Mountain bikers are very particular when it comes to the bike, components, and gears they have.
One of the things that usually catches the eye of cyclists is water bottle cages. They’re an essential must-have for all riders out there because this allows you to gain direct access to your water without stopping your bike. It’s all about hydration.
But the thing is, it’s not just about that. In fact, water bottle cages have been the center of attention of the riders who are more into aesthetics and the so-called bragging rights.
That’s where carbon water bottle cages come in.
Not only are they more expensive, but they are also more fragile and lighter.
So, what’s with these carbon water bottle cages? And are they worth it?
Let’s find out.
Benefits of Having a Carbon Water Bottle Cage
One of the best things about having a carbon water bottle cage is that they are lighter than their aluminum alloy and steel counterparts.
What’s more, is that they are also lighter than the plastic ones. Budget entry-level carbon cages that are made from China weigh around 30 to 35 grams. Meanwhile, the mid-level and high-end models go as low as 20 grams or even 15 to 10 grams.
This is the reason why they are very enticing for people who want to get the lightest bike possible.
Carbon water bottle cages are more aesthetic than the steel and aluminum alloy models. This is because they don’t have any welding marks.
They also look shinier and sleeker because of their smooth finish. Plastic bottle cages look dull, while the steel and alloy ones have an industrial feel. The carbon ones, on the other hand, have more of a spaceship look.
A carbon water bottle cage makes perfect sense if you also have a carbon bike or a high-end mountain bike.
Why would you even put a cheap plastic or alloy bottle cage if you have 2021 Nukeproof Mega or a Santa Cruz Megatower CC? It’s just like putting a corduroy seat cover on a Ferrari. Match your bike and make sure you put the right parts and components your bike deserves.
Another nice thing about carbon water bottle cages is that they don’t twist or get deformed. These things are very common for metal cages. However, carbon cages are rock solid and they don’t change shape even if they are used all the time.
Disadvantages of Carbon Water Bottle Cages
The price is the obvious disadvantage of water bottle cages. Their price ranges from $50 to even $200. Compare that to the $5 to $10 average price of metal bottle cages
This is also one of the biggest reasons why there are only a few people who prefer carbon cages. It’s all about practicality. What’s more, is that they don’t look very different compare to metal cages if they’ve got dirt or mud on them.
Steel bottle cages can be deformed and flex. This means that they can be bent to accommodate larger or small water bottles without getting any damage. However, this doesn’t happen with carbon cages.
A carbon water bottle is not flexible, which means that it can be damaged if they are bent. They are made and knitted with thin carbon fiber layers. And making these layers move leads to cracks and irreversible damage.
A carbon water bottle cage can snap if it’s bent too much or if you fall off your bike and hit the bottle cage head-on. Materials made from carbon can snap if the flex they received is too much. So, you need to be very careful if you have a carbon water bottle cage.
Things to Consider When Buying a Carbon Water Bottle Cage
The first thing you need to consider when buying a carbon water bottle cage is the size. Are you going to place a 750 ml water bottle on it, or maybe a smaller 500 ml bottle?
The last thing you want is to have a very small cage where your bottle can’t fit, or maybe a very large cage that’s too big for your bottle. You need to make sure you get the right measurement so you won’t waste money.
Contrary to many bikers out there who are very budget-conscious, the brand is a very important thing to consider because this is where durability and quality depend.
Although this doesn’t mean all branded and expensive cages are of higher quality than the cheaper ones, most of them are. The top brands out there are Lezyne, Specialized, Nukeproof, Topeak, and Bontrager bat cage.
Choose whether you are going for a carbon cage or an alloy cage. If you want the most premium one, then get carbon or titanium cage. If you want a middle-end one, then get the alloy.
But if you just don’t care too much and just want a reliable cage, then it’s best you just get a metal or steel bottle cage. Just don’t buy the plastic ones because they are unreliable and can break easily.
Do mountain bikers need a carbon bottle cage?
Yes, but not really. In reality, it is not much of a big deal because these just hold the water bottle. Mountain bikers can use hydration bladders or hydration packs instead which have tubes that stick out of the bag and onto their chest.
Bottles mounted on bikes can fall out if you go through aggressive terrain or do jumps and drops, which are very common for mountain biking, especially if you are into downhill or enduro.
Carbon bottle cages can also break easily if they get a direct impact. However, if you have a high-end bike and you want to get the best possible parts for your mountain bike, then there is no denying you need a carbon water bottle.
Carbon water bottle cages are worth it if you also have a high-end bike to pair it with, or if you have the money and impulse to make your book look good as possible.
Just weigh things out, consider your riding discipline, budget, and purpose, and you’ll come up with the right decision whether you’re going to get a carbon water bottle cage or not.