One of the things I failed to mention in the review of my Vassago Jabberwocky was that I had replaced the stock water bottle bolts with a pair of Litespeed titanium bolts. When I became aware of this glaring omission, I immediate intended to update the article. After calming myself down and much careful deliberation, I decided that the upgrade warranted its own article. Even with the followup review on my Jabber, I felt that mentioning them would be a distraction from the rest of the post. Sometimes you have to stay focused and not attempt to force too much information into one article. My wife accuses me of overthinking things at times, but I’ll stick with the cautious analysis that makes this blog what it has grown to be.
These bolts were manufactured in the U.S. using the 3.5Al/2v titanium found in most other bicycle applications. While they could have gone with the stiffer 6/4 grade titanium, the risk of cross-threading the eyelets on bikes made of less durable metals would have increased with no real benefit. The standard 0.8mm thread pitch ensures compatibility with nearly every quality frame made in my lifetime. This shows the wisdom that comes from years of working in the bicycle industry. Rather than recklessly creating a new “standard,” Litespeed chose to stick with the tried and true while innovating within the scope of recognized industry norms.
The process of installing a water bottle cage with these bolts doesn’t differ significantly from any of the lesser bolts I’ve used in the past. The same ease of use can be expected every time. I will confess that there was a bit more excitement and anticipation built up, which can lead to some recklessness, but that’s to be expected. Some cyclists or shop mechanics might be tempted to push the use of Loc-Tite over anti-seize compound here. I’ve found that participants in this debate are well intentioned but, ultimately, advocating either ideology tends to be more divisive than constructive. Personally, I’ve had experience with both and have had good results. Not taking sides may make me a bit of a heretic in the eyes of some, but I hope we can move past such issues.
With a product like this, it is easy to expound on all the technical benefits, but what really matters is the real world impact it makes on the biking experience. My first ride after installing these bolts was truly noteworthy. I had barely turned the cranks over a few times, and I was able to immediately notice a subtle but unmistakable liveliness in the bike that I hadn’t felt in years. This wasn’t just about weight savings – although that was clearly evident. They provide all the weight savings benefits of clipping your toenails really, really close, and then some. Although the clipping of your toenails would reduce rotational mass, this weight savings will be with you on every ride, rain or shine. You will climb faster with these. I’ve also found that floating the front end of the bike over trail obstacles requires considerably less effort resulting in a general improvement in my bike handling. A less experienced rider might not immediately notice the difference but if you’re the kind of cyclist who has spent more time in the saddle than on human relationships, the difference will stand out. You can’t trivialize this kind of performance enhancement.
The effects on the overall ride, while significant, pale in comparison with the improvements in bottle retention functions. When removing a water bottle from the cage, the resilient flex qualities allow the action to be completed with a more animated sensation but without ever feeling whippy – even with a full 28oz bottle. Replacing a bottle is likewise an almost pleasurable experience all on its own. Any sudden impacts or inadvertent twisting loads are absorbed seamlessly. What you will notice is how little you notice the behavior of the water bottle or cage absorbing energy and returning it back to the bike, regardless of what water bottle cage you pair with these bolts. It’s not often you get this much lateral rigidity paired with vertical resilience, and that translates into performance that you can count on. In 21 years of riding I can say unequivocally that I’ve never had a negative experience with them. You will not be that guy who loses his water bottle on the road or trail.
These bolts reflect a timeless perfection in engineering. An optimal balance of cold, calculating, engineering precision and an understated artistic aesthetic that reflects the humanity of their purpose. It’s the kind of quality upgrade that upgrades the entire bike. Honestly, nothing communicates refined elegance the way a set of titanium water bottle bolts do. Many riders would be tempted to shy away from this upgrade due to the cost, but there are few areas where you will actually get such a good return on investment. My only regret is that I don’t have more water bottle braze-ons to upgrade on my frame.