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The Vel Race Cage is a winged design, available in 12 colours – pretty much something for everyone and their paint jobs. Those with deeper pockets looking to trim every last bit of fat from their bikes will probably want to go the carbon route, but for general bidon bearing duties this composite cage hits all the right notes.
All the Race Cages are painted and lacquered for a really rich, glossy effect. At 34g each, they shouldn't offend most folk and in fact are comparable with some carbon fare, including this one from GT, commanding three times as much. Compared with some mid-range carbon composite examples I use, the Vel feels reassuringly sturdy – stiffer too.
Winged style cages have been with us for a good decade or so. Aesthetics aside,the theory goes that these retain the bottle better, without hindering access. I've also found them more user-friendly than other shapes when fitted behind the saddle, triathlon/TT style.
As you'd imagine, riders of very small or compact geometry framesets might find side-entry or adjustable designs, such as Lezyne's Flow SL and Topeak's Shuttle, more practical.
The cage comes complete with screws for mounting, although I installed our with a mini-pump, so plumped for longer, aftermarket offerings.
So far, the Vel has accommodated all standard bottles, including the Relaj Shape, with comparable finesse.
I also loaded it with a very old and super-hefty lead acid bottle battery, just to see how it would cope with 500g or so. About 20 miles of washboard tarmac and relatively smooth forest trails didn't induce any annoying chatter let alone ejections.
The song remained unchanged when it was fed a Bontrager storage bottle brimming with bits.
Perhaps it was several months' continuous use of Lezyne's SL, but I've a tendency to retrieve bottles at an angle, especially those on the seat tube bosses.
Release has been marginally faster than conical models, such as the Tacx Deva, which is helpful when tiredness is beginning to bite.
Though hardly the highest priority, its glossy finish is also very easy to keep clean, and shows no signs of damage despite being struck by small stones on a number of occasions.
All told, there's little to dislike here. Carbon has an edge weight-wise if you're trying to save every last gram, but otherwise the Vel Race Cage blends form, function and sensible pricing.
Well-designed cage that combines cosmetic allure, great performance and sensible pricing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Vel Race Cage
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for
Vel says, "Want to match your bikes paint job or just stand out from the crowd? Then choose the VEL race cage."
I'd say it's a good quality cage, compatible with a broad range of standard and unusual bottle patterns. As an aside, it's sufficiently rigid for old fashioned bottle batteries too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Race Cage is produced from VEL's composite resin, painted and lacquered with a high gloss finish.
Designed to fit all bikes and standard water bottles.
* High gloss white finish with VEL logo
* Fits standard sized bottles
* Includes mounting bolts
Seems well made and nicely finished.
Side-entry models with left/right specific ergonomics arguably have the edge, but the Vel does everything I would expect from a standard cage.
Looks sturdy, long-term exposure to extremes of weather may induce fatigue, but I can't see that being an issue for most riders and general riding.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Vel cage has performed impeccably, with a broad range of bottle shapes and weights. Purchase strikes the sweet spot between secure tenure and easy release. Finish quality also seems durable and pricing is also about right. For generic bidon bearing, there's little to dislike.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Colour, weight, pricing and widely compatible with standard and more unique patterns.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Definitely
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Good weight, reasonably priced and does the job well – plus it's available in a refreshingly broad range of colours.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)