A bottle cage is device used to affix a water bottle to a bicycle. Composed of plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, titanium or carbon fiber, it is attached to the main frame of a bicycle, the handlebars, or behind the saddle. Most modern bicycles have threaded holes in the frame to hold the bottle cage, often called braze-ons even though they may be welded, glued, riveted, or moulded into the frame material. Clamps are necessary on bicycles not so equipped, such as older or less expensive models.
The most common location for a frame-mounted bottle cage is on the top side of the downtube. The most common location for a second frame-mounted bottle cage is on the front side of the seat tube. Small bikes and mountain bikes with rear suspension often do not have enough room for two bottle cages inside the main frame triangle.
Some touring bicycles have a third frame mounting location: under the downtube.
Tandem bicycles may have as many as six bottle cages.
The vast majority of bottle cages consist of a single hoop of metal tubing or rod bent to hold the bottle snugly and engages the top, or an indentation in the case of larger bottles, to prevent it from bouncing out.
Varieties, often made out of plastic or carbon fiber, may completely encircle the bottle.
Some manufacturers have released non-standard bottles and cages that only work with each other in order to offer specialized shapes (streamlined, for example) or restrict consumers to purchasing brand-specific items.
The standard bottle cage has mounting two holes, two and a half inches (2.5") apart, to match the threaded holes in the frame, and through which small bolts pass. Some have a strap, adjustable for non standard bottles.
The holes are usually sized and threaded to accept a 5 x .8 bolt, which means 5 mm in diameter and threads 0.8 mm apart.
The standard bottle cage holds a bottle two and seven eighths inches (2.875") in diameter and five inches (5") tall or with an indentation that far from the bottom for the tab on the cage to engage.
Many small tire pumps come with a mounting bracket intended to be mounted alongside a bottle cage.
In addition to the fairly standard cycling water bottle, cages have been produced to hold commercial 1 liter and 1.5 liter water bottles.
Until the 1960s, cyclists often carried a second bottle on the handlebars, held by a bottle cage fixed to the handlebars themselves and by a third point to the handlebar stem. Such bottle cages are familiar from pictures of the Tour de France. Riders had a cage there rather than have two on the frame, where the centre of gravity is lower, because at the time the Tour's rules insisted that riders carry a pump. The pump took up the length of one frame tube and made a second bottle cage on the frame impossible.