December 2016 Product Picks: Smith Optics, Bontrager, Edco 3ax, Bar Fly, Fix-It Sticks, Tacx, and Wind-Blox

by James Huang

December 7, 2016

Photography by James Huang

In this month’s edition of Product Picks, U.S. technical editor James Huang provides his feedback on Smith Optics’ latest lens technology, some budget-minded footwear from Bontrager, a novel pedal concept from Edco 3ax, Bar Fly’s latest two-in-one gadget, Fix-It Sticks’ innovative take on the lowly multi-tool, Tacx’s stylish water bottle and cage, and a neat idea from Wind-Blox to keep wind noise at bay.


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Tacx Deva bottle cage and Shanti bottle

by James Huang

Better-known in the European markets, Tacx is a major player in the bottle-and-cage segment with heaps of styles, materials, and shapes from which to choose. The Deva is one of the company’s newer models for road bikes, featuring a tidy dual-arm, wraparound design and lots of colors.

Tacx makes a true carbon-fiber version of the Deva — the Deva Carbon — for riders who want to go a little fancier, but I opted for the more reasonably priced version made of fiber-reinforced plastic. Actual weight is 30g, which is right inline with most carbon fiber cages.

The matching Tacx Shanti bottle fits perfectly with the Deva cage (as it should), but isn't a match for better options.

The matching Tacx Shanti bottle fits perfectly with the Deva cage (as it should), but isn’t a match for better options.

Accompanying the Deva cage is the Shanti bottle, made of dishwasher-safe plastic and featuring a screw-on top, a self-sealing membrane (so you don’t have to open and shut the valve every time you want to take a drink), and a lockable top so your travel bag isn’t soaking in sticky drink mix by the time to get to the start of your next ride.

The Shanti is offered in a rainbow of colors, and in both 500mL and 750mL sizes.

Our Take:

The Deva cage looks sleek and modern, aided further by the neat two-tone finish; chances are very good that you’ll be able to find one that nicely complements the rest of your bike.

The Tacx Deva bottle cage uses a familiar design with two arms that wrap around the bottle. It works well on smoother roads in terms of keeping a hold of bottles, but not so much on rougher terrain.

The Tacx Deva bottle cage uses a familiar design with two arms that wrap around the bottle. It works well on smoother roads in terms of keeping a hold of bottles, but not so much on rougher terrain.

Being light and looking good are secondary functions of a bottle cage, however. First and foremost, it needs to faithfully hold onto your bottles over a variety of terrain without being too difficult to use, and here the Deva falls a bit flat.

It’s easy to get bottles in and out, but I found the medium-strength hold lacking on rough roads where the Deva unceremoniously ejected its contents on more than one occasion. Riders who limit themselves to decent asphalt probably won’t have any issues, but those who regularly stray off the beaten path, onto dirt and gravel, may want to look elsewhere.

The self-sealing valve lets you just pull the bottle out and take a swig of fluid without opening up the top (similar to what's offered by Specialized and Camelbak), and it can be kept shut by rotating the top. The bottle is hard to squeeze, though, and the valve doesn't allow fluid to flow through as quickly as the competition.

The self-sealing valve lets you just pull the bottle out and take a swig of fluid without opening up the top (similar to what’s offered by Specialized and Camelbak), and it can be kept shut by rotating the top. The bottle is hard to squeeze, though, and the valve doesn’t allow fluid to flow through as quickly as the competition.

The matching Shanti bottle was more of a disappointment. The self-sealing valve and lockable top are neat, but the bottle itself is harder to squeeze than competing bottles — from Specialized and Camelbak, in particular. The valve also doesn’t allow liquid to flow through as quickly as I would have preferred, and the screw-top opening is too small for most of the drink mix scoops that I tried, making the task messier than it should be.

In summary: not bad, but not good enough.

Price: US$20 / AU$25 / £13 (Tacx Deva bottle cage)
Price: US$12 / AU$TBC / £10 (Tacx Shanti bottle, 500cc)
www.tacx.com


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