Any cyclist knows that their bike water bottle is an important piece of equipment. As a rider, it’s essential to keep yourself hydrated. Cycling causes you to lose considerable amounts of fluids in the form of sweat. A failure to stay properly hydrated can have some painful consequences, as dehydration can rapidly lead to agonizing, debilitating cramps from lack of electrolytes.
Drinking water is essential just to sustain life. But to reach peak performance requires being mindful of your hydration. Especially when riding long distances, prepare to drink a lot of water!
To ensure easy access to your water supply while cycling, you’ll need a water bottle or hydration pack. When it comes to bike water bottles, cyclist are spoiled for choice. But, what exactly should one know about bike water bottles?
Finding the Right Bottle Capacity: The Essential Cyclists’ Water Bottle Dilemma
The size-to-weight ratio is one of the most important factors in choosing the best water bottle for cycling. Any more water than you need just weighs down your bike and slows down your ride. But finding yourself under prepared can be even worse should you wind up on a long, thirsty ride after you’ve already run out of water.
Everyone’s hydration needs vary and the most important thing is to listen to your body and not let yourself go thirsty. According to experts at bicycling.com, the general recommendations for a 150-pound cyclist is 16-ounces of water for every hour of riding in cool to moderate weather. In hot weather, the recommended amount can skyrocket to as much as 64 ounces per hour, four times as much water as in cool weather!
Determining just how much water is optimal for you to bring on your rides can take a little trial and error. Pay attention to how much or how little water you have after you’ve finished cycling. A pro-tip for getting some gauge of your hydration level is to weigh yourself before and after cycling. If you find you weigh less than you did at the start, you might not be hydrating properly. But if you weigh more than you did before your ride, you might be overdoing it with the water.
Generally a good size to start with is a bottle of about 20- to 25-ounces, depending on your bodyweight and hydration needs.
To help keep track of just how much you’re drinking or need to drink, you can pick-up a bottle made from a transparent plastic with a measurement scale drawn on it. This helps keep track of your hydration and can also make it easier to mix in hydration or energy supplements.
Getting A Comfortable Fit In Your Bicycle’s Water Bottle Holder
The standard method of carrying your water bottle on your bike is a water bottle cage. These water bottle holders attach to the frame of your bike and provide a small cage to fit your bottle into. These tend to be limited in space, so bike water bottles are generally on the smaller side, around 12-25 ounces in capacity. Some bicycle’s water bottle holders are adjustable, while others are fixed. Make sure you know the recommended size for your bike’s bottle cage before purchasing a bottle.
Many plastic bottles are manufactured with bike water bottle cages in mind. Look for a design with a wide “collar” near the top of the bottle. This is a shape specifically chosen to help prevent the bottle from sliding out of your water bottle cage.
Ideally, your bottle cage should easily grip your bottle without it sliding as you ride. Some bottles help accomplish this with exterior texturing that helps improve grip, or pliable materials that squeeze comfortably into the bottle cage. However, the fit should not be too tight, as you still want to access the bottle easily while riding.
Choosing the Best Material For Your Biking Water Bottle
Typically, cyclists tend to prefer plastic water bottles. The other options are stainless steel and aluminium bottles. Glass water bottles are generally excluded due their fragility. Plastic bottles are typically the favorite choice of cyclists for their combination of extreme lightweight, durability, and the ability to easily squeeze them for one-handed operation.
There are three important things to consider when choosing the material of your cycling water bottle:
- 1. The weight of the material
- 2. Potential exposure to chemicals or bad flavors entering the water
- 3. Ease of operating the bottle while riding
For all three of these criteria, modern plastic bottles excel. While concerns with plastic leaching and BPA contamination gave older plastic bottles a bad name, these issues have been corrected in modern plastic water bottles. In terms of being lightweight, plastic is unbeatable. It is also the only material flexible enough to allow for squeeze bottles, which is typically the preferred method of drinking while cycling.
Go For Wide-Mouth Bottles with Soft Drinking Spout Materials
Generally, you’ll want to choose a bottle with a Wide-Mouth Opening. This makes it much easier to add bulky ice cubes or easily mix in things like electrolyte powder or other water supplements. If you don’t plan to add ice or any kind of supplements to your water, a narrow-mouth bottle can suffice. But for versatility and ease of cleaning, wide-mouth is generally the way to go.
You’ll also want to take a look at the Drinking Spout/Nozzle. This is one of the most important areas of the bottle as its where it makes contact with your mouth while drinking. Generally, the best water bottles for biking have an easy-open/close spout that you just pull up to open and push down to seal. For one-handed operation, cyclists will often open and close the nozzle with their teeth. As a result, a soft, flexible plastic is ideal for the drinking spout material.
