Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Coffee Mug For Your Bike

I'm really not much of a coffee snob. I drink expensive foofoo coffee and cheap coffee and coffee that's too hot and too cold and bitter coffee and coffee with loads of cream and sugar. Most mornings at home I drink cheap instant coffee and I've really grown fond of it. I'm also fond of good coffee served by cute baristas at places like Zeitgeist in Seattle.

I don't really like throwing away paper coffee cups and for quite some time I've been looking for a coffee mug that would work well and that would fit in one of the waterbottle cages on my bike. My pal Tarik reviewed Trek's Soho Coffee Mug here:

http://www.tariksaleh.com/bike/mug.html

and the definitive Bike & Coffee site is here:

http://www.bicyclecoffeesystems.com/

A few weeks ago, while roaming through various stores in a quest for just the right garbage cans to use to make a set of panniers, I found an OXO Good Grips LiquiSeal Travel Mug at Linens-N-Things. Ten bucks and it looked like it had a good seal up top. I vaguely remembered the OXO name being mentioned favorably on the bicycle coffee systems site, so I bought the mug. It turns out Linens-N-Things also has the pricier ($20) stainless mug but the $10 mug I bought has the same seal and works great.

The cover really is spill-proof. It has a clever little push-button up top that opens and closes the seal. When the lid is closed you can flip the mug upside-down and nothing leaks out. The mug slides in and out of the my plastic down-tube mounted bottle cage OK but I worried about the tapering shape of the bottle. The mug never popped out of the cage, but I could envision the bottle working loose. I also got to thinking that the mug could be insulated just a bit better, so I modified the mug slightly.

I wrapped the bottom half of the mug with a layer of old cork handlebar tape. This adds a layer of insulation and makes the mug a bit more of a straight cylinder instead of a slightly tapered cone. I then covered the cork tape and the rest of the body of the mug with a very stylish layer of black duct tape. The modified mug fits perfectly in the bottle cage now, snug enough to stay put but still easy enough to slide in and out when I want to take a drink.

That's it. No solution to global warming or profound insight into the human condition. Just a coffee mug that does a pretty good job and isn't too pricey. And it's made better with duct tape.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent

12 comments:

Cellarrat said...

Kent,

Its the little thing that are life changing and having coffee is one of them =)

Cool mug!

Chris said...

Coffee is delicious, especially over sugared, creamed and carmeled foofoo coffee. For everyday i've been drinking tea with some honey. Quite wonderful too.

Love your posts, I read them religously. :) Gotta have ducktape!

Chris

Tarik said...

Cool beans Kent,

Last few times I have been in seattle I have found myself at the zeitgeist nice shop to have around the corner.

Thanks for the link.

Tarik

Anonymous said...

My fiance Mary and I purchased two of these mugs in February '06. We were ecstatic about finding mugs that we could fill up, close, and toss into our panniers or bags. Then one day in June, mine suddenly became coffee unproof and ruined an optics textbook and a baseball cap. Within a couple of weeks, hers started leaking too. Notable are the facts that that they started at the same time and that neither failure was graceful: when they start leaking, they gush coffee. Still, for lack of a better solution, we went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and cleaned them out. We're on our second pair, and we have a few more backups, but what next? Does anyone use anything else successfully?

-Ravi Jonnal

Mel said...

Thanks for the coffee carrying info! I wish I had heard about this during the winter, but now I have something to look forward to in the fall. Nothing likea little hot coaco that I can take from home to the office!

Jim G said...

Admittedly this is useless for drinking coffee while riding, but for foolproof non-leak security I really like my Sigg Metro Mug with its screw-on top. They're a little undersized to fit in a bottle cage, but this could be fixed by wrapping in cork tape (ala Kent's trick) or a neoprene sleeve or similar. And, the best part is, since it's a true vacuum bottle it really does keep coffee hot for hours!

Byron said...

I picked up a stainless steel OXO Good Grips travel mug about a month and a half ago. I was very pleased with it and was using it daily with a Profile Design Kage that hugged it nicely.

Then last week the button got very weak and wouldn't stay open. So the mug closed up on itself while I was drinking and leaked if I layed it down sideways -- sounds like a similar problem that Ravi posted previously.

I'm disappointed that it's not working properly and will probably return to my bullet-thermos type bottle.

s_hield@hotmail.com said...

Kent,
I noticed that one of the last things you said in your blog was that your mug hasn't come out of the cage yet, Well, I have a story for you;
I like to drink coffee on the bus during my 1 hour commute. Last week I was traveling at a fairly high rate of speed on my way to catch the bus at 6am (in the dark). I hit a pot hole while turning left and my no-name stainless vacuum insulated coffee mug came flying out of the cage, bounced off the ground and went smack into my rear wheel spokes, immediately bending the rim and locking it into a skid. As I skidded sideways, I thought for sure I was going down, my 120psi tire exploded like a shot gun and I came to a stop, somehow keeping the rubber side down. The coffee amazingly did not spill. I had to walk home, carrying the bike up hill in road cleats. When I got home, I nuked the coffee and drank it, counting my blessings for not crashing.
Now that I've laced up a new rim, I'm in search for a good vacuum insulated mug that won't pop out of an ordinary bottle cage without using a bungie cord to keep it in place. Anyone comes across one, email me please. Be careful when traveling over pot holes at high rates of speed in the dark.

Steve
Santa Fe, NM
s_hield@hotmail.com

calsun7569 said...

thanks for this tip. I was actually looking at the 20 mug today at a store but I wasn't sure if it was going to work. Now that I see some good reviews of it, I'm going to get it. Yay bikes and coffee!!

kaci said...

ths is the real bikers mug:

http://www.thabto.co.uk/mug

Great novelty coffee mug!

Vibrant Kick said...

I use this mug and love it. I hope it doesn't fail as it seems to have for others.

I use it with this Coffee Cup holder:
http://www.somafab.com/morningrush.html It works really well. The cup that comes with it is terrible. Leaks and spills. Until it is 1/3 empty, coffee drips out on bumps and rains on your legs. Not so with the Oxo.

Here's a simlar holder without the cup that might pair nicley with the Oxo.
http://nycewheels.com/bottle-holder-bar-mount.html

Pete

fred said...

Hi Kent,

After many a disappointment in travel mugs I found the Kleen Kanteen with screwtop and the cafe top for keeping it hot and spillproof.