Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Bikes and Bottles: Gifts for the Bicycling Alcoholic in Your Life

We bicyclists must be a heavy drinking lot. At least, it's easy to get that idea from looking at all the bike+booze products that are constantly being introduced.

Now that it's officially the gift-giving season (I say "officially" because people are welcome to give me stuff all year 'round), I thought I'd take a moment to highlight some of the gift possibilities for that heavy-drinking cyclist in your life - or even for yourself if you're so inclined.

Bicycle-themed bottle openers are always a popular choice, and one of the more common items:

The newest bottle-opening accessory (and the one that sparked this topic in the first place) is a joint effort between the folks at Silca and Wisecracker. What could possibly make your $450 Silca Ultimate Inflation Tool (it's too expensive to call a "pump") even more "ultimate"? Why, adding a bottle opener to the top cap, of course. Wisecracker has already made a name for themselves with stem-mounted and seatpost-mounted bottle openers (see below), so having one for the home-based workshop was a natural extension -- that way, nobody ever need be more than a few steps away from being able to pop open a cold one. (photo from
While we're on the subject of the well-equipped home workshop, for the beer-drinking bike mechanic (is there any other kind?), both Pedro's and Park make "shop quality" bottle opening "wrenches." Big, rubber-coated handles give lots of leverage for stubborn bottle caps.
For an on-the-go wrench/opener option, those makers of overpriced titanium urban cruisers, Budnitz, also have a titanium wrench and bottle opener combination. With its knurled 5mm bolts, it is designed to be carried on standard water bottle braze-ons. (photo from Budnitz)
There seems to be a veritable cottage industry in so-called "upcycled" chains turned into jewelry, picture frames, and of course, BOTTLE OPENERS. This particular one comes from Uncommon Goods. I've never tried to use one, but I imagine that the flexibility of the chain "handle" would make it a little more awkward to use. What do I know?

Then there are those who can't wait until they get home before cracking open a beer, so there are a number of choices out there that attach right to the bike:

Surly has long offered a few choices for the drinking cyclist. The Tuggnut chain tensioner turns a track/fixie bike's rear fork end into a bottle opener. Two-sided, so it works whether mounted on the left or right side. Also aimed at the fixed-gear cyclist is their Jethro Tule, which has an offset 15mm box end wrench for axle nuts (it's angled slightly from the handle to help minimize knuckle scrapes), with a bottle opener on the other end.

The aforementioned Wisecracker makes seatpost-mounted and stem-mounted bottle openers that seem to have gotten pretty popular -- at least if the bicycle blogosphere is any indication. I mean, even BikeSnobNYC has one. Still, I have to wonder if this double-headed version - dubbed the "Twinduro" - is meant as a joke. What the hell? For two-fisted drinkers? Or people with really impatient riding buddies?

The Pub Nub, from Nub Nub mounts onto the end of a handlebar, like a bar-end plug. It's only shown on a MTB type of bar, so I don't know if it would work on drop bars or not (they're usually different diameter). Also available from where I found the following ad copy: "Here at Firebox we live by one rule and one rule only. . . Never, ever EVER leave the house without beer. It may seem like an easy rule to follow, but things get a little tricky once bicycles sneak their way into the equation. Where do I keep my bottle opener. What happens if I get all the way to the park and realize I've left it at home?"  
Remember: Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Then there's this one from Chromoly, called the Road Popper that mounts to a bike's saddle rails. By the way, I approve of the saddle, but not so much the seat post. The Road Popper has the following tongue-in-cheek warnings (or at least I assume they're tongue-in-cheek -- maybe they really are teetotalers): "The Road Popper is not intended for alcoholic beverages. Chromoly does not condone cycling while under the influence of alcohol." 
Finally - what's the point of having all these "take-them-with-you" bottle opening options if you've got nothing to drink when you arrive wherever you're going?

All manner of leather-crafting artisans offer some variation on the 6-pack caddy. I don't know if there's much difference between them, but this example comes from the folks at Fyxation. For what it's worth, my own experience with beer is that lots of vibration has a pretty negative effect on it. Rest assured though, "Being from Milwaukee (Brew City), we've had more than a few opportunities to test out this product. When properly fastened to your top tube and seat tube and filled with a six pack of suds, there's plenty of clearance between the caddy and your legs while pedaling." 
I do think the operative word here might be "suds."

