In search of the most secure bottle cage

Seth tests which bottle cage best keeps your water bottle in place

Gear Video
Water Bottle Cages

Seth runs some of the most popular water bottle cages through a series of tests to find out which one will hold your water bottle most securely.

How many water bottles have you lost while charging through gnar? Well, I’ve lost a few and it sucks. I have a great hydration pack that is comfortable and disappears after about 5 minutes onto the trail (unless it’s full of water). So for shorter rides I’ll either go without the pack and just use a water bottle, or I’ll wear the pack with an empty bladder to stow extra gear I may need during the ride, but still rely on a water bottle for hydration. This plan generally serves me well.

Testing Cages

This homemade machine simulates the hard drops a cage and water bottle are subject to when riding rough terrain or landing big drops.

That is until I lose my water bottle. Such was the case last July on a special invite trip to ride the savage trails of Georgetown, California, with California Expeditions. I had never ridden these notorious motocross trails before and we were still learning how to connect trails to make a route that is easy to shuttle. I filled my water bottle before leaving camp and even threw an extra small bottle of water in my pack just in case.

Drinking From the Stream

How many of you have resorted to drinking from a stream without knowing if it meets safety standards?

As (bad) luck would have it, I lost my main water bottle on the first chunky trail we encountered and we were only 2 miles in on a 9.5-mile adventure that involved lots of climbing, some crashes, hike-a-bikes, and temps creeping over 100F. As dehydration set in and I started feeling loopy, I decided to drink as much as I could from the one stream we crossed and risk giardia rather than faint on the trail at the worst possible moment like when charging down steep rocky chutes of which these trails offered many. The ride leader offered to share his water with me but I’m stubborn in situations like this and don’t want anyone else to suffer because of my errors.

Sending it For Science

Not all water bottle cages will hold a bottle secure when sending it off north shore style drops or charging through rocky chunder.

Ultimately, I made it safely back to the shuttle rig but felt pretty sick the rest of the day and didn’t enjoy the ride nearly as much as I could have had I been properly hydrated. All this drama because I failed to push down on the water bottle hard enough until I heard the telltale click that it was locked into place.

So is there a better water bottle cage design out there that could have helped me? Seth’s Bike Hacks was eager to find out so he devised an unscientific but effective test. While his test methods don’t cover all circumstances, it does help sort out which cases may be most secure for your riding style and cage mounting locations.

For more useful tips, hacks and funny mishaps check out other videos on Seth’s channel and hit subscribe.

Secure Bottle

The water bottle is held securely yet is relatively easy to remove when needed. Note the additional Velcro strap used to keep the cage from flexing open and dropping the bottle.

Broken Cage

The Specialized Zee cage was dropped from 48 inches before it finally broke but it still held the water bottle in place. Impressive!

Check out more videos on Mtbr.


About the author: Justin Wages

As a stage 4 colon cancer survivor, Justin Wages got into the cycling world in an effort to increase his endurance after losing his left lung. As a California native and growing up with a skateboard and snowboard beneath his feet it wasn’t long before the thrill of mountain biking gripped him. Justin’s day job as a Land & Recreation Manager helps him understand the balance between conservation and trail use. He also works with his fiancé, Jeni, to bring more women into the mountain bike world with certified skills clinics and education. “My goal is to get more people on trails for health and enjoyment,” he says. “I want to help them overcome their mental or physical limitations and be the best person they can be, while expanding their appreciation for our natural world.”


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  • Tom says:

    Hilarious and useful video, but most of us bottle snobs have bikes that allow cages inside the front triangle. Absent that, it’s hard to argue with the strap approach.

  • frank says:

    The velcro strap thing is a good idea except for one small problem…you’re going to have to stop the bike to put the water bottle back into the cage because the strap will close the empty cage so the the bottle won’t go back in.

    King cages won’t work for this test either, remember commentators, this is a test for harsh MTB riding conditions not riding a road bike, or a MTB down relatively smooth dirt paths, I know the King Cage won’t work because I tried it for those conditions and tossed bottles (I do like the cage though just not for rough offroading), after I tried a bunch of cages I resorted to my Camelbak instead, no more problems. I normally don’t like stuff on my back when riding but with MTBing I don’t ride as long as I do riding on the road so it’s not as much of an issue.

    • Frank H says:

      King Cages hold a bottle much better than an Al cage. I have never lost a bottle from one, at least from the Ti model, even from under the downtube on an MTB.

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