Review : The BikeBuddy

Overall Rating:      (5/5)     Highly Recommended

MK3 BikeBuddy

We are very excited to use our BikeBuddy’s to securely mount ½ gallon bottles on our frames and also to carry up to 1.0 liter (33oz) fuel bottles underneath the down tubes on our bikes without any fear of vibrations and road shock dislodging any of them.

The MK3 “quick release” version (as shown in photo to left) works as so:

The spring-loaded carrier is wrapped around the bottle and then the whole assembly is mounted via tapered keyholes (friction) to a couple of tapered bolts screwed into the water bottle bosses.  Friction resulting from the two tapered surfaces (of the bottle carrier and the studs) contacting each other hold everything firmly in place – a truly elegant solution.  The carrier is never removed from the bottle – the whole assembly (bottle and carrier) comes off – so the only things left on the bike when the bottle is removed are the two small studs.  BikeBuddy’s are available in two other versions but we think the MK3 is the ultimate expression of the design.

One note for anyone interested in utilizing the BikeBuddy carrying system:  the particular combination of the size of your frame, the unique placement/position of your water bottle bosses and the size/shape of the container(s) you wish to carry must be factored together prior to purchase.  The reason for this is that although the BikeBuddy system itself is quite versatile, in that it can be inherently modified to fit lots of different setups, there are limitations.

For instance, you can see from the image below of Kai’s setup, that he utilizes two BikeBuddy’s – one mounted on the topside of his down tube and the other underneath.  The placement of his bike’s bosses so low in the main triangle limits the practicality of a third BikeBuddy mounted on the “leading edge” of the seat tube.  Of course, this works for Kai since he wants the ability to drink from a bottle while cycling and so he has installed a Klean Kanteen cage in this position (to house a .80L (27oz) Klean Kanteen).  This combination – one 1.9L (64oz) bottle and one .80L (27oz) ounce water bottle – essentially “maxes-out” the storage capability inside his bike’s main triangle since the large diameter of the 1.9L (64oz) bottle does not permit a bottle bigger than 27oz to mounted on the seat tube, no matter how the BikeBuddy’s are positioned/installed.  Since there are all kinds of options for cages to fit 27oz or smaller bottles there is no real reason to install a third BikeBuddy, particularly since the BikeBuddy system is not designed to allow the cyclist while in motion to drink from a bottle carried in a BikeBuddy.

However, just the ability to safely secure such a large bottle on the frame makes the BikeBuddy more than worth while.  Utilizing the BikeBuddy’s, we can each safely carry 2.7 liters of potable water (91oz total) and up to 1.0 liters (33oz) of fuel utilizing just the three sets of conventional water bottle bosses.  Of course, allowances could be made during a custom frame building process vis a vis placement of the bosses or one could make use of the clamp-on MK1 version to allow even higher capacity storage/transport within the confines of frame of a bicycle.

 http://www.bikebuddy.co.uk/

We’ll be sure to update our reviews of products as we begin to use them regularly.  Ratings may change over time.

[We are not paid to review products and have not received any gifts from any manufacturer or vendor in this post.  If we ever do receive freebies or compensation, we will disclose that information, but in reality, it will have no effect on our reviews.  We are extremely picky, hold everything we purchase to high standards, and will be, forever, brutally honest about the quality of a product and/or a company’s customer service.  Our sole intention is to inform other consumers about our experiences with products and companies. ]

10 comments to Review : The BikeBuddy

  • Carl Rubin

    Hi Guys: I’ve also corresponded with the Bike Buddy guy for an off road touring frame I’ve having built (most likely by Rodriguez–also a Rohloff model). I asked him if one tours 50% off road (dirt/some single track), will the MK3 model situated on lower down tube (where you’ve got your fuel bottle) have a tendency to bounce off. In an abudance of caution, he recommended the fixed model; but I like the idea of removing the whole works to use the bottle rather than release the spring. Have you had any rattles or accidental releases when riding off tarmac, on ripio, etc.? Prefer the MK3 but need it to be rock solid/secure. Thanks in advance for any thoughts/real world experience.

    • Kai

      Carl – Thanks for your question! We love our BikeBuddys! We’ve got two MK3’s installed per bike and have never once had any of the quick release carriers separate (or even begin to separate) from the studs. None of them makes a peep by way of rattling, squeaking, or otherwise – they are all completely silent.

