Been out for a ride and managed to lose your water bottle down your favourite technical trail? Don't worry...our guide of the best MTB bottle cages will help find the best fit for your bike and bottle.

Buying the best bottle cage for mountain biking isn’t just a matter of getting one of the best water bottles and something to hold it. It’s also about how secure it is over bumpy terrain, and how accessible it is on frames with limited space. Then there’s practicality, since some of the best mountain bike bottle cages even incorporate tool storage.

Ideally, you want something lightweight, sturdy and that holds your bottle securely. Other considerations include how it works with the suspension system on your full-sus bike, since some frames have limited internal space.

FidLock bottle and cage

The FidLock Twist Bottle and Bike Base is a modern and minimal solution to carrying water.

1. Fidlock Twist Bottle and Bike Base

Best low-profile bottle cage

Weight: 79g bottle, 22g cage | Sizes: 450, 590, 600ml | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Secure attachment
  • Available in multiple sizes
  • Barely noticeable when not in use

Reasons to avoid:

  • Pricey for a bottle cage
  • Can’t just buy regular spare bottles (unless you buy the uni-connector)

Fidlock’s magnetic bottle and cage is the sleekest system around, and totally secure on rough terrain. The magnets also self-align, so you only need to get the bottle roughly into the right position and it will snap into place. Choose from a variety of sizes, too; it’s available in 450ml, 590ml, 600ml and 800ml.

You can either use Fidlock’s own bottle or you can use your own with Fidlock’s twist uni-connector that has a BOA dial and two composite laces that loop around any size bottle, holding it securely against the bike. In spite of the pricey design, this is a system we highly recommend as it works like a charm, especially if your bike is pushed for frame space.

Read the full review of the Fidlock Twist Bottle and base system

Birzman BottleCleat

Birzman’s BottleCleat is a low-cost design that keeps your bike looking sleek.

2. Birzman BottleCleat

Best budget locking cage design

Weight: cleat 8g, bottle 105g | Colours: White or black | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Good value
  • Looks clean
  • Secure mounting

Reasons to avoid:

  • Only a single bottle size available
  • Not as easy to use as the Fidlock system

The Birzman BottleCleat is similar to the Fidlock in that there isn’t a ‘cage’ that encloses the bottle. Instead the bottle locks into a base plate, using a mechanical rather than magnetic system. There’s an audible snap when it locks into place, so you know when it’s engaged, but it’s a little more fiddly than the Fidlock… but then it’s also a third of the price.

You get two cleats in the box, left and right orientation (but you can just flip them over) and you don’t need to use specific mounting bolts, unlike Fidlock. The Birzman preserves those clean lines on your bike, weighs barely anything, and the cost is reasonable compared to the Fidlock.

Read the full review of the Birzman BottleCleat

SWAT compartment is a useful feature and cage holds handy mini-tool

The Specialized Zee cage (right) with SWAT tool attached.

3. Specialized Zee Cage II

Best side-loading bottle cage

Weight: 44g | Colours: Matt black, gloss black, or various colours | Rating: 10/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Simple
  • Cheap
  • Secure and effective

Reasons to avoid:

  • Not as sleek as a Fidlock or Birzman

Specialized’s Zee cage (it looks like the letter Z) was the first side-entry cage, designed to make it easier to insert a bottle in the congested space of a modern full-suspension frame. Since it came out, many copies have been launched, but the Specialized version remains top of the heap thanks to excellent security, a great price, and the ability to bolt on Specialized’s mini-tool at the base.

It’s available in two versions, the Zee right loads the bottle from the right on the down tube and left on the seat tube, while the Zee left is the reverse. Buy the cage alone for around £15, or upgrade to the cage and SWAT tool for £50.

Syncros MB Tailor Cage

The Syncros MB Tailor Cage is super practical.

