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Help me overthink the under downtube water bottle cage.

Old 09-13-23, 07:42 AM
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Help me overthink the under downtube water bottle cage.

I recently put a frame bag on my "Adventure" bike. I will ride anything on the bike, gravel, road, single track, bike packing, etc but it's mainly used on rough gravel around the house for training miles. 50% gravel. 40% road. 10% single track. I still want a water bottle cage on the bike so the under downtube cage position will finally be used. The question I've been pondering is, what's the best bottle cage for this position?

Do I go with a polymer cage? I use Specialized Z Cages on all my other bikes because they are tough and hold a bottle great. But I have broken a Z Cage before Would suck to be on a weekend adventure ride and break a cage and lose the ability to carry a bottle.

ALuminum? I have a nice heavy duty aluminum cage in the standard shape/size. Nice fillet welds holding the extra thick rod cage to an extra thick mount. Really solid. Bend but won't break. But it is aluminum. And the standard bottle cage shape is stronger inside of the triangle there the rods of the cage than upside down outside of it where the rods of the cage have to hold the full weight of the bottle ni the weakest orientation. Couple of good rough spots might loosen the tension and cause the bottle to fall out?

Pony up the dough for a Stainless or Ti cage like a King Cage?

What's the ultimate bottle cage for upside down under the downtube use? Got anything you've used for thousands of miles that has proven the test of time in that position? Or maybe I'm just over thinking the lowly bottle cage and pretty much anything works down there?
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Old 09-13-23, 08:04 AM
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Do you have a few bottle cages laying around unused on the shelf somewhere? Put one on and start figuring out what works and what doesn't. The few times I need enough extra water bottles to use the underside of the downtube, I just tape it on with electrical tape or long double sided velcro strips. Though it sounds like this is going to be your only water bottle. Will you be able to retrieve it while riding or are you planning on stopping every time you want a drink?

Or maybe I'm just over thinking the lowly bottle cage and pretty much anything works down there?
You might be. But I'm sure some work better than others.

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Old 09-13-23, 08:16 AM
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You can't go wrong with King cages.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:20 AM
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Portland design works. I've never dealt with a ti cage that wasn't too flimsy to trust down there but most cages aren't designed to be installed upside down and oppose a bottle being yanked out by gravity and bouncing. I've got the otter cages on both my cross bikes, they're not light and I think they're aluminum, but they're clearly overbuilt and really grip the bottle.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:23 AM
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Are you concerned about all the dirt/dust/mud getting kicked up on the bottle in that position? Don't know if it's really a problem or not, I've just heard people worry about that a lot.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth
Portland design works. I've never dealt with a ti cage that wasn't too flimsy to trust down there but most cages aren't designed to be installed upside down and oppose a bottle being yanked out by gravity and bouncing. I've got the otter cages on both my cross bikes, they're not light and I think they're aluminum, but they're clearly overbuilt and really grip the bottle.
Originally Posted by himespau
Are you concerned about all the dirt/dust/mud getting kicked up on the bottle in that position? Don't know if it's really a problem or not, I've just heard people worry about that a lot.
Both of these issues are real.

I lost a storage bottle full of tubeless repair stuff on a bumpy trail when my bottle self ejected and I didn't realize it until much later. I've not replaced it down there.

And, even with full length fenders, my water bottles seem to get covered with dust and dirt. I'd highly recommend a bottle with a flip cover over the opening for use on a gravel bike.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by himespau
Are you concerned about all the dirt/dust/mud getting kicked up on the bottle in that position? Don't know if it's really a problem or not, I've just heard people worry about that a lot.
I have some of the Camelbak bottles with the rubber covers that protect the drank'n hole. Hopefully that works well enough to keep it clean.
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Old 09-13-23, 08:39 AM
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It's not like you're going to be accessing the bottle while riding. Years ago on my long distance touring bike, I had 3 cages: seat tube, upper side of downtube, underside of downtube. The only time I needed to get to the lower bottle was when the two uppers were empty, and I stopped and swapped it out.
Of course, I was riding on-road only, so massive bumps and dirt weren't really an issue. However, I would think a wrap of something like electrical tape (it holds well, but can easily be removed) around the bottle and cage would keep it in place until needed. If dirt is a concern, either a flip top type bottle, or a bit of plastic food wrap and a rubber band over the cap would keep it clean. As long as the cage itself is strong enough not to break, you should be okay.
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Old 09-13-23, 01:50 PM
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Funny how this thread pops up just as I attached a third bottle cage on my Surly LHT's downtube underside. I didn't give this much thought at all. If anything, it gave me an excuse to head down to the New York Bike Jumble this previous Saturday in Park Slope, Brooklyn to pick a bottle cage up along with other miscellaneous items. I won't be out that much money if this should turn out to be unworkable.

