Are Carbon Water Bottle Cages Worth It?

Condensed answer: Carbon water bottle cages have their benefits, but they’re more of a luxury than a necessity because the component has a low impact on performance.

What Are The Benefits Of a Carbon Water Bottle Cage?

1. Lightweight

Carbon water bottle cages are lighter than cages made of steel, aluminum, and plastic.

The entry-level models are hovering around 30-35 grams whereas the mid and high-range versions drop below 20 grams.

Meanwhile, average aluminum and steel cages can easily reach 50+ grams.

The table below contains the weight of numerous carbon cage models:

ModelWeight (metric)Weight (imperial)
3min19sec31 grams 1.1oz
Elite Leggero 202018 grams0.63oz
Elite Vico 202023 grams0.81oz
Elite Rocko27 grams0.95oz
Specialized S-Works24 grams0.85oz
BEAST Components AMB Bottle17 grams0.60oz
Ritchey WCS32 grams1.1oz
Supacaz Fly Cage28 grams0.99oz
Black Inc28 grams0.99oz
Elite Leggero15 grams0.53oz
Merida Carbon Light Sideload20 grams0.71oz
Tacx T6102 Deva21 grams0.74oz
Topeak Shuttle Cage20 grams0.71oz
BBB Left BBC-38L 29 grams1oz
PRO UD26 grams0.92oz
Campagnolo Chorus35 grams1.2oz
Zipp SL Speed Carbon 18 grams0.63oz
Blackburn Cinch16 grams0.56oz
Elite Prism Carbon Left29 grams1oz
SKS Pure Carbon19 grams0.67oz
Average weight:23.8 grams 0.84oz
Carbon Cages

The next table contains the weight of composite (plastic, nylon, fiberglass…etc.) cages:

Model Weight (metric)Weight (imperial)
3min19sec 29 grams1oz
Elite Custom Race43 grams1.5oz
Elite Custom Race Plus40 grams1.4oz
SKS Topcage53 grams1.9oz
Tacx T615432 grams1.1oz
Specialized Rib Cage33 grams1.2oz
Tacx Ciro T6500 29 grams1oz
Elite Cannibal XC40 grams1.4oz
SKS Slidecage 49 grams1.7oz
Blackburn Slick23 grams0.81oz
Syncros Tailor 3.047 grams1.7oz
Elite Prism Left48 grams1.7oz
BC Basic30 grams1.1oz
Profile Design Stryke Kage40 grams1.4oz
CATEYE BC-10029 grams1oz
Profile Design Vise Kage25 grams0.88oz
Topeak Shuttle Cage53 grams1.9oz
Profile Design Axis Kage 45 grams1.6oz
Tacx Radar45 grams1.6oz
SKS Dual Bottle28 grams0.99oz
Average:31.08 grams1.1oz
Composite Cages

The next table contains the weight of steel cages:

ModelWeight (metric)Weight (imperial)
King Cage Stainless Steel48 grams1.7oz
King Cage Iris Cage48 grams1.7oz
BC Basic42 grams1.5oz
Elite Ciussi Inox 48 grams1.7oz
Wolf Tooth Components Morse58 grams2.0oz
NITTO Bottle Cage53 grams1.9oz
Ritchey Classic Stainless Steel43 grams1.5oz
Elite Morèo Inox 48 grams1.7oz
Chicane Stainless Steel Bottle Cage41 grams1.4oz
Wabi Cycles Stainless Steel45 grams1.6oz
Planet X Stainless Steel Cage40 grams1.4oz
Arundel Stainless Steel Cage52 grams1.8oz
SALSA Bottle Cage Nickless Cage50 grams1.8oz
Average: 47.38 grams1.7oz
Stainless Steel Cages

The table below contains the weight of aluminum cages:

ModelWeight (metric)Weight (imperial)
Blackburn Comp Bottle Cage47 grams47g= 1.7oz
PRO Classic Bottle Cage60 grams2.1oz
Elite Ciussi Bottle Cage73 grams2.6oz
Procraft New Sideclip37 grams1.3oz
Topeak DualSide45 grams1.6oz
BBB FuelTank BBC-0360 grams2.1oz
Elite Ciussi Gel Bottle Cage75 grams2.6oz
Topeak Shuttle Cage AL Bottle49 grams1.7oz
Zipp Alumina Bottle Cage27 grams0.95oz
PRO Aluminium Bottle Cage48 grams1.7oz
SKS Wirecage Bottle Cage50 grams1.8oz
Average:51.9 grams1.8oz
Aluminum cages

The final table shows the weight of some titanium cages.