4. Syncros MB Tailor Cage

Best bottle cage with tool storage

Weight: 217g | Options: Left or right-side entry | Tools: Torx T10, T25, spoke keys, 8mm bit, quick-link holder, chain breaker | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Secure, on-board tool storage
  • Tools included

Reasons to avoid:

  • No 6mm hex key or stiff-link remover
  • Tool tray is a little hard to remove

This multi-tasking bottle cage, which is available in left and right-handed side access versions, also has a slide-out drawer in its base that contains a range of essentials tools. It held our water bottle securely in place, even on rough terrain, and the storage means you’ve always got your essential tools to hand, bag or no bag.

That said, it is missing a few essentials like a 6mm hex key, and it’s not quite tough enough to give sufficient leverage to budge pedals or tighten linkage bolts. An alternative option is the Syncros IS Cache bottle cage, which comes with the above features plus a high-volume MTB pump.

Read the full review of the Syncros MB Tailor Cage

Topeak Ninja cage and Tubi 11 tool

The Topeak Ninja cage is expandable with accessories such as the Tubi 11 tool.

5. Topeak Ninja cage and Tubi 11 tool

Best modular cage design

Weight: 260g | Options: Three cage types | Rating: 9/10

Reasons to buy:

  • Modular design is robust and versatile

Reasons to avoid:

  • Heavier than some other options

Topeak’s Ninja Cage is fully expandable to include a range of tool mounts, allowing you to customise your bottle cage with all manner of on-bike storage. The side-access design is minimalist and allows for your multi tool to be bolted to the bottle cage.

Topeak offers multiple cage and tool box configurations to match frame space and orientation. But of course, the more features on the multi tool, the more it weighs and the more room it requires. The cage is stiff and holds a standard bottle securely, and the tool box doesn’t rattle or get seized up when covered in thick mud.

Read the full review of the Topeak Ninja Cage and Tubi 11 tool

How we tested

The staff at MBR use bottles cages a lot, and we’ve tested plenty on our regular mountain bike rides. We look at how easy they are to fit, what the potential space constraints might be when fitting them to different frame, how easy they are to place and remove a water bottle on the go, and how secure a filled water bottle is when riding down steep, rough and technical terrain.

Side-loading cages are popular these days, as frames get more congested.

How do I choose a water bottle cage for my mountain bike?

The three main things to consider when choosing the right bottle cage for mountain biking are retention, ease of access, and the space you have within the frame to fit cage and bottle. That means, the bottle cage needs to be grippy enough to hold the bottle in place through rough terrain and the bottle should be easy to take out and put back on on-the-go.

FidLock bottle and cage

The FidLock Bike Base preserves the clean lines of your frame when not in use.

There are several ways that a bottle cage can be mounted on a bike.

Side loading: This kind of bottle cage allows for easier access to your bottle, especially when you don’t have a lot of frame space.

Top loading: Looking purely for proper grip and not too fussed about the accessinfo your bottle on the go that much? This one’s for you!

Fidlock: I’m sure I’ve banged on about Fidlock enough towards the beginning of this guide, but a simple magnetic system that bolts to your frame and allows for your bottle to be clipped in and out easily makes this not just one of the most secure bottle cages but also one of the easiest to access.

Freestyle: If you’ve got no eyelets on the bike for bottle cages (highly unlikely) or if the eyelets aren’t exactly where you’d like them to be, you can always go for a bottle cage that attaches to your bike using something similar to voile straps.

SKS Anywhere Bottle Cage Adapter

SKS Anywhere Bottle Cage Adapter lets you fit an extra cage.

Do bottle cages fit all the bikes?

To fit most bottle cages, you bike will need to have eyelets in the frame to attach them too with the bolts that usually come supplied either with the bike or the cage. Most bikes that have these eyelets will be able to fit a bottle cage, but if space it tight that might effect what size bottle you can use with it, and whether you need to access it from the side or not.

On full suspension bikes with smaller frames, there may not be enough space to fit a bottle cage, and/or there may not be the requisite eyelets to allow one to be fitted. In that case, choosing a good hydration pack can be your best option for carrying water.