Why a Bike Water Bottle Holder is Bad for Triathlon!

When you are preparing for a triathlon there are lots of things you work on to improve your aerodynamics. Did you know that your bike water bottle holder is costing you time! That’s right!

Something as simple as your bike water bottle is slowing you down in the race. But fear not, there are ways you can reduce the drag and get the most aero performance possible out of your water bottle.

Drag from water bottles

We all know that the cyclist himself is the biggest part of drag during events. People go to great lengths to reduce this with aero helmets and wheelsets. But did you know that your water bottle accounts for 4.5% of drag on your bike in a standard water bottle cage position!

I was shocked as well!

So what can you do about it?

Ideally you do not want to get a bike water bottle cage at all. There are lots of water bottle holders or mounts for you water bottle that will place it in aerodynamic positions that are optimal for cycling and triathlons.

Where can I put my water bottle holder?

So there are only two options for this that have been proven to provide no drag. Those two optimal locations are behind the saddle and in between your aero bars. Both of these have their pros and cons and so it is a bit of personal preference here as well. I will detail them both out below and my personal experiences between the two.

Let me preface this by saying that if you chose to make one of these changes, do so BEFORE race day!

Moving your water bottle location does take some getting used to at first so it is best to learn before you are competing to avoid accident, injury, or sudden drop in performance.

Behind the seat bike water bottle holder

The first place you will see a lot of water bottles placed is underneath the bike seat. This position provides no drag on the water bottle or the bottle cage because your body is already blocking this air flow. If you are concerned about removing every piece of drag from your bike this bottle placement is the best one by pure wind tunnel numbers. Another perk to this is you can use any water bottle you already have! If this option does seem ideal for you though you will have to pick up a water bottle cage specific to being able to mount behind the bike seat. The one I used to use was the Tacx Cycling Saddle bottle cage pictured below.

  • Zero Drag in Wind Tunnel Tests!
  • Holds your 1 or 2 bottles
  • Weighs  165 grams
  • Angle and height are adjustable

I used to ride with this bottle placement but in my personal opinion I did not like having to leave the aero bars to get a drink. However in my non-scientific way, I figured that this removal from the aero position to get a drink was costing me more performance than if I placed my bottle where I could access it without changing riding positions.


aero bars water bottles

In this option you have to pick up a water bottle that is specific to mounting in between the aero bars. This is a more costly solution but I feel the perks outweigh the cost.

First off the aero water bottles tend to be fixed with a straw on top! I love this option as you don’t have to leave aero positioning at all. You simply unclip the straw, take a sip, and clip it back down.

Next they almost all have a quick refill at the top also. What this means is you can cruise through an aid station grab a drink and dump it right into your aero bottle. Super fast, Super easy!

Lastly most also come with a small compartment for nutrition. I store all my chews and gels inside the compartment on the bottle cage and they are easy to access all from the same position.

After I switched to an aero water bottle holder I never looked back and it is one of my favorite bike additions. If you are interested in the one I personally use it is here

  • Never leave aero position to drink!
  • Has compartment for nutrition
  • Easily mounts between aero bars


I hope this guide on bike water bottle holders has helped you in deciding the best option for where you would want your bike bottle cage to be.

I personally never knew that something so simple was costing me time during races.

With all the time and effort we put in as Triathletes to increasing our performance it seems logical that simple steps we can take, like moving our water bottle holder would be a no brainer!

Now you are armed with the best places to mount your water bottle so go make those changes if you haven’t already and I will see you at the finish line!

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