Live near a trendy brew-pub, and like to take home a growler of microbrew regularly? There are a number of artisans making versions of the growler carrier out there. This hand-crafted leather version comes from Pedal Happy Design, which makes several variations for different types of growlers.

Have you noticed that most of these things are focused on beer drinkers? Yeah, me too. But what about the wine drinkers out there? What are we supposed to do when we're out for a ride and the DTs start setting in?

If you search for 'bicycle wine carrier" you'll find there are plenty of leather crafters out there offering a way to carry a wine bottle. I didn't see a lot of differences between them, as most seem to consist of a couple leather straps that hang from the top tube. This one comes from Oopsmark

I just hope that's a screw-top wine bottle in there, because nobody seems to make a bike-mounted corkscrew. Of course, the ultimate bike-themed corkscrew is the Campagnolo Big Cavatappi - but good luck lugging that massive tool along for the ride. What's the use of all this misplaced booze-toting ingenuity if they're going to leave bicycling wine drinkers high and dry?

Is it too much to ask that somebody offer a clever, functional corkscrew that can be toted on a bike?

I'm starting to wonder if THIS thing was such a dumb idea after all.


  1. The bottle in the first photo has a wired on stopper and therefore no cap to be removed. These are most commonly seen on Grolsch and other high end european beers. Many homebrewers,myself included prize these bottles because once washed and sanitized they are reusable and don't require capping. I wonder what percentage of cyclists homebrew?

    1. There is actually a cap visible there in that photo you refer to -- though I'm familiar with the wired-on stoppers, like on Grolsch. Either that bottle comes with a cap and stopper both (so one can stop it up after opening) or somebody photoshoped a cap on there. Who knows?

      About homebrew -- I've had a couple of riding friends who've tried it. It's an interesting question.

  2. Former Road/Track Racer & Homebrewer here; 2 compatible hobbies, if you don't mind being mediocre ;-)

    I have a chain bottle opener from: which looks identical to the one you show. It works, but isn't exactly the most secure "feeling". The chain flexes, but once that stops the opener works as expected.

    Just what I want for my $450 inflation tool, something that will enable me to knock it over more easily... Heaven knows my workshop is so full, that I don't have room for a full size, purpose built bottle opener.

    I guess some things are more fun than practical.

  3. A swaying 6-pack of glass bottles doesn't seem to be a real great idea on a bike. Particularly between your legs...

    I moved into a new house, so I needed to make my workbench/area for bike-tinkering purposes, and splurged a little bit on some Park stuff to hang on the pegboard. I was thisclose to ordering that Park bottle opener just for grins, but my trusty ol' church key in the tool box is good enough.

    Have you seen the Park Tools pizza cutters? Goes well with the bottle openers, I suppose.


    1. I have seen those pizza cutters. They're the ones that look a little like a penny farthing, aren't they?

    2. I'm sure that I've seen two different styles of Park pizza cutters (one of which looks like a penny farthing, and they have at least 3 different bottle openers), so I thought I'd check out Ye Olde Amazon to see what was on offer and fell down the rabbit hole of viewing similar items. In addition to those fun items, there's a Park Spork (SPK-1).

      Also, for the bike-loving wine drinker:
      If you follow the "customers who bought/viewed this item also bought/viewed the following:" links from that, there's a large variety of biking bric-a-brac. Possible fun gifts for your favorite bike nut?


  4. Don't forget Velo Orange's front rack attachment that secures a six pack. Elegant, although all these would seem to slosh the bottles about quite a bit, making the opening a "spirited" affair.

    At one point somebody actually made a frame-mounted growler cage. I can't imagine being able to pedal with a big ol' jug in there, but where there's a will there's a way, and this is all about will— from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    I like to think beer was the original recovery drink, and no challenger has come close since, so if you feel a need for further justification, there's that.

  5. Trek has a bike which has the bottle opener made into the frame. It's just in front of the seat tube.