Bell Joe to Go Coffee Carrier – review
All I wanted was some black water bottle cages. I was asked specifically what I wanted for a recent gift giving occasion, and I told the requester specifically that I wanted a pair of black cages. Instead of getting what I asked for specifically, I instead got this Bell Joe To Go coffee carrier. After I bought my black cages, I installed the Java holder on my “city” bike to give it a test run. I want to preface all of this by saying that “to go” coffee normally isn’t my thing. I like to make a cup at home, or wait until I get to the office and have a cuppa when I settle in. This is true when I drive as well as when I cycle. I find coffee to be too dangerous to travel with because I always end up with a few spots on me. I love coffee, make no mistake, and drink about a dozen cups a day. I just don’t travel well with it, and I thought that having coffee on a bike was a bad idea. Oh, how I was wrong. This coffee on a bike thing is great. Obviously it’s been cold lately, and when it is cold in the morning, I don’t ride the full 13 miles to my office. Instead I ride to the train station (a little over a mile away) and take the train most of the way into work. I do have one stop light that I always catch before I hit the station, and I will tell you that when it is 35 degrees outside having hot coffee on your bicycle suddenly makes sense. When that coffee hits your throat at the stoplight, it makes sense like nothing ever has before. I am firmly converted to the coffee on a bike when it’s cold crowd. Despite the sudden flash of understanding, this isn’t the first bicycle oriented coffee holder I have owned. I actually have another one, the Bar Hopper Drink Holder by Topline (at Amazon), that was attached to a bike I bought last year. I tried it with paper cups on the way back from the donut shop on Sunday morning, but I was never comfortable with the way it clamps on the bar – the clamp is flimsy plastic held by a thumbscrew. I could never get it tight enough on the bar to keep the full cup upright, and the band that holds the cup itself just seemed flimsy. I used it once or twice then wrote it off, and it has been hanging on my pegboard ever since.
On the other hand, the Bell carrier is a real, solid component. The clamp is aluminum, and holds to the bar as firmly as you please – it is secured by an Allen bolt, and the clamp is nicely welded to the thick, solid aluminum cup holder – the cup holder is even lined with neoprene to secure the mug more securely. I have now ridden with this for a few days, and the bike it is attached to is my “Go everywhere” bike; on the way home I ride on sidewalks, jump curbs, and even ride through a field at one point (when it gets dark I don’t care to share the road with cars, so I get creative).
This cup holder has not slipped a bit, and I have gotten a few drops flying out when I am bouncing around, but I’m pretty sure that is a mug problem rather than a holder problem.
“So how much is this miracle component?”, you might ask. Good question. Across the board, these coffee holders seem to be expensive. Most run in the $15- $20 range, and even up to $35 if you need a one branded “Soma”. I expected this one, due to the construction quality, to be on the higher side. Not so. If you are inclined to drink coffee as you ride, you can do it for a measly $5.99 (at Kmart). This is the only place I could find it to order online, but I know it is available at both Target and Sears stores. I don’t normally recommend big box stores for bicycle stuff, but in this case I’d exhort you to ride to your nearest big box and pick one of these up. Be careful though, because I’d guess that when a driver sees you sipping coffee and riding your bike he will be even more enraged that you have found a way to enjoy a cup of coffee while you shake off the oil company shackles.