When I knew Ernest Cuska, the long-time owner of Cycles Alex Singer, he did not have bottle cages on his bikes. After riding with him a few times, I realized why: He did not drink anything while riding. Imagine my surprise when I looked at old photos of him and saw a bottle on the down tube of every one of his bikes (above during the Tour de France Cyclotouriste 1950). When he was younger and one of the fastest cyclosportifs of France, even he had to hydrate while riding.
When I was a teenager, putting a bottle cage on my bike was the first act of becoming a “serious” cyclist. No longer did I just ride around town, but I was riding for hours now, and I needed to carry a drink. (In those days, it was water with a little lemon juice.)
At the time, everybody used the inexpensive TA aluminum bottle cages. They worked well, but eventually, they broke. We tried extra-sturdy cages from Specialized, but they also broke, albeit a little later. When I moved to the United States, I discovered the American Classic bottle cages, which lasted much longer and held the bottles more securely. All these cages were made from aluminum, so they marked the bottles.
On my new bike, I did not want grungy-looking bottles, so I needed a steel bottle cage. TA used to make steel cages (above), but they were heavy, and they got rusty, especially if your bottles contained electrolytes (salt). Fortunately, Nitto offers stainless steel bottle cages that are lightweight, hold the bottle securely, don’t rust, and look beautiful.
There are three models:
The R Cage (above) consists of two wire loops that act like a spring. It holds your bottle very securely.
The R80 Cage is similar, but made from stainless steel tubing rather than wire. This reduces the weight by 20% (10 g).
The T Cage is the most beautiful cage I know. It has a closed loop on top, which holds the bottle very securely even when it is mounted underneath the top tube. However, because it has no spring action, inserting the bottle requires more precision, and some bottles may rattle.
Nitto bottle cages are hand-made in small batches. They can be hard to find. We sell the products we like and use on our own bikes, so Compass Bicycles now carries Nitto bottle cages. Click here for more information.