More rigid plastics can hurt your teeth and prove difficult to grip. The best material for a nozzle is a pliable silicone or rubber. These are soft on the mouth and easy to open one-handed without worrying about damaging your teeth. CamelBak and Polar Bottle are examples of quality plastic water bottles with these types of lids.
The other important thing to look for in your cycling water bottle’s nozzle is a lock or flow valve. These prevent water from leaving the bottle without squeezing the bottle hard or biting down to open the valve. A bottle with a quality valve won’t leak in your bag or in the seat of your car – it will only let water out of the nozzle when you want it to.
Valves also have another important role, which is controlling the flow-rate of your water bottle. When cycling, you’ll want a medium- to high-flow rate bottle. If you’re only getting a trickle it won’t be enough to satisfy. You want to be able to hydrate quickly!
Don’t Forget To Clean Your Bike Water Bottle In Between Rides
It’s important to clean your cycling bottles regularly. Leaving water in the bottle for several days encourages the growth of bacteria, fungi, algae, and other nasty microorganisms you’d rather not be drinking. Because your bottle might be a bit oddly shaped, it might require some special tools or methods to clean it out.
It’s important to keep the hygiene of your whole bottle up to snuff, but the drinking spout and nozzle are the most essential parts to keep an eye on. Since it touches your mouth, it gets dirtier a lot faster than the rest of the bottle. Cheaper plastic bottles with their rigid nozzles are terrible for long-term use. After just a few usages, you’ll find wear and tear on the plastic, which creates a perfect home for microorganisms. The longer you own it and the most pock-marked the plastic becomes from use, the harder it is to keep it properly cleaned.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure the mouth-piece is made from silicone or rubber, like we mentioned above. These don’t scar in the same way rigid plastics do, making them much easier to clean and more resistant to becoming a home for nasty little critters.
While you may use a dishwasher for some bottles, it’s advisable to clean it manually using a conical brush. Many plastic bottles are not suited for the heat of the dishwasher. Flushing the bottle with warm water and soap, or a solution of salt and lemon juice, is a good way to get a reasonable clean inside the bottle. Some prefer the quick-and-easy method of effervescing cleaning tablets. However, it’s important to regularly take a bottle brush or sponge to the interior of the bottle, as nothing beats physical abrasion when cleaning!
Best Bike Water Bottle: A Recommendation
So which water bottle should be the top choice to grab before heading out on your next cycling adventure? We’d recommend the CamelBak Podium Chill Water Bottle. Made from durable BPA-free polypropelene and equipped with CamelBak’s proprietary Hydro Guard technology, the bottle is specifically engineered not to impart any taste or leave any undesirable traces of plastic in your water.
It is also designed with the cyclist or athlete in mind. It meets all the criteria we’ve laid out above. At 25 ounces, it provides a great ratio of weight to storage capacity. The bottle is equipped with a spacious wide-mouth opening and an easy-on-the-mouth soft drinking spout. Since it is made from flexible plastic, the CamelBak Podium Chill can be squeezed to get your water out fast with just one hand. It has a great flow-rate with a self-sealing valve that won’t leak but doesn’t complicate getting a drink. The bottle takes the “chill” part of its name from its double-wall insulation, which helps keep your water cool on long rides.
And, perhaps most importantly, the shape and size of the CamelBak Podium Chill is well-suited for just about any bicycle’s water bottle holder. The bottle’s ergonomic indentations that make for easy holding also provide a wide collar on the bottle, meaning it sits comfortably in a water bottle cage and when properly fitted the movement of the bottle as you ride is minimal, even on a bumpy trail.
To learn more details on the CamelBak Podium Chill Bike Water Bottle, visit the Amazon listing.
Don’t Forget To Hydrate While Cycling!
Finding a bottle that is easy to use will greatly impact amount of water you consume. Ultimately, your water consumption can have a huge impact on your cycling performance. Too little or too much can result in the quality of your ride suffering and even create unnecessary stress and strain on the body.
Although you may have to spend a few extra dollars, buying a high-quality bottle which is durable and well-designed can make a huge difference in how much water you drink and how well you perform while riding your bike.
Cycling makes use of all the water in your body. Especially when you are going for a long distance or hilly ride. Keeping a supply of water easily available on all of your rides is just as important as properly maintaining your bicycle or wearing your safety equipment.
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We look at the criteria that make up a quality bike water bottle and give you some handy cyclist tips about staying hydrated while riding your bike,
Sophie Elise is a passionate cyclist, author, and blogger. Originally from Miami, Florida, she first discovered cycling at the age of six years old. Since then, it has grown into a lifelong hobby and beloved obsession. Her love of cycling is reflected in her writing and she can often be found writing on the topics of women’s bikes, accessories, health, fitness and more.
You can find more from Sophie on the sportsly.net blog where she is a regular contributor.