While new materials and shape changes appear on new bottle cages almost daily, the basic concept is still the same. Koala Bottle, however, is taking a truly innovative approach by using an open cage with magnets that hug a metal ring that you install around your bottle. I had my doubts, as I often do with new products, but the Koala Bottle assuaged most of those doubts. Weights, impressions, doubts, and more after the break.
Weighing in at 71 grams with cage and ring, doubts pertaining to weight were quickly disproved. And, since it’s so open, the Koala Bottle system installs quickly and easily. The metallic rings that ship with the Koala Bottle system can be fitted to any Specialized bottle, so that freebie you recently acquired in a local race probably works.
Installing the rings, as you can see in the video below, is a simple process of folding the top of the bottle into a triangle and slipping the ring over. I slipped mine on and off a number of times on a few different bottles and never had a problem with threads matching up or caps leaking (another doubt I’d had) despite the contortion I put the bottle through.
The next thing I was skeptical of was how well it would actually hold the bottle, but the Koala grips tight, probably tighter than the cages you currently have. I initially put them on my hardtail mountain bike, but never lost a bottle. The only time I lost a bottle was cruising over some train tracks at 20+ mph. In fact, the Koala Bottle is sometimes a little too tight and takes a bit of a jerk to get it out. It was never really a problem for me, but might be a nuisance for some riders.
Another nice little feature is that you can hear the bottle click into place, which cuts down on doubtful glances. I was chasing a friend of mine towards the end of a 2o min. interval nearing max effort and I was able to take a drink and return the bottle without inadvertently slowing or looking down, partially because I heard that click.
Durability seemed decent, but not perfect. I beat them up pretty good in a variety of conditions and they held for the most part, but I did have one cage crack (still usable) due to the various angular forces placed on the plastic, and I did have one ring break (again, it was still usable for the other 70 miles of the ride and the same one I popped out over some train tracks) but the cage and ring were from a previous generation. I’ve experienced no problems with the current generation of cages.
The bottom line: if you really like magnets and gadgets, having unique things on your bike, or are prone to losing bottles, the Koala Bottle system may be for you. If you’re happy with your current cages, why would you change anyways? Being limited to Specialized bottles is a major drawback seeing as they aren’t as ubiquitous as they once were and over half my water bottles didn’t quite fit the system.
The entire system retails for $27.99 with a 22oz bottle and 29.99 with a 24 oz. bottle. Extra rings sell in pairs for $8.99, and a cage alone will set you back $24.99.