      The roughest road we’ve encountered to date was the un-maintained section that extends west from Bahia de Gonzaga (Gonzaga Bay) to Federal Highway 1 in Baja California. The road was very poor, consisting as it did of steep gullies, sand traps, lots of ledge, and a varicose surface comprised of sand, gravel and loose fist- to cantaloupe-sized (and larger) rocks. Most of the road (except the ~8 mile section nearest to the highway) was ungraded (which is actually the only thing that made it possible to ride – had it been graded it would have been bottomless sand) which resulted in three long days of bouncing and jarring progress to make it the full ~75km. Our full fuel bottles (1 ltr and .5 ltr) and our two full 1/2 gallon Kleen Kanteen bottles – all fastened to our bike using MK3’s – never once budged. Likewise, out on the open road, high-speed jarring events like inadvertently riding over an uneven bridge joint at 30mph or diving into a hidden pothole have done nothing to dislodge the MK3’s either. I can’t foresee an event – short of a high-speed collision – that would compromise the key-hole interface between the studs and the carrier (and even then you’ve got other things to worry about). The other great thing with our MK3’s is the quick release feature. Without this interface, it would be a hassle to remove and reattach a bottle – especially if mounted under the down tube. The springs that wrap around the bottle don’t offer much in the way of purchase and can be tricky to install even when the MK3 carrier-body is in your hand. Were it instead attached full-time to the bike (as in the case of the MK1 and MK2), some contortions would be be necessary to take a bottle on and off. And since we remove and re-install our MK3’s multiple times a day, this would complicate the process of drinking water or setting up the stove. Its also nice to be able to easily take the bottles and their attached carriers off the bikes quickly and easily when we arrive in a town – the only evidence of the Bikebuddys remaining on the bikes then are the studs. This makes for a cleaner look and a lighter bike for running errands. Based upon our particular use, we wholeheartedly recommend the MK3 version.

      The only other advice we’d offer relates to your choice of a Rohloff. We’ve had nothing but problems with Sheila’s and have been in touch with many other heavy-loaded tourers who likewise have experienced major problems with their’s, all relatively early on in their travels. We are putting together a review regarding our tribulations that will detail the mechanical failure, the unrealistic repair process that follows-on from owning a proprietary technology, the incredibly poor customer service response we initially received and the total brushoff that occurred following our pleading for relief. We are no longer recommending the Rohloff for heavy loaded touring and are considering ultimately either converting Sheila’s existing bike to a conventional transmission (thank goodness we decided to retain the rear derailleur hanger!) or ebay’ing the frame and the Rohloff to help fund the purchase of a new frameset that utilizes same. We know of two recent instances of people (heavy loaded tourors) swapping their transmissions from Rohloff to conventional.

  • Carl Rubin

    Dear Kai: many thanks for taking the time to reply re: the MK3–it’s now on the shopping list (2 actually per your set-up). Re: the Rohloff, I’m stunned and really bummed to hear about your troubles with that bit of kit. I’ve been willing (to date) to fork out the extra dosh on it (and the frame and the ecc bottom bracket) in hopes of eliminating trouble on the road. I’ll be monitoring your blog to get the full write up on the failure and lack of support. When you do your review, I’m hopeful you’ll add a ballpark estimate of total weight carried on the Rohloff bike (w/o water which I peg at approx 1Kilo per litre) and perhaps an estimate of how much weight rides on the rear; plus a note re: the no. of teeth on the rear cog (understanding per your bike build section that she runs a 38T up front. (Assume you’ve got something like a 16T in the rear? I only ask to try and eliminate Rohloff’s claim that they will not support certain gear ratios). Most sorry to hear of your drive train troubles and looking forward to learning from your experience before I make final decisions. Good luck with the fix and safe travels. I really enjoy your website–particularly the gear reviews! Carl

  • Tom Pellegrino

    Hi Kai,

    Congratulations on your awesome adventures! Been a while since I had thought of you, then I googled “bicycle large water bottle storage” and your website popped up.

    I have started trying to do long distance rides, and randonneur events (time limited, non-competitive long distance rides, did my first 200K:) And I wanted to carry a camelbak size water load, but not on my back.

    On your suggestion, I bought 2 MK3s from England and they have been wonderful! I set them up with 2 1.5 liter plastic nalgene bottles, effectively doubling my on-bike water carriage.

    On the bottle on the downtube I drilled a hole in the cap and fitted a camelbak drink hose, so I can take a quick sip without dismounting.

    Anyway, hope you’re doing well, and having a beautiful time. You are always invited to stop by if you pass through Portland.

    Safe Riding,

    Tom Pellegrino

    • Kai

      Tom! My former partner in crime! I was just taking a cold shower after running errands on my bicycle when it dawned on me that I had neglected to respond to your comment. We’re so busy on the road that sometimes I overlook important stuff like this. So, my sincere apologies for the belated reply – but also so great to hear from you! Love how you found your way back here and that you’ve also patronized (and are now singing the praises of) BikeBuddy. We love ours too and have been super impressed with how well they work, how robust they are (three years and still going strong) and generally what a great idea they are. But enough about that. You rode a 200km rando?!?! This is awesome news! Sheila and I are super impressed (and more than a wee bit jealous!). If you’re doing distances like that its already too late for you – you’re deep into the exquisite madness that is cycling. It goes without saying that I’m glad we’re all in the same club! And brilliant mod on the Nalgene bottle – I bet there are more than a few onlookers who have already borrowed the concept. There’s definitely a soft spot in my heart for the brevet and rando riders out there. After all, that’s cycling as it should be and I look forward to the day when the big tours return to their roots and re-embrace the principles that they were founded on. So, just know that I’m in awe of your cycling and that I wish you all the best! 🙂

  • wza24

    Hi,

    Is there any info, what’s the maximum frame diameter for MK1 to fix on the bike frame? I’m planning lower holder for fuel bottle, but the bike frame is definitely thicker than standard diameter. Unfortunately, there’s no holder fixing points in the lower part of the frame.