Anyway, the problem I'm having is that my bottles are making contact with the front-wheel fender.

These two bottles are similar but not completely identical in size:



The blue bottle makes slight contact with the fender. The red bottle does so a little more than slightly.

The bottle cage I picked up was a Specialized Rib Cage II but I chose to move one of the bottle cages already mounted on the LHT down to the underside while mounting the Rib Cage II to the seat tube in its place. I wasn't sure that I would want to put a plasticy bottle cage on the underside. It's supposedly made of "Reinforced composite material".

I guess Plan A will be to mount that Rib Cage II on the underside to see if that may offer more room for a water bottle. Plan B will be to find a smaller water bottle that can be placed in the cage.
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Old 09-13-23, 02:43 PM
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Since you won't be accessing it on the fly, I would think a velcro/elastic strap or some other similar sort of anchor could secure the bottle in place. I have a strap I made with a backpack buckle on an old inner tube .... I can tighten it was much as I want and it is Not going to break under the strain of a full water bottle.
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Old 09-13-23, 02:49 PM
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Originally Posted by BJack312
You can't go wrong with King cages.
I have a pair of King SS cages on my road bike that are 7 years old. They look like new.

OP: What else are you going to carry water in? I canít imagine one bottle being enough.
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Old 09-13-23, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I have a pair of King SS cages on my road bike that are 7 years old. They look like new.

OP: What else are you going to carry water in? I canít imagine one bottle being enough.
Short 1-2 hour rides I just shove a bottle or two in my frame bag. I will unscrew the top of the lower bottle and just refill the upper bottle. Longer rides I'll use a bladder in the frame bag.

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Old 09-13-23, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by estasnyc
Funny how this thread pops up just as I attached a third bottle cage on my Surly LHT's downtube underside...
Anyway, the problem I'm having is that my bottles are making contact with the front-wheel fender.
These two bottles are similar but not completely identical in size:
The blue bottle makes slight contact with the fender. The red bottle does so a little more than slightly....
I guess Plan A will be to mount that Rib Cage II on the underside to see if that may offer more room for a water bottle. Plan B will be to find a smaller water bottle that can be placed in the cage.
I would guess both the blue and red bottles in your pics are 26oz. I'd try a smaller 22oz bottle to see if it fits/works.
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Old 09-13-23, 03:24 PM
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Oversized cage with 40 oz Kleen Kanteen under the down tube; feedbag (stem bag) with normal water bottle up top.

https://bikepacking.com/index/oversi...-bike-touring/
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Old 09-13-23, 06:57 PM
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When I've toured ( mostly good pavement ) I covered the third bottle with a plastic sleeve like they put on cups in motels. Otherwise, gum and all manner of crap gets flung on the bottle by the front wheel.
Used sturdy plastic cages without issues. You could use a Velcro strap if you need more security.
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Old 09-13-23, 06:59 PM
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I would do a King Cage or PDW cage, I have an PDW Owl cage on my touring bike in the bottom position where I usually mount my gas bottle for my Whisperlite stove or another bottle if needed. Beyond those companies I generally avoid other cages. I have 12 mounted PDW cages and 5 mounted Ti King Cages (though technically one is custom and holds a Snow Peak flask but might be now available from King Cage). I just got a new bike that came with some Specialized Z-Cages but those are going away aside from one (unless I find a better cage for that particular item) in favor of PDW or King Cages.

