A cyclist can ride as far as his legs will take him. However, to keep going, the cyclist will need to sip a drink now and then to stay hydrated. Water bottles are the perfect way to carry your water when out on a road bicycle. Although you can ride with a rucksack, a lot of road cyclists find that this is uncomfortable when riding for a long period. It can obscure your view when looking back over your shoulder and can slip up the back, particularly when riding on the drops of the handlebars.
If you are going to use a water bottle for hydration, you are going to need a bottle cage to put it. Bottle cages are sipper bottle holders. The water bottle cage is usually found on the top side of the down tube, which is just behind the front wheel of the bicycle. This location allows for convenient access to the bottle. Bottle cages can also be mounted directly below the seat on the seat tube and under the down tube.
Most cages can hold standard water bottles, but there are also cage and bottle sets that make life easier for the cyclist. Bottle cages can be made of plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, or carbon fiber. Threaded holes, called braze-on, are used to attach the bottle cage to the bicycle, and they are found on most modern bicycles.
While the simplest and most inexpensive bottle cages will do the same job as the premium models; securely holding your bottle and allowing you easy access whenever you need a drink, many riders, however, view it as one component where precious grams can be shed, or consider a sleek and modern cage as adding to the aesthetics of their bicycle.
Things to consider while buying
- Bottle cages are typically made of stainless alloy, plastic or carbon fiber. The simplest types consist of a single shaped loop of tubular alloy, while other manufacturers offer titanium cages or models pressed and shaped from a single sheet of aluminum. Alloy cages are simple and secure, but heavier in comparison to their plastic or carbon fiber counterparts.
- The primary function of the cage is to hold the bottle, so it must grip the bottle securely. Some minimalist carbon/plastic cages use wraparound designs and the inherent spring in the material to grip the bottle body rather than the collar, but anyone riding over rough road surfaces or off-road may appreciate the secure grip of a ‘traditional’ style alloy cage.
- You will need to be able to reach down and easily remove and replace the bottle while riding at speed, so the retention can’t be too secure as to make this difficult. There’s a balance to be struck between security and ease of access. Meanwhile, certain designs are shaped in a way that enables the bottle to be removed and replaced from the side as well as from the top.
- High-end carbon fiber cages are popular among riders when low weight cages are a concern. Many riders may prioritize light weight and easy access over security. So some models are best advised for those riding on smooth road surfaces only.
- Most water bottle cages are standard sized, to fit both large and small bottles, but some feature adjustable bottle stoppers to fine-tune the fit and retention. One advantage of alloy cages is that if they lose their retention grip over time, they can simply be bent back into shape.
Types of Cages
- Traditional alloy cage: A simple loop of a tubular alloy. Heavier than the more space-age cages but secure, cheap and can be bent back into shape.
- Carbon or plastic cage: Lightweight and sleek looks make them the racer’s choice.
- Rear mount systems: Mounting brackets are available to allow cages be positioned behind the saddle, offering improved aerodynamics for TT or tri riders, or additional capacity for small frames.
- Bar mount systems: Mounting plates that fit on aero bars allowing a cage and bottle to be positioned close to the rider’s face. This means that TT and tri riders can drink while still maintaining the aero tuck position.