    Alternative solution I’m considering is to order MK2 + Klickfix Bottle Klick system? http://www.klickfix.de/images/downloads/bedbotk.pdf

    Br,
    Valter

  • Hello Kai & Sheila,

    we were looking for a clean, secure and long lasting way to carry our big SS Klean Kanteen bottles for our heavy loaded off-road expeditions and we just found the set up we needed in your thorough review. Well done !!

    We´d like to ask you a few questions about the rohloff advice you gave to Carl as we are going to buy two new bikes and we still hesitate if it is worth going the expensive way when we are planning to travel far from the one and only place where they can fix anything going wrong.

    So, could you please tell us what kind of problems did you have or are you having with Sheila’s rohloff? Have you just had bad luck with your unit or do you still think that this is a recurring problem for heavy loaded trips?

    After all these years travelling with a rohloff and a derailleur transmission, does the rohloff hub really pay back the big initial investment with less maintenance and ease of use?

    We have almost the same questions for the Son Schmidt dynamo hub because we have always carried battery powered lights for our trips as we try to avoid cycling we it gets dark and we wonder what are your thoughts about that.

    Do you regret at any point not having installed it from the the beginning? Do you think that this may be another source of failures not easy to solve on the ground as it happens with the rohloff hub?

    Thank you very much for your time to answer and best regards from Spain.

    • Kai

      Yonatham – Glad to know that the BikeBuddy fits your needs; we certainly love ours!

      Now, regarding your questions about our experience with Sheila’s Rohloff, I will start by saying that we are not alone in our experience. We located a disturbing number of other fully-loaded tourers that struggled with problems very similar to ours. And its quite likely that in the intervening period since we sought those folks out there have been others. So, were we to do it again we would not have purchased a Rohloff. We would instead have gone with a conventional transmission. And given that the problems we’ve experienced with Sheila’s Rohloff were compounded dramatically by a) the fact that as you rightfully describe the Speedhub is a proprietary technology and that no one but a few locations in the entire world can work on them and b) that Rohloff’s customer service was among the worst we’ve ever experienced we couldn’t even really recommend a Rohloff for local commuting. One of these days we’ll find the time to writie an entire blog post detailing the timeline and ultimate outcome of our troubles. But for now, if I were you, I’d steer clear of utilizing a Speedhub.

      OK, I’ll let on a little bit. Let’s just say that the straw that broke the camels back was having to foot the bill (after having earlier being forced to re-lace Sheila’s rear wheel) for what was undeniably a Rohloff obligation (which they denied) to the tune of close to what we paid for the hub in the first place (keeping in mind that we purchased ours direct from Germany at a total cost of under US$1000). That one event, something that we would have expected to occur after forty thousand miles of hard use but that happened to ours after less then three thousand miles, ended any love affair that we’d had with the hub and made us realize the complete folly of embarking on an open-ended tour in any country other than the United States, Germany or Austria (the locations of the only permanent Rohloff Service Centers in existence). Of course, if your budgets (e.g. monetary, time, hassle, heartache) allow you to drop everything, get a hotel for a week or two in whatever place you happen to find yourself in when the hub fails, argue with a manufacturer that stubbornly and illogically insists that your hub failure was the result of “cycling in a hot dessert environment” and ultimately spend hundreds of dollars (US) in shipping and customs charges and hotel costs, then by all means, get a Rohloff. But if you prefer to spend your money on robust products that actually last as long as they should and then use the savings to propel your travels in other ways (more money for routine daily expense means more total time spent cycling, which is why you likely got into this in the first place) then I’d stick with the following: 36H (or more) Phil Wood hubs (or the slight compromise position of made-in-Japan loose ball bearing Shimano XT or XTR versions – for the ultimate in serviceability), eight or nine speed cassettes with aluminum carriers, 7075-T6 (or stainless steel) chainrings [we’re partial to RaceFace “Race” rings], Japanese-made NOS Shimano front and rear derailleurs, your choice of chains and, lastly, indexed or friction-only bar-end shifters (assuming flared mountain-style drop bars).

      For some crucial context, over the equivalent period and distance, I’ve spent a total of under US$100 on three chains. That’s it for expense realted to my transmission. Moreover, over the same period I’ve been able to calmly and efficiently remotely stockpile almost two entirely duplicate (or my setup) conventional drive-trains – one for me and one for Sheila to switch to the next time her Rohloff fails – by perusing deals on that large online auction site and having items shipped to family back home (where it sits in wait for when we need it). All that for under the cost of one international Rohloff ‘servicing’. That’s it in a nutshell. I wish you luck!

  • Kai,

    I have a Surly LHT and got the bike buddy MK3 for my bottom bracket to hold my fuel bottle (just as you have it, same bottle too). I have seen many sites, including yours suggest this. I installed it last night and unfortunately the bottle is hitting the chain on my small and medium chainrings. Have you heard of this or know of any solution to this? I have messed with the setup but can’t figure out a way to get around this. I even added inserts to move the bottle further away but this doesn’t seem to be helping.

    Thanks!

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