17 June 2012

Product Review: King Iris Water Bottle Cages

Each of my Mercians now has at least two Kings.

No, this isn't going to be a tell-all about the Royal Family.  And, this also isn't going to reveal something your Western Civ teacher never mentioned.

Each of my Mercians--Arielle, Helene, Tosca and Vera--now has a Chris King headset.  They really are much better than any other made.  I once had a King headset that I rode on three different bikes over a dozen years or so.  Yes, those headsets are expensive.  But, given that I get three to five years out of most loose-bearing headset, I think the King is worth the investment.

But this post isn't about those headsets.  Much has already been written about them, most of it laudatory, and I have little to add.  Instead, this review is going to be about the other Kings on my bikes:  the Iris water bottle cages.

The maker of King water bottle cages bears no relation to Chris King--at least in bloodlines.  (Can't get away from the Royal Family meme, can I?)  However, they share the same kind of excellent workmanship.  And, it wouldn't surprise me if the water bottle cages share the headsets' near-indestructibility.

King offers several styles of water bottle cage, including ones that look rather like the old Blackburn and TA cages.  The one I chose, the Iris. is something like the Velo Orange Moderniste and similar cages offered by other companies.

King's Iris cage, at first glance, is a bit chunkier than those. But there's a good reason:  It's made of tubular stainless steel, while the others are made of stainless steel rods or wires.  Actually, I liked the look of the King cages when I saw them, and liked them even better when I installed one on Vera.  And I liked them just as much after I installed, and used, them on my other Mercians.

All of King's cages are hand-made in Durango, Colorado.  The body is made of a continuous tube, which is welded to two small plates of the same material.  Those plates have holes drilled in them so you can mount the cage on any standard water-bottle braze-ons.

After nearly a year of using them, I have found Iris cages to be very solid, and to offer a firm grip on the bottle.  It might take slightly more effort to pull the bottle out than it does on other cages.  However, I think this is not a problem because the cage also eliminates the problem of rattling that I encountered with other cages since I started using stainless-steel water bottles.

King's Iris cages aren't super-light, at least not by today's standards.  At 48 grams, they weigh about what other similar cages weigh, and are heavier than carbon cages.  However, given how solid and nicely made these cages are, the weight is a small penalty, in my opinion.

And, given what I've said about these cages, I think that the  suggested retail price--about 17 USD--is quite reasonable.  You can find them for slightly less, as I did, especially if you buy more than one.


  1. Forty years ago, or just a bit less, I got my bike shop to order up a titanium bottle cage. It was the first piece of titanium to enter the shop and being so expensive I only ever bought the one and it has survived where alloy ones have broken...

  2. A titanium cage forty years ago? I didn't know they were made back then!

    I'm sure they last longer than aluminum ones. So do stainless steel cages like the Iris.