Sure, a metal bottle cage gets the job done, but to get really light and maintain your carbon bike’s aesthetic, you gotta go carbon. Some of the cages here have been on my test bikes for years, others joined the party this spring. All have been ridden extensively and proven over varied terrain. Here are five of the best carbon cages I’ve ever used.
Leading in the weight department is Laguna Bicycles. At just 17g claimed, it’s almost non-existent with a beautiful barely-there aesthetic sure to please minimalists. Fortunately, it also does a decent job holding water bottles, too. The upper edge is flared outward just slightly to ease blind bottle entry, helping you keep your eyes on the road.
With a UD exterior finish and woven carbon inside and its wispy lines, it gets my vote for best looking cage, too. And did I mention ours weighed in at only 15g?
I used it on road rides with a few gravel sections with the oversized Polar bottle and it holds tight enough. On rougher sections, the bottle shook a bit more than usual, which kept me from trying it for cyclocross or mountain biking. To be fair, the Polar bottle is twice as tall as the cage and quite heavy when full, but my gut tells me to keep this cage on the road unless you’re running smaller 20oz bottles. Retail is $49.99 from LagunaBicycles.com. They make a side entry version that comes in at a claimed 20g, too.
PARLEE x ARUNDEL
Next up the weight scale is the Parlee-stickered Arundel Mandible cage. While Parlee makes a lot of their own carbon cockpit parts and accessories in house, they liked the Mandible so much, they simply partnered with Arundel to offer it on their own bikes and keep the branding clean.
At 26g, it’s still very light and also uses a minimal aesthetic. A flared entry band keeps ingress easy, and this one holds tight. I tested it while we had the Parlee Chebacco in for long term review and rode it hard over washboard dirt roads at downhill speeds, through my local ‘cross training trail and all over the roads. The bottle never once even tried to escape. At $75, it’s the most expensive in the test, but if you’re getting a custom Parlee, then price isn’t likely a concern. Get it on Parlee’s website and check out their sweet carbon fiber FD mount while you’re there.
My go-to standard for lightweight, solid retention and ease of use has long been the Blackburn Camber. Since I got mine, it’s been rebooted with a UD finish or your choice of eight other glossy colors that get contrasting inside/outside color schemes (ex. gloss black exterior, gloss orange interior).
Mine came in at 26g, claimed weight for the new ones is 30g. Like the others, its flared entry makes bottle return smooth and easy. I’ve never lost a bottle with the Blackburn Camber, regardless of terrain. Retail is $49.99 in stores or at BlackburnDesign.com. I also have to give a shout out to their
Coming in just a gram heavier at 27g, is the Ethic carbon bottle cage. Ethic launched at NAHBS 2015 as the house brand for Alchemy Bicycles, so it’s made in house in Denver, CO, alongside their amazing frames. If you’re looking for a US-made option, this is it. There’s a little love in each one, and they can be custom painted to match anything for as little as a $20 upcharge.
Like the Blackburn cage, this one holds very tight despite having the least over wrap of the bunch. Ours weighed in at 27g, but we weighed one at NAHBS at 26g, putting it on par with the other two above it. I noticed that the tub-like design of the base did catch a little dust, so if you routinely ride in muddy conditions, you might see some accumulation under your bottle that’ll need to be wiped out. Retail is $59.99 from Alchemy.bike.
We’ve put Shimano’s Pro Components UD Carbon water bottle cage through the ringer at TranSylvania Epic, trying our darnedest to shake a bottle out of it over Pennsylvania’s notorious rock gardens. All to no avail. It held tight and continues to do so years later.
At 32g, it’s the heaviest of the bunch, but still. That’s on par with some of the lightest metal cages but with a shape that won’t deform or weaken over time. It’s not listed on the PRO website anymore (no cages are, actually), but you can still find it on Amazon and other online bike retailers. If you just like the shape and want a cheaper, all-black plastic version for much less and about the same weight.