In terms of dirty bottles, I use the bottle purely for storage of water not for drinking so I will have a mud guard on my bottle but that bottle generally just gets poured into my main bottle. With the mud cap I can wipe it off and drink from it if needed but I usually didn't do that.
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Old 09-13-23, 07:22 PM
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A steel cage like a King SS can be bent to hold the bottle snug. And/or, you can use a Velcro or other strap. No need to think anymore.
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Old 09-13-23, 07:37 PM
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Old 09-13-23, 08:42 PM
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King Cage Iris is gorgeous and will never release a bottle; my oldest pair have well over 50k miles and have never even needed to be tweaked back into shape -- the design is so clever that they will never stretch out.

And if you're carrying a bottle under the downtube, get this, or something like it. Trust me.
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Old 09-13-23, 09:05 PM
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- King Cage Iris model, as just mentioned. The shape doesn't change even when mounted under the downtube I have one there and have used it on multiple long rides where it holds a full bottle of water for a couple hours of gravel bumpy riding.

- use a velcro strap to hold the bottle to the downtube if you are concerned the weight will bend or break the cage.

- take an honest look at if you actually need that massive full frame bag for 80% of your rides. If you don't, just use it when you have some unique ride that calls for a full frame bag. Otherwise, get rid of the wind sail and use an easily accessible cage inside the triangle.
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Old 09-14-23, 08:33 AM
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On my touring bike I have a Giant H2O cage mounted under the down tube. They have two cages, a cheap one, and one that is just a few bucks more that is made of a larger diameter alloy rod and has a different shape. I holds a standard bottle very tightly and there is little chance it will eject, and has not thus far. Not sure if it is available anymore as I believe they have gone to plastic cages now.
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Old 09-14-23, 11:00 AM
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. . . or you could mount whatever cage (and bottle) that looks good to you on the handlebars with this. I use 'em and like 'em. I'm pretty much strictly a road guy, but I really like having the bottle Right There for grabbing a quick drink on the fly. I've had one break after a goodly number of years, but at $6 a pop, replacing it isn't a big deal. .
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Old 09-14-23, 11:22 AM
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I'm not a huge fan of having things on my back (especially when it's hot out) while riding, but, if you're going to be using the frame bag in events, you'll probably be needing more water than you'd be able to carry in a single bottle (otherwise a saddlebag would probably hold all you need). That sounds like the perfect situation for a camlebak (or similar bladder worn on your back). I bought a new one that I've been meaning to try to see if having it full of ice makes it more pleasant than my old memories, but have been riding exclusively on the trainer since I got hit by a car, so haven't actually tried it.
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Old 09-14-23, 12:15 PM
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It's been awhile since I have been in shape health wise to ride far enough to need to carry 3 bottles. If I was going to run a bottle under the bottom tube I have a cage that came on a 97 Specialized Hardrock that nothing bouncing out of. In real use when I was riding longer rides on a Surly LHT I ran 2 cages inside the frame and the extra water was a 1 liter nalgene bottle in a Condor bottle bag strapped to the front rack. My rough ground adventure bike is a Gravity 29 plus bike from Bikesdirect. I have been running bottle cages on the front forks lately.
I've been doing some research lately. When my wife orders something from Temu, I throw a saddle bag, handle bar bag etc. On the order bags I normally get from Amazon I am getting bags that are probably made in the same factory as the Amazon bag at 1/3-1/2 the price the last order had water bottle cage that I expected to compare to the bulk cages sold at the local bike shop. They are better holding cages
Picture below is m last metric century I have a light thermal shirt wrapped around the bottle bag on the front rack
https://i.imgur.com/161tg4Y.jpeg
29 plus with everything riding up front
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Old 09-14-23, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by plumberroy
It's been awhile since I have been in shape health wise to ride far enough to need to carry 3 bottles. If I was going to run a bottle under the bottom tube I have a cage that came on a 97 Specialized Hardrock that nothing bouncing out of. In real use when I was riding longer rides on a Surly LHT I ran 2 cages inside the frame and the extra water was a 1 liter nalgene bottle in a Condor bottle bag strapped to the front rack.
Under the down tube is not an ideal place to carry water. You can't reach it while riding, and even with mudguards, it gets exposed to a lot of debris kicked up by the front wheel. I used that location for a Sigg fuel bottle:
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