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8 best cycling water bottles for staying hydrated on every ride

Whether it’s insulation, lightness or grip you’re looking for, you’ll find your next go-to bidon here

Charlie Allenby
Tuesday 02 March 2021 12:04
<p>With a transparent bottle you’ll be able to tell immediately how much water you have left, but your liquid will be less protected from warming</p>

With a transparent bottle you’ll be able to tell immediately how much water you have left, but your liquid will be less protected from warming

Cycling water bottles aren’t the most exciting accessory when it comes to adding some bling to your bike, but they are essential for staying hydrated on a ride. While you can of course use a normal reusable water bottle when heading out for a spin, there are some benefits if you opt for a cycling-specific one instead.

Unlike some water bottles (such as the wide-mouthed, Nalgene-style designs), cycling water bottles are built to be able to slot easily into a frame-mounted bottle cage. This enables you to carry the bottles on your bike, rather than in a bag – allowing you to drink on the go while letting your bike (rather than you) do the heavy lifting.

Read more: Where to buy Chris Froome’s full kit

Most cycling water bottles also have a ridge on their sides, giving you a firmer grip than a smooth, standard water bottle. Finally, their mouthpieces often don’t require you to use your hands to use, and can simply be opened and closed using your mouth.

Despite all cycling water bottles having the features listed above, they come in a variety of sizes and styles. From insulation to leak-free tops and ergonomic designs that make retrieving them from bottle cages easier, there is a cycling water bottle (or bidon, as they are sometimes called in road cycling) for you.

To help you find the right set, we put several of the best cycling water bottles to the test and shared our findings below. From lightweight carriers to heatproof builds that can withstand off-road trails, these are the best cycling water bottles to buy in 2021.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Camelbak podium dirt series chill insulated bottle

The insulated version of Camelbak’s podium dirt series is targeted at mountain bikers who want to be able to have a cool drink on the trailside without having to eat a mouthful of dirt or dust. The integrated mud cap kept the mouthpiece clean whatever the conditions, while we found that the added insulation helped drinks remain chilled throughout both short and long (four-hour-plus) rides. In fact, it quickly became our go-to water bottle, even when not riding off-road – the cap easily dealt with the grime and dirt that comes with riding a road bike during the winter.

Although it is slightly pricier than other picks, it was a cinch to clean – all parts can be separated to ensure you don’t miss any dirt that’s hiding in the crevices – and its BPA-, BPS- and BPF-free construction means it’s safe to use, time after time.

Tacx shiva water bottle

The shiva by Dutch brand Tacx is regularly used as the base water bottle by other cycling companies who simply slap their branding onto the design – so you know it’s a credible choice. Leak-proof and easy to hold while riding, the bottle features a screw-on cap to ensure that all of your water goes where you want it (in your mouth), while the lockable spout is easy to operate hands-free.

We found that its contents fared well in cooler temperatures but it didn’t take long for liquids to warm up on hot summer days. But then again, it’s a relatively inexpensive bottle, so this can be somewhat forgiven. The other downside is its slight 500ml capacity, but you could always buy an extra bottle cage and carry two on longer rides.

Elite fly

Being “the lightest” is a big thing in road cycling, where some riders focus on keeping the weight of their bike and accessories low at all costs. Enter the fly, from Elite. At just 54g in its 550ml size, the bottle weighs a fraction less than a tennis ball. Until you fill it with water, that is.

The Italian brand has managed to streamline the bottle’s structure by using an incredibly thin side wall, while the minimalistic cap has also been stripped down to the bare minimum. The result is a bottle that certainly felt light, but would lose shape when squeezed. The downside of all this weight saving is that we found the contents of the slender bottle to be at the mercy of the elements. It might be a price worth paying, however, if saving grams is your goal.

Rapha bidon, small

If you have a passion for fashion, premium clothing manufacturer Rapha has a bottle to go alongside your expensively assembled wardrobe (and as it’s one of the cheapest products in its lineup, it lets you get a slice of the action without truly splashing the cash). Available in 620ml or 750ml capacities, the bottle has an easy-to-use cap that offers a slightly softer plastic on its mouthpiece than most. We found this made it more pleasant to use than the harder ones on cheaper bottles.

It’s easy to squeeze without feeling flimsy and its leak-free build is another bonus. The only downside was that the printed graphics did scratch fairly easily when slotting it in and out of a bottle cage.

Camelbak podium chill insulated bottle

The podium chill insulated bottle from Camelbak was only pipped to the IndyBest top spot by its dirt series cousin because of its lack of cap – something we found came in handy when riding in mucky conditions. Otherwise, it’s pretty much exactly the same bottle.

What’s more, at £11, it’s cheaper than some other non-insulated bottles on this list and almost half the price of the more expensive dirt series. If you don’t tend to ride off-road or during the winter months, then it’s tough to beat.

Zefal sense grip bottle

You could be forgiven for thinking that the sense grip by French brand Zefal is a spitting image of the Tacx Shiva. But there are some subtle differences.

As its name suggests, the bottle feels very secure in the hand. This is the result of ridges on the neck that give you even more to latch on to when fumbling around, looking for your bottle cage. Available in 650ml or 800ml capacities, we were able to carry enough water for three-to-four hours riding in just two bottles without worrying that we would be left wanting. It also comes in four different colourways, allowing you to match the bottle to your bike.

Campagnolo ekar water bottle

The heritage Italian brand Campagnolo released its ekar gravel-focused components in 2020, and this is the range’s water bottle. Fairly simple in build, its indented neck is comfortable to hold, and (like Rapha), a softer plastic has been used on the mouthpiece for added comfort when drinking.

The only flaw we found was that its mouthpiece wasn’t covered from dirt on wet and muddy trails, which was a slight disappointment for something that is targeting the growing gravel market.

Fabric gripper bottle

Like the offering from Zefal, this bottle from Somerset-based Fabric goes big on grip. It does so by including eight rows of tiny, dotted bumps on the neck of the bottle. These combine to create a non-slip surface that makes grabbing the bottle out of its cage a seamless experience. We also found it stayed firmly stuck in our hands when riding and rehydrating at the same time. Its silicon, leak-free mouthpiece extends quite far before any water is released, making it harder to leave it open by mistake. And, at less than £10, it’s hard to beat if you’re on a tight budget.

The verdict: Water bottles for cyclists

It might be a bit of a mouthful but the Camelbak podium dirt series chill insulated bottle guarantees you won’t end up with one (of mud, that is). While it was the priciest bottle reviewed, its combination of insulation and a cap for the mouthpiece made it well worth the investment. The standard Camelbak podium chill insulated bottle was a close second, while the Fabric gripper and Zefal sense grip deserve honourable mentions thanks to their non-slip designs.

Read our article on the best bike locks to keep your bike safe and secure.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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