Installing bottle cage bosses using RIV-NUTS

OK bosses are the nuts embedded in a frame that you can screw accessories in like racks and bottle cages.  They can be either welded in or held in compression using Rivnuts, which are expanding nuts that can be locked into a hole.  Now the good news is you’ll probably never need to know this because they rarely break, the bad news is I had to become familiar with them because one of mine broke.

The first time I screwed a water bottle cage into my frame 3 years ago I thought something wasn’t quite right, even though the bolt was tight it didn’t feel that tight,  but it seemed to be fine so I left it alone.  Over the years this cage would rattle forcing me to tighten the bolt every few months.  Eventually it just started spinning when I tried to tighten it.

The bolt became stuck in the boss and the only way I could think to get it out was with a hacksaw, not very elegant but effective.  Now the boss and half the bolt are banging around in my down tube.  They may fall out next time I take the crank out.

Replacing the boss was a challenge I didn’t expect.  I took it t my go to bike shop, Carbondale Cycle, and Choak didn’t have the parts to fix it, I tried Phoenix Cycles and they couldnt’ find them either.  I stopped by Bike World in Paducah KY without my bike just to see, and they had the Rivnuts but would only install them, they wouldnt’ sell me one to take home.  They told me it was too complicated for the “home mechanic” to do and I didn’t have the tools required.

The fine folks at Bike World didn’t know it but they had just slapped me in the face with an iron gauntlet.  First off, nothing is to complicated for the dedicated “home mechanic” and if everyone waited for the proper tool to come along we’d still be living in mud huts.

A 5 minute google search revealed the Park tool website’s explanation for installing rivnuts using a hub.  I found some on ebay for 5 dollars.  It took me about 5 minutes to install the nut, hmm, lots of 5s.  Lets roll the footage.

There’s the hole a bit beat up after I hacked out the old rivnut and bolt.

Here’s the bag of Rivnuts, see the size, that’s what a bike needs unless your hole has been reemed out.  You can see when I tested to see how they smash inside the frame and stay in place.

Here’s my tool, this is why any every dedicated “home mechanic” has a box of broken crap, never know when you may need it.

So you screw the eyelet onto your quick release skewer until its tight against the axel on the hub. If the hole in your frame is a bit wollered out like mine was I needed to compress the nut a bit then retighten it on the skewer before installing it so I got a good hold.

So the rivnut is in the hole and all I have to do is turn the quick release lever, it took about the same amount of pressure as a good wheel fit. Once the lever was all the way down you just unscrew the skewer.

Here’s the new boss, looks like I need a bit of touch up paint.

Skip the touch up paint you can’t see it under the bottle cage.  Well maybe just a little.   Tightened the bolt and the rivnut stayed tight. Looks like this “home mechanic” was up to the challenge.


About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Barn Door Cycling, Bikes and components, Rants, Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Installing bottle cage bosses using RIV-NUTS

  1. rlhoover says:

    Put me in the Very Impressed With Your Ability to Improvise category. Broken Stuff that you never throw away sure came in handy this time.

  2. Ontdrew says:

    I just had a boss pull out. I epoxied it back in but if it comes loose again I’m going to try your method. Great post!

    • Scott says:

      I’ve read several threads about people using ordinary epoxy on metal parts. If you used an epoxy specifically for metal, bravo! If you didn’t, you might consider doing so the next time. It should give you a much better end result. I’m only familiar with two brands – JB Weld & Permatex.
      Thanks! I hope your boss stays put.

  3. Matt Gholson says:

    If I could go back in time I would have tried that first.

  4. capeToCape says:

    Ther’s a better way to get the bolt losen: heat 😉

  5. will says:

    you can retrieve the piece from within the seatube by removing the seatpost and tipping the bike upside down :)…

  6. ROADHOG says:

    3M colored vinyl electrical tape

  7. adhi says:

    Thanks matt, your post has given me a big sigh of relief but this one hiccup that i see. Mine is a carbon frame, how does it work on it?

    • Bungy says:

      Believe it or not, it works the same. Alum rivnuts are installed at the factory. Obviously it represents a weak point and you want to avoid too much tightening, just as with seat post clamp and stem.

  8. Kevin says:

    Thanks Matt,
    I picked up a used ti road bike last year with no bottle cage bosses. I finally got tired of thinking about it bought a 7mm cobalt bit and tap magic oil drilled it out (like Butter cream). Thanks to your post . I took an old hub and skewer and got those bosses in tight. I really appreciate the inspiration on this.

  9. ben says:

    Hi, same thing happened to me. Did the failed rivnut banging around in the frame cause any problem? It’s gonna be a while before I get the bottom bracket out. Cheers!

  10. Andrew says:

    By any chance do you have any of your leftover rivet nuts for sale? I need only two and I’d prefer not to buy a whole bag. Thank you.

  11. Pingback: How to replace a swage nut on a road bike to fix a water bottle cage or other accessories. - OldManRider

  12. Tom says:

    Hey, could you help a random stranger with a couple of those aluminum rivnuts? I’d happily compensate w/ $$ via paypal. I’ve installed 100’s of these in van conversions, so even have the dedicated tool, but not the alloy metric rivnut. Will add a third insert under the downtube of my new Timberjack so I can mount a Salsa Anything Cage there.

    • Matthew says:

      Hi Tom,
      It is worth noting that when I wanted to do something similar I was able to just buy one from my local bikeshop for $1. Most decent shops should have them available if you don’t want to buy 100 online 😛

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