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Best bottle cages for mountain bikes: the best bottle cages for all MTB disciplines

MTB Bottle Cages
(Image credit: Future)

There is nothing worse than getting to the bottom of a descent, reaching down to grab your bottle and discovering it's no longer attached to your bike. There are plenty of excellent bottle cages out there, but there are even more that are absolute bottle rockets.

Depending on how much you have to spend, there are bottle cages ranging from simple resin designs to futuristic carbon options and some that don't even utilise a cage at all - each of which has been designed to hold your bottles firmly in place.

BEST BOTTLE CAGES FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Material

Bottle cages come in carbon, plastic, fibre-reinforced resin and metal. There are good and bad options in all three versions; however, the material will influence the price and weight. Carbon and titanium cages will cost a pretty penny, while plastic and resin cages are cheaper. 

2. Weight and grip strength

When looking at bottle cages, counting grams should be pretty low on your list of priorities — even the heavy ones aren't all that heavy. Especially mountain biking, a bottle cage needs have oodles of grip strength so as not to send your bottles flying the first time you hit a bump. There are great lightweight cages out there, however, don't expect a cheap cage to deliver low numbers on the scale and have much holding power. At the same time, the cage needs to release the bottle when you pull on it.

3. Top load vs sideload

Bottle cages come in top and side-load versions, and what's best for you will depend on your frame. If there is tons of room in your front triangle, a top-load cage will work just fine. However, as most full-suspension frames possess tight clearances, a side-load cage will make your bottles more accessible - however, you'll only be able to access from one side.

4. Bottles

While the cageless designs are great looking and solve some of the frame clearance issues with full-suspension bikes, they often require proprietary bottles. Everybody has their own preference when it comes to bottles, and there is something to be said for the near-universal compatibility a standard cage affords. 

THE BEST BOTTLE CAGES FOR MOUNTAIN BIKING

Specialized Zee Cage II

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Zee Cage II

A dependable option for all rider types

Material: Fibre-reinforced resin | Weight: 43g

Secure hold
SWAT compatibility
None

Compatible with Specialized's SWAT tools, the Zee Cage II is a side loader made from a reinforced composite material that weighs about 43g. 

It's available in a range of colours, comes in both left and right varieties and has kept bottles attached to this writer's XC bike for years.

King Cage

(Image credit: King Cage)

King Cage

Classic bottle cage that still holds its own

Material: Stainless steel or titanium | Weight: 28g titanium

Timeless aesthetic
Doesn't chew up bottles
Stainless cage isn't as strong as Ti

Hand made in Durango, Colorado, the design of the King cage hasn't changed since the '90s; however, they continue to be some of the best you can buy. 

Available in stainless steel or titanium versions both weigh less than 50g, and won't chew up your bottles. The design has attracted plenty of knock-offs and copy-cat versions but the King Cage is known for little if any bottle ejections and worry-free riding.

Bontrager Bat Cage

(Image credit: Bontrager)

Bontrager Bat Cage

Eco-bottle cage

Material: Plastic | Weight: 48g

Made from recycled material
Design offers excellent hold
Weight

The injection-moulded plastic Bat Cage has been around since 1997, however, just this year Bontrager announced it would be making this time-tested bottle holder from discarded end of life fishing nets. This comes thanks to the brand's membership in Nextwave; a cross-industry coalition of companies working to reduce plastic in the environment.

Beuro, a company specialising in collecting and recycling fishing nets, processes the nets into tiny plastic pellets which can be used for injection moulding, perfect for the Bat Cage. The design hasn't changed, just the plastic, which is projected to take 44,000 square feet of discarded fishing net out of the ocean this year.

Blackburn Camber CF

(Image credit: Blackburn)

Blackburn Camber CF

The last bottle cage you'll ever need to buy

Material: Carbon | Weight: 30g

Easy no-look bottle loading,
Longevity
Hard on bottles

I purchased a set of Blackburn Camber bottle cages with my very first race bike in 2009, and that same set has graced road and mountain bikes for a decade and are currently bolted to a test bike. The hold is superb even after all this time, and there are no cracks despite years of no-look bottle loading thanks to the flared opening.  

At 30g they are pretty light, but they do mark severely mark bottles. Blackburn also backs them with a lifetime warranty, though it's probably a claim you'll never have to make.

Fidlock Twist

(Image credit: Fidlock)

Fidlock Twist

Cageless bottle cage

Material: Plastic | Weight: 16g without a bottle

Light weight
Clever use of magnets
Proprietary bottles or clunky solution for standard bottles 

Fidlock makes magnetic clasps for everything from backpacks to helmets straps, and the Twist is a magnetic base plate which works in conjunction with either a proprietary 400ml or 600ml bottle or a Boa based bottle connector.

When you need a drink, you twist the bottle, and it releases from the plate; to reconnect just pop it on and let the magnets do their magic. The downside to the system is that you'll either need the proprietary Fidlock bottles or purchase the Boa Connector, which also limits how much you can squeeze the bottle. 

Arundel DTR / STR

(Image credit: Arundel )

Arundel DTR / STR

A side-load masterpiece

Material: Carbon | Weight: 25g

Best looking cage of the bunch
Lightweight and stronghold
Expensive

Based roughly on the popular Mandible cage, Arundel adapted the design to work as a side loader. Technically these are two difference cages; DTR stands for Down Tube Right, and STR stands for Seat Tube Right. Most full-suspension mountain bikes don't have seat-tube bottle bosses, so the STR can also be bolted to the downtube.

According to Arundel, these cages were developed over a two-year period and tested with MTB World Cup riders. At 25g the DTR and STR have plenty of hold, but command a pretty hefty price.

Alite Cannibal XC

(Image credit: Elite)

Elite Cannibal XC

Dual-side loader

Material: Reinforced fiberglass | Weight: 39g

Budget friendly,
Load from any angle
None

For most full-suspension MTBs space in the front triangle is limited and, if there happens to be bottle bosses at all, you'll most probably need a side-load cage. While it's only a minor inconvenience, the clever folks at Elite designed a side load cage that allows you access to the bottle from either side. 

The Cannibal XC is made from reinforced fibreglass, the wide opening allows you to basically throw the bottle in from any angle. The elastomer in the middle of the arms provides some purchase and allows the cage to adjust to different shaped bottles.

Tacx Deva

(Image credit: Tacx)

Tacx Deva

Brightness for the buck

Material: Polyamide and glass fibre | Weight: 32g

Vice-like strength
Lots of colour options
Not for frames low on space

Made from a blend of polyamide and glass fibre, the Tacx Diva has a tenacious hold and is surprisingly light on the scale. Weighing in at 32g, its cylindrical shape holds on tight through rock gardens and drops alike.

There is a full carbon version too, but the cheaper polyamide version is less than half the price, comes in 13 colours and offers the same bottle hold. 

Born and bred in Colorado, and now based in Australia, Colin comes from a ski racing background and started riding as a way to stay fit through the summer months. His father, a former European pro, convinced him to join the Colorado State University collegiate cycling team, and he hasn't stopped since. It's not often he pins on a number nowadays, and you'll likely find him in search of flowy singletrack, gravel roads and hairpin corners. Colin has worked at BikeRadar.com and is a regular contributor to Australian Mountain Bike and Cyclist magazines. Rides: BMC Team Machine SLR01 Trek Top Fuel 9 Ibis Ripley