The water bottle is the lowliest of cycling necessities. It’s disposable even though they rarely wear out. You’re more likely to toss one away near the end of a race than actually wear it out. Most of us have probably lost far more of them than we’ve destroyed.
While keeping one may not seem all that important, it is by no means an accessory. It is as important as your helmet; for while it can’t make you go faster, lacking one can ultimately result in you going slower.
The old-timers out there will certainly remember the Specialized bottle at the left. Its spout dispensed liquid at a rate twice that of trickle and featured a top that didn’t leak. However, they cracked in freezing temperatures, which brought on a very different set of problems for users. It was supplanted by the Specialized Big Mouth bottle that gained instant PRO status by virtue of the fact that the bottle was softer than any of its competitors’ and the spout sent for a stream that didn’t frustrate the parched.
The two bottles at the right, by Elite and Tacx, respectively, feature pretty lousy spouts, small openings to frustrate those who use drink mixes and stiff plastic bottles that require a firm squeeze. They are, however, by virtue of their European origin, utterly PRO. The Elite bottle, with its unnecessarily complicated top that convinces you it holds more fluid than it does, is almost hopelessly PRO. I only have a few of these, but I wouldn’t trade them for a cotton musette bag. As for the Tacx bottle, it may be the most affordable item emblazoned with the Assos logo on the market.
Speaking of hopeless complication, I didn’t include the Camelbak bottle here, which is, to my eye, rather complicated and yet not PRO, thanks to both its shape and twisting closure on the spout. Maybe the fact that it is amazingly expensive didn’t help, either.
In position two is the Specialized’s new bottle, the Purist. According to company literature, the Purist has a coating inside the bottle to prevent the bottle from retaining flavors or being stained by drink mixes (Cytomax, anyone?). This coating is said to leave water tasting like, well, water. It’s also supposed to be mold-resistant, if not outright mold-proof. I can affirm that the bottle doesn’t stain or retain flavors, and the Missus—who has already confiscated one of my samples—compared the Purist to her favorite Nalgene for the way it didn’t alter the taste of plain water. We’ve also become more aware of chemicals leaching into the foods we eat, so it’s reassuring to know the Purist is BPA-free.
The Purist is available with two different spouts. The MoFlo is a traditional design Specialized claims offers a 15 percent improvement in flow over its Big Mouth and Little Big Mouth bottles. The Watergate includes what Specialzed calls its Heart Valve, a self-sealing valve the prevents leakage (a la Camelbak) even when the spout is left open, but of course, this one can be closed with your teeth or a simple smack on the hip.
Another nice touch is that if you order a colored bottle, there is a translucent lengthwise stripe that will tell you just how much fluid is left in your bottle.
Impeccable style is the surest route to PRO. But every now and then something works so well it would be stupid not to adopt. Think disc wheels and SRM. I’ve been waiting for a better mousetrap, one that wasn’t silly, but scored well enough on both style AND function to be called PRO.