like (7)

Made of aluminum and toxin free at the same time? Somebody must have missed some medical and scientific data...

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [176 posts]
4th July 2013 - 17:16

like this
Like (7)

Aluminium CAP, the bottle is stainless with a cork stopper.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [409 posts]
4th July 2013 - 17:20

like this
Like (6)

They spent a year redesigning and only made 2 small changes? Did I miss something?

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [294 posts]
4th July 2013 - 17:26

like this
Like (3)

It looks nice, but doesn't have a place anymore, because it requires two hands to open and close it.

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
4th July 2013 - 18:05

like this
Like (6)

I for one think is great and it will not take much for them to design a 3.0 which has a sipper lid. check out this ones for more nice SS bottles

http://www.kleankanteen.com

I for one hate the taste of plastic bottles and am off to invest...

posted by Nzlucas [88 posts]
4th July 2013 - 18:31

like this
Like (7)

Looks cool. Would be great for a cycling event planner to use these as cups. Capital Cycles

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
4th July 2013 - 18:34

like this
Like (4)

Gkam84 wrote:
It looks nice, but doesn't have a place anymore, because it requires two hands to open and close it.

We got round that problem by drilling the cork stopper and inserting a plastic tube long enough to be able to drink from riding on the drops, ah those early 'fifties'.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [923 posts]
4th July 2013 - 19:27

like this
Like (8)

I use kleankanteens and they are great - easy to clean, no taint, and will last forever.

I'll have one of these.

posted by localsurfer [160 posts]
5th July 2013 - 7:17

like this
Like (5)

Give it a threaded neck to fit a "sports" cap with a nozzle and I'd get one...

matt_fantastic's picture

posted by matt_fantastic [73 posts]
5th July 2013 - 8:37

like this
Like (7)

matt_fantastic wrote:
Give it a threaded neck to fit a "sports" cap with a nozzle and I'd get one...

Given you cant squeeze the bottle how would you drink from that exactly, apart from sip on the trickle that would dribble out Thinking

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [409 posts]
5th July 2013 - 9:14

like this
Like (7)

75 grand to manufacture a water bottle seems a lot to me...how much would they have to sell for to make that nmoeny back?

Definately a market in the retro hipster scene, but are there enough people in that to make this work?

I'm all for choice though so good luck to them, a nice looking bottle for sure

posted by StoopidUserName [25 posts]
5th July 2013 - 9:37

like this
Like (4)

STATO wrote:
matt_fantastic wrote:
Give it a threaded neck to fit a "sports" cap with a nozzle and I'd get one...

Given you cant squeeze the bottle how would you drink from that exactly, apart from sip on the trickle that would dribble out Thinking


Tip and suck, same as with any other metal bottle? The scratching problem mentioned earlier is easily overcome with plastic- coated cages too. What's going on? This sire is usually filled with bike tech fans.

posted by a.jumper [679 posts]
5th July 2013 - 9:47

like this
Like (5)

These look great. I'm sure there are some vintage riders who'd snap these up for their bikes for an authentic look.

Personally I think they look quite stylish and would adorn my cocktail side board quite nicely....my only question would be price.

£75,000/2000 = £37.50 which seems a bit steep, and that's without a profit (I would say Rapha-esque - but I can hear the blood hounds baying). If these could be produced for c.£15-20 I'm sure they would fly like hot cakes.

Antonio - is this your baby?

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1060 posts]
5th July 2013 - 10:41

like this
Like (5)

£75,000 for custom tooling and materials to produce the first 2,000

After that, they get cheaper. There's your profit.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [240 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:30

like this
Like (5)

Absolutely beautiful. Want now. Refuse to wait.

*waits*

www.vulpine.cc
@aslongasicycle
@vulpinecc

aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [288 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:54

like this
Like (4)

Any idea of the price? With inflation, Four and Six in 1950 comes out to around £4.25.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th July 2013 - 12:52

like this
Like (8)

The kickstarter has bottle priced at £50, compared to the cleen-canteen price of around $35ish? Seems like a reasonable price for the 'UK made and retro' sticker.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [409 posts]
5th July 2013 - 13:01

like this
Like (6)

Nowadays we call those things "straws"

posted by DrJDog [77 posts]
5th July 2013 - 16:19

like this
Like (4)

Now if someone would re-issue the "Hercules" jerseys I'd be a happy man.

posted by Pauldmorgan [154 posts]
6th July 2013 - 8:16

like this
Like (6)