Of all the things I have on my bike, the one accessory I least paid attention to was my bottle cages. After all, bottle cages are meant to be utilitarian, and provided they don’t clash horribly with your bike’s paint job or your team kit, the chances that anyone will ever comment on the piece of plastic or metal that you use to hold a water bottle is minimal. And when stacked up against all the things that make you a better rider, bottle cages rarely mean the difference between a win and a loss.
When I needed a cages for my bike, I walked into a store and went for what seemed cheapest and sturdiest. I didn’t worry about weight — the benefit of carbon cages is negligible, in my opinion, and just not worth $50 you’d drop per cage — much less whether the cages were retro or made of aluminum or plastic. I just reached and grabbed the Trek Bat Cage, a simple, black hard-plastic cage. These things go for $12 a pop; how could anyone say no?
To be honest, I was a little put off by how snug these things held the bottles at first. The bottles don’t slide out of the Bat Cage — you have to give them a hefty tug to free them from the cage’s hold. But this ended up being to my benefit last year when I jumped into the Poolesville Road Race, my first race as a newly-minted Cat 4. As we hit the gravel section, it didn’t take 100 feet before the large number of potholes sent bottles flying out of cages. I saw guys lose both their bottles in one fell swoop, and with 40 miles to go on a hot day, that’s not a good thing. Mine stayed put, courtesy of the Bat Cage’s proprietary death grip. Best $12 I ever spent, especially when compared to the carbon cages that while may have been lighter, also failed to do the one thing they’re supposed to do — hold your bottle.
I suppose my cage did stand between me finishing in the race and dropping out in a fit of dehydration. The Bat Cage proves that sometimes simple and cheap is exactly the way to go when it comes to some accessories for your bike.