As someone who scores highly on the ‘Vintage-bike-ometer’, and specifically, but not exclusively Cannondales, I’m always on the look out to enhance the bikes that I have, and without compromising their place in bicycle design history and evolution. At the other end to the bicycle spectrum, I also like latest technology, and what it can help create. This brings me rapidly to 3D printing as an example.
3D printing today is used for printing not just plastics, but includes metals and even food. Since the home 3D printers first hit the market, I’ve been ‘interested’, but never enough to take the plunge and buy one, even though I could find several uses for one, especially if I had one of the latest 3D scanners that can accurately replicate something unique, and which now can’t be obtained without making one.
Luckily, our eldest son has bought what is currently seen as the best home/small 3D printer; the Bambu Lab X-1 Carbon (link at bottom). It has exceptional capabilities, and it got me thinking about what I could make, and the first thing that came to mind, was a bottle cage for a bike, which then developed into a right side entry cage (my preference), and then a yellow one that would match the red and yellow colour scheme of my 1997 Cannondale Super V Freeride. A bottle cage like this cannot be bought, so after some searching, we found a programme that had been created by Vinum Aularum (link at bottom of page), which would create one, although the compromise was that it was a left side entry cage only. It is worth noting that this programme had been developed slightly by another member of the 3D printing community, Jack Bajcz (link at bottom of page). This model has a stronger base with ‘X-Braces’ and was the one we used.
As the Super V can have two bottles on it’s top tubes, which sit back to back (see the picture of the bike if this is confusing), it means that one of the cages needs to be a left hand side entry and one needs to be a right side entry if I want two cages that can be accessed from the right side. This couldn’t be achieved with this programme, so we just made the left side entry versions.
The global 3D printing community has really grown quickly and the product files that are readily available for sharing is vast. There’s also a lot of development that has been done by other users as they’ve built the product, so continuous improvement is part of the journey.
Having got the programme, the next question to answer is regarding the filament material. There are quite a few types of plastic filaments available for 3D printing and the one that would provide rigidity, strength, flexibility, and the right colour for this cage, is a 3D printing filament called PETG. Having got the programme into the printer and the filament loaded into it, we printed our first version. To reduce the amount of filament used in the standard programme where the cage is printed in an upright position, we printed the first cage on its back, as it would sit on the bike. This removed a number of the support trees required, and which are scrap when it’s finished being printed. Imagine our excitement when the first one was finished, and then our mild disappointment when it cracked whilst under flexible testing😳
The next version was printed upright (above pic) as in the programme and with a slightly more dense filling, which was a tight honeycomb and not completely solid. It was stronger, but again snapped under testing and it had some cosmetic flaws as well. Version 3 was completely solid and didn’t break, but still had a few rough edges that needed finishing. We then printed another two, so in total I had two for the bike and one spare👍
The tried and tested cage that I use on a Cannondale Super V is the Zefal Carbon, and this is also of the same age as the bike, and it provides proven flexibility, light weight and strength. Having the bottle and cage on the top of the tube puts it in a risky position in a crash, so having the right material is key. I had some confidence that what we made would work and withstand the use, so the next stage would be fitting and testing.
One of the critical criteria for this cage was colour, as I wanted to pick out the yellow that was used in some of the other parts of the bike and it’s overall colour scheme, and whilst it’s not quite the same shade of yellow, it’s a good match. I’ll be honest, I didn’t need to replace the black carbon cage that had been on the bike for decades, but a 3D printer allows you to create something that wasn’t thought about at the time in 1997, this being a side entry, yellow cage. It’s the type of thing that only the factory race bikes might have had.
So, in summary, what we printed looks good, and time riding and use will determine whether the design and manufacture is fit for long-term purpose. Regardless, this has been a great experience and learning, and whilst I’m not the wizard behind the technical side of the 3D printing process, unlike our son, it does get the creative part of my mind energised. It is also equally exciting to see so many other people creating, remaking and sharing parts for all types of old products like my Super V, and they can be a slightly better design than the original as well.
The big question is, what is it possible to make with all of the scrap test towers? Whilst some of the printing material can be recycled, there maybe a use for them like model railway bridge supports or………etc etc🤔
If you’ve created something like this, drop me a note to my email and let me know what you’ve done as I’m interested. Oh yeah, thanks to my wife for coming up with the title for this post and our son for actually doing all of the printing work🙏🙏.
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Here’s the link to the Bambu Lab X-1 printer https://bambulab.com/en/x1
Link to the original model creator https://www.printables.com/model/251456-bike-bottle-holder
Link to the model that we eventually used https://www.printables.com/model/522446-water-bottle-holder