Sometimes I find myself on ride that is only one cup of hot coffee short of perfection – maybe a sunny, cold, dry winter commute, or a fall neighborhood tour with the kids. In pursuit of the elusive Perfect Ride I’ve been casting about on and off for years for a thermos that fits a standard water bottle cage. It’s not an easy thing! Most everything I encountered required either a custom cage, a handlebar mount, a lot of duct tape, or some other ugly jury-rigged compromise. But recently I stumbled across the Stanley 1913 One-hand Vacuum Insulation Bike Mug. I bought one and got my hands on it yesterday. Here are my first impressions:
First off, it’s indented at just the right spot, and snaps into the bottle cage easily and firmly – no adjustments necessary. The thermos body is all metal and quite durable, and looks as though it will be easy to clean. (Which apparently you have to do by hand – “not dishwasher safe”.) I expect that the smooth metal exterior will quickly become scratched and discolored by the cage, but I don’t mind a well-used look on a well-used thing.
The lid isn’t quite as finely tailored to a cyclist’s needs, though in fairness Stanley did seem to try, and I’m not sure they could have done better. My favorite travel mugs have a little a reservoir in the lid that holds a bit of the hot coffee and lets you sip from it as it cools. This lid has only a narrow opening that’s triggered by a pushbutton in the rear. It’s – well, okay having to push the button. The problem is that the narrow spout concentrates the hot liquid on one small spot on your lips and, if the coffee’s still hot from brewing, it’s painful. I don’t much care for this design but I get why Stanley did it this way – these thermoses are made to be used by moving cyclists, and a “dead-man’s lid” with no reservoir makes a certain sense. When the bottle’s in the cage, it won’t leak at all. And hot liquid won’t get spattered all about if a cyclist hits a bump or loses his grip on the thermos while drinking from it.
After 20 minutes the coffee’s probably cool enough to drink easily anyhow.
Finally, Stanley included a little “mud guard” on the lid, a little piece of plastic that covers the opening and keeps grit away. To drink, you rotate it over to one side. I’ll probably just leave this piece at home – I’m not going to be taking the thermos off-road as it is, plus the piece is held to the lid by its own tension and it’s much too easy to imagine trying to twist it and instead causing it to pop off and spring away in an unknowable direction.
The thermos comes in three colors – black, silver and a weird bright blue they call “cobalt”. You can find it on Amazon for $25-30. I’ll report more on it after I’ve used it a bit.