ModelWeight (metric)Weight (imperial)
SILCA Sicuro Titanium Bottle Cage29 grams1oz
King Cage Titanium Bottle Cage28 grams0.99oz
Wolf Tooth Components Morse Titanium Bottle Cage32 grams1.1oz
J.GUILLEM Cage38 grams1.34oz
Average:31.75 grams1.1oz
Titanium Cages

Conclusion:

The average weight of carbon cages is 23.8 grams. They’re lighter than all other cages and cheaper than some titan models too.

Those properties make them attractive to people who want the lightest possible cage for a fairly acceptable price.

2. Aesthetics

Carbon’s appearance is one of the main reasons why cyclists like it.

Many see average plastic cages as “dull” whereas carbon has a “spaceship look”.

3. Premium Feel

If you have an expensive carbon bike, an ordinary aluminum or steel cage could be seen as an improper stylistic fit, and a way to spoil a luxurious product.

Installing a low tier cage on a high-end bike is similar to putting a cheap 1-dollar cup holder in a Ferrari.

A carbon water bottle cage, on the other hand, preserves the luxury aura of the bicycle.

4. No Deformation or Twisting

Some people experience unpleasant deformation and twisting when using a metal cage.

Conversely, carbon and composite cages are rock solid and do not change their shape during use.

What Are The Downsides of Carbon Cages?

1. Price

The major shortcoming of carbon cages is the price tag. Some models cost more than USD 50. For the same amount of money, you can easily buy multiple cages made of another material.

The price tag is the main obstacle stopping people from purchasing carbon cages.

2. Inflexibility

A steel water bottle cage can be bent to accommodate a larger or smaller bottle without suffering from structural compromises. This is possible because steel is a strong and elastic material allowing the user to cold set (bend) it.

To a certain extent, the same can be done with an aluminum cage, but one should expect some loss of strength because aluminum is soft and loses integrity upon reshaping.

Carbon cages, on the other hand, shouldn’t be re-bent because the material can be damaged irreversibly.

3. Sudden Failure

Unlike steel which is more likely to bend than break, carbon just snaps upon impact.

If your steel cage deforms during a fall, you may be able to put it back into shape, but the same cannot be done with carbon cages broken into multiple pieces.

4. Scratched Bottles

Carbon cages with poor design and/or finish may scratch the water bottle with their rough edges.

5. Non-suitable For Beater Bikes

If you want your bicycle to be a “stealthy beater” (deterring thieves with its cheap look), a shiny carbon cage wouldn’t fit the project.


Do Carbon Bottle Cages Offer a Performance Boost?

The weight savings that a carbon water bottle cage offers are too minuscule to make a difference. An average and even an experienced cyclist will not be hindered if their water bottle cage is 60 grams instead of 30 grams.

The percentage difference between the two is large, but the weight isn’t substantial enough to harm one’s performance.

But even if those grams were essential, you can easily lose them by skipping a meal or keeping your water bottle only 90% full.


Some cyclists say that they prefer carbon water bottle cages for their retention properties, but a quality aluminum or steel cage can hold a bottle just as well.

The Design Is Essential

The material of a bottle cage is only one part of the equation. The design and the build quality are of great importance too.

With the right design, a cage made of aluminum or even steel can become lighter than poorly engineered carbon models.

What’s Wrong With Using An Aluminum Cage on a Carbon Bike?

Technically, nothing. There are great aluminum cages. Some are even lighter than carbon models.

People criticize this practice for reasons that relate more to fashion than function.

Carbon frames are supposed to be an upgrade over aluminum. Putting an aluminum cage on one is seen as poor attention to detail and a way to spoil the lines of the bike.

In practice, however, none of this matters.

Summary

  • Carbon cages are aesthetically pleasing but have no direct effect on one’s performance. If your bike is lacking elsewhere, it will be wiser to rely on a cheap cage and invest the remaining money in parts that have a greater carryover to your cycling.
  • Carbon cages are very light and compliment the looks of a modern carbon bike.

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