HOW TO CHOOSE BICYCLE BOTTLES – BUYERS GUIDE

Shaun George BOTS Guides, E-commerce, Tips & Tricks, Triathlon

Hydration is essential when cycling – in fact not just for cycling, any sport requires sufficient levels of hydration before, during, and after the activity. Now when it comes to water bottles you can’t really go wrong with what you pick, they’re fairly simple products.

WHAT BOTTLE DO I NEED

Cycling water bottles aren’t too sport-specific. All sports water bottles are functionally very similar – refillable containers that hold liquid, with a spout that allows you to drink that liquid. Even a simple bottle the price of a bag of peanuts will do the job of holding your water so you can drink it when you’re thirsty. That being said, there are a few very small but important differences between any normal sport water bottle and a cycling water bottle.

There are a few things to take into consideration, particularly – discipline, weather conditions, ease of drinking, ergonomics, and materials choice. All these factors have led to very specifically designed hydration systems for bikes these days.

THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

SHAPE

This is one of those areas where a cycling bottle differs from other bottles structurally. The bottle shape is important.

Cycling bottles must be shaped so that they fit snugly into a standard bottle cage, with a moulded ‘collar’ to prevent them from flying out on impact with bumps. Running bottles and flasks are often slimmer and easier in the hand but will most definitely fall off your bike when on bumpy roads or after a slight knock.

MATERIALS

Many outdoor hikers carry insulated bottles that are made of a stainless steel outer cover. These kinds of bottles must be avoided while cycling as they can slip out of hand very easily and are quite heavy.

Cycling bottles are a lot lighther and can conform to bottle cages. Plastics used to make bottles include high-density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and polypropylene. LDPE is the least rigid so is usually used for ‘squeezy’ bottles, while polypropylene and copolyester (which is also transparent) are harder and more rigid. Look for materials free from bishenol-A (BPA), a material used in polycarbonate plastics over which health concerns have been raised.

Many bottle manufacturers these days use surface treatments that claim to prevent that ‘plasticky’ taste leaching into the water flavor, which can happen when the bottle heats up in the sun – one reason to spend a few extra cents on a better-quality bottle.

There are quite a few cycling bottles by Camelbak and Polar that are insulated too. These are great on hot sunny days when you want something nice and cool to sip on.

CAPACITY

How much liquid do you need to carry? Water bottles vary in capacity, from the standard sizes of 500ml, 750ml, and sometimes 1ltr.

Most cyclists opt for the 750ml size, mounting anywhere between one to four bottles depending on the distance they intend to cover. One is usually filled with water and the others with some sort of hydration fluid.

MOUTH INTERFFACE

Mouth types vary, from simple ‘push-pull’ type click valves to more complex types. A lockable valve, for example, can help prevent spillage while riding, while a one-way flow valve may make liquid intake easier (they are self-closing so you don’t have to remember to open or close them).

You may also wish to consider flow rate – a large-aperture spout and squeezable bottle will offer a high flow rate for when you need a quick burst of liquids, helping you get hydrated quickly, such as in a race situation.

COLOUR

If you are just going to be drinking water, colour isn’t too much of a consideration – it will still be better to stick to lighter shades as they will stay cooler when the sun is out.

Transparency also comes into play for anyone who intends to mix supplemental powders to see how much water they have put into the bottle in order to get the mix right. Hence the popularity of transparent bottles with graduated measuring strips on the side (like your measuring jug for cooking), or transparent viewing strips on non-transparent bottles.

You might also want to consider matching your bottle cages, bottles, and bike frame colour if you care about that sort of stuff.


Most water bottles will do the job just fine. Take into account the “collar” that we find to be especially helpful if your bottles are prone to falling off. A insulated bottle is another major consideration to make in case you ride long distances in the heat (it can keep hot things hot too).

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