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Bike riding and water bottles go together like salt and pepper, bacon and eggs, and Saturday nights and awful TV entertainment.
So, I’ve never really understood why some bike manufacturers continue to produce bikes that don’t come with fixing holes for water bottle cages. Frustrating, isn’t it? You get this great new bike….you get your tight spandex on…fill up your water bottle and…find that there’s nowhere to stow it on the bike! What do they expect you to do? Hold it and cycle one-handed for 20 miles?! Sheesh…
I decided to do some research to find out what the best options were for installing water bottle cages on bikes without fixing holes. Thankfully I’ve found some great recommendations that hold bottles securely and are easy to install. Shall we take a look?
Drilling bottle cage holes
I started off my search by checking to see if it was possible to add the holes to a bike yourself.
The answer? Yes, it is. Would I do it? Absolutely not.
Look, if you’d like to give it a go then there’s a video below explaining the process. Frankly, it would terrify me to take a drill to my pride and joy like that. I know my drill bit would end up skating along the frame and wrecking the paintwork. And I’d probably get the holes in slightly the wrong place. Then have to drill them again…and again…until my bike ended up looking more like swiss cheese (and probably be just as sturdy)
Do this at your own risk, folks. But, to be honest, there are some far superior options that don’t involve taking a drill to your bike.
Best place to put water bottle on bike?
If you’ve seen water bottles fitted to bikes, then you’ve probably only seen them on the downtube (the part of the frame that goes from the handlebars down to the pedals).
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the only place that you’re allowed to keep a bottle on a bike. Happily, there are plenty of different places where you can stash drinks. In defense of the downtube, it’s a useful location as you can easily reach down to the bottle whilst you’re cycling and it doesn’t get in the way. However, there are other good places as well, depending on your preferences and the amount of water you need to carry. Try the handlebars, the seat tube, and the seatpost (i.e. just under the saddle). You can even get a bike wine bottle carrier that hangs from the top tube. Aah, the sophistication!
Water bottle cage no braze ons
Okay, let’s take a look at the options for installing a water bottle holder on a bike without fitting holes.
Zip tie water bottle cage
The cheapest way of fitting a water bottle cage to a bike is with trusty zip ties. They’re cheap, they’re readily available, and they kinda work okay-ish. First up, you’ll need to use them with bottle cages like these, where you can locate the zip ties at the top and bottom easily and they can sort of hook on securely.
I’ve tried this and it works okay, but it’s hard to get the zip ties tight enough so that the cage won’t start slipping around the tube as you pedal along. It gets really irritating when you have to keep stopping and rotating the cage back into position.
I’ve found that this method works best when (1) you don’t have any other options (maybe you’re on a bikepacking tour and your cage fixings break), or (2) you fit the cage onto the underside of the downtube or top tube. In this position, gravity is your friend, and it will keep the cage hanging straight down.
Bottle cage clamps
If you’ve already got a bottle cage and are wondering how to fit it, then this is a fantastic option from Kbrotech.
The clamp fits onto your frame tube wherever you need it and tightens up firmly with a hex key. You can then fit your bottle cage using the standard two screw holes.
A big plus is that you can fix this at any angle you want, so it doesn’t have to be parallel to your downtube say (I’m right-handed so I’ve adjusted the angle slightly to the right for easy access). This is a fantastic option, from a reliable manufacturer, and at a great price.
Bottle cage straps
Some bikes, such as full-suspension mountain bikes, don’t have much headroom over the downtube and so need a low-profile bottle cage mount.
This one, from SKS, gives a firm hold and keeps the cage really close to the frame. You can see it has the standard fixings for any bottle cage.
Going back to the space issues on full-sus MTBs, one useful tip is to use a side-loading bottle cage like this one from Lezyne. These are great because they allow the bottle to be taken out from the side, as well as from the top.
Strap on bike water bottle holder
If you haven’t bought a bottle cage yet, then this is a great option from SKS.
Two sturdy Velcro straps keep the supplied bottle cage securely fixed to whichever part of the frame you need it.
Quick-release bottle cage holder
I love these. I originally came across them in the somewhat less glamorous and sporty world of baby strollers. Where they can be fixed onto the stroller handles for on-the-go refreshments for baby and me.
However, it’s on a bike where these beauties really come into their own. They don’t need any bosses to fix them on your bike and they will attach literally anywhere. The best bit about them is how easy they are to fit. The quick-release clamps give a super-strong hold and are fast and easy to fit and remove. You can also set the cages at whatever angle you like dependent on your preference. Sorry kids, but I’m keeping these.
Best seat mounted water bottle cage
Looking for a dual water bottle holder for bike seat? Then this is a great one from Rockbros.
I think the seatpost is a great position for carrying water when you’re on a long-distance tour. If you’ve got one bottle on your downtube for easy drinking, then this will double your water-carrying capacity.
Not only that, but it keeps it stashed in a very aerodynamic position (behind my somewhat less aerodynamic butt…) The storage pockets are very useful as well and have plenty of room for chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. You know, all the essentials.