Gold Design & Innovation Award

Fabric Cageless Bottle, designed for fabric by Rebecca Crowder.

The mission of the Design & Innovation Award is to shape the bicycle world in a positive way. It also serves as a forum for creativity, visionary ideas as well as the industry’s most innovative products. More than 40 experts from 10 countries joined this year’s event to test, analyze and judge the best and most innovative products of 2016 in Kronplatz/San Vigilio – Dolomites. The Gold Award recognises either perfect product design and function, or innovation that sets a new standard and inspires future product generations and forward-thinking approaches. 

“With their new Cageless Water Bottle, Fabric have challenged tradition, and the end result is a masterpiece of design. By incorporating a simple, new mounting system that uses the existing bottle bosses in a very different way, Fabric have revolutionised the function of the simple bottle. Two tiny plastic studs are screwed into the bottle cage bosses, weighing only 1.5 g each, and a BPA-free bottle simply slots into place. The connection is firm and secure, and despite the test team’s best efforts, the bottle could not be shaken loose. When the bottle is not in place, all that is left behind are the two almost invisible, impressively light studs, keeping the lines of the bike clean and tidy. In use, the inexpensive bottle is initially a little trickier to locate than some caged designs, but all you need is some practice. From a design standpoint, the form and lightweight function is unmatched. Furthermore, the Fabric Cageless Bottle design will inspire other designers to question the established, think the unthinkable, and create truly new solutions to issues that others have overlooked.” 05.02.2016 • by Noah Haxel

Designer of Fabric’s cage killer wows Eurobike

Crowder on the Fabric Eurobike stand.

Fabric’s re-invention of the water-bottle-and-cage combo by scrapping the cage has gone down well at Eurobike. And Rebecca Crowder, the bottle’s designer, has also been a hit.

Rebecca Crowder’s design dispenses with a bottle cage. Instead, two plastic studs are swapped out for the bottle cage bolts, and the bottle attaches via proprietary slots. Tested on rough terrain, the bottles don’t rattle free, said Nick Larsen, Fabric’s founder.

Getting rid of the cage leads to cleaner lines, said Larsen. It also has another benefit, said Crowder, designer of the bottle: “We can make all sort of different shapes and sizes of bottle, allowing us to create bespoke designs. We’ll be able to go wild.”

The bottle cage killer has been brought to market rapidly. “We came up with the concept after returning from Eurobike last year,” said Crowder.

“The whole thing about Fabric is doing stuff differently. What can you change about a water bottle other than the way it goes on a bike? So that’s how we came up with the two-stud system.”

It has been a baptism of fire for Crowder – she joined Fabric two months before Eurobike last year having been poached from a prototyping company.

Fabric is owned by the Cycling Sports Group, which also owns Cannondale, Mongoose and GT. Fabric’s Nick Larsen is also founder of Charge, CSG’s boutique brand.

As well as the ditch-the-cage system Fabric makes multi-tools, saddles and grips. 28th August 2015


Industry outsiders

He has another significant card to play in his quest for innovation: the industrial designers he employs are recruited from outside of the cycle industry. Ian Redfern, who headed development of the ALM saddle, once designed kitchen knives. And Rebecca Crowder joined from a business making clay models for the likes of Aardman Animations.

“In the interview, I said to Nick, ‘I have a bike, but I don’t know what the bits are called’,” she recalls. “He said, ‘No, that’s fine. That’s what we wanted’.”

Water carrier

Crowder has worked closely with Larsen on the development of Fabric’s cageless water bottle, a system of beguiling simplicity. A groove in one side of the bottle slides on to two plastic ‘hats’, one each mounted on the downtube bosses. It is an improvement on similar, but failed designs from past eras.

Larsen has high hopes for the product, one he claims is the lightest and most aerodynamic on the market. It is also among the most versatile, easily swapped from bike to bike, and soon to be produced in numerous iterations, including with a handle.

He compares the cageless bottle to the SPD pedal, both in terms of the initial reservation of enthusiasts and Shimano’s dogged extolling of its value to the consumer until it became the norm.

Design stories: Charge/Fabric

Gear 15.03.16 Words: Rouleur