Cannondale has a small range of branded bottle cages, and the Nylon SSL is one of the cheaper ones, being made out of plastic. It offers good side access to the bottle, which is an advantage to those with smaller frames, but it didn't hold onto the bottle reliably enough for us to really recommend it.
We reviewed its posher cousin, the Evo Carbon, a while ago, which didn't fare very well, and I'm afraid the news is only a little better this time. This cage is available in two variants, each the mirror image of the other. It's designed such that the bottle comes out quite easily to one side (and not very easily to the other), so you can take your pick from the SSL and the SSR. Bear in mind, though, that because of the location of the mounts on most bikes, you'll almost certainly need one of each if you're going to fit two.
The SSL offers easy access from the left when mounted to the down tube, and from the right when mounted to the seat tube. Unusually, it's moulded in two pieces; here one is white and the other black. You can get a few other colour combinations to suit your bike too. Cannondale says that this is to allow the use of two different "durometers" of nylon, by which I am assuming it means stiffness. I couldn't honestly identify which was supposed to be the stiffer, and I half suspect that aesthetic reasons rather than material ones were the main justification.
And it does look pretty snazzy, I'd say, especially for a relatively cheap plastic cage. The white part is in the shape of the Cannondale "C" logo; branding is otherwise quite subtle, with the only printed logo located on the inside, underneath the bottom of the bottle.
A slight downside to the two-part construction is that it is a little more fiddly to fit to your bike (the mounting bolts secure the two halves together), but not by a whole lot. The mounting holes are actually slots, making it suitable if your bike has non-standard spacing between bosses.
Weighing in at 47g, marginally lower than the claimed weight, it's similar to other plastic or metal bottle cages; if you stretch to a carbon cage it'll be around half that, although we're talking pretty small differentials. Plastic bottle cages start at around half the cost of this one – here you're paying for the unusual design and the Cannondale brand.
Side-access cages can make it a bit easier to grab your bottle, as long as you remember to use the correct hand, but their main advantage is for use in smaller frames, where extracting a larger bottle can be quite fiddly otherwise. I found that it was pretty easy getting a bottle in and out, so it passes that part of the test.
The other key requirement is that it doesn't release the bottle without you wanting it to, and here it was less of a success. On the mostly smooth roads of Spain, where spent a few days riding, it held on without any issue for several hundred kilometres, but I found on the UK's winter roads it was less reliable.
On more than one occasion an unintended foray into a pothole resulted in the bottle flying out. The cause seems to be a combination of the relatively flexible nylon that the cage is made from and that the side-access design doesn't hug the bottle as tightly as some. It was particularly an issue with larger (750ml) bottles, but as there are plenty of bottle cages available without this flaw it does make it quite hard to recommend, unless you live somewhere with nicer roads than the UK.
Smart-looking plastic cage with easy side access; you might lose your bottle though
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cannondale Nylon SSL Water Bottle Cage
Size tested: White
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
*'C' logo silhouette 3D sculpted to perfectly fit Cannondale waterbottles
*2 piece design allows for 2 durometers of nylon
*ideal solution for bikes with limited space
*Perfect balance of security and ease of use
*Ultra light at 49g
Cleanly moulded plastic with unusual two-colour options thanks to two-part construction.
The design makes side access easy which is a useful attribute if you have a small frame where pulling the bottle out straight might not be possible, but it fails the primary test of a good bottle cage which is to hold onto a bottle reliably - mine would sometimes bounce out if I hit a bigger bump or pothole.
The two-part construction might look real purdy but it also makes it a bit more fiddly to fit.
I wouldn't bank on it lasting as long as an Elite Ciussi Inox...
...which only weighs 1g more so I think "ultra light" is pushing it.
Look, it's hardly going to break the bank, but you can get basic plastic bottle cages that actually work for half the price of this one.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A mixed bag. Riders with small frames will appreciate the side-access that this design offers, but riders of all shapes and sizes are likely to find it quite annoying when their bottle exits stage left.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Unusual and classy looks.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Stopping to retrieve my bottle from the verge.
Did you enjoy using the product? Sometimes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your score
It's pretty irritating slamming on the brakes to go back and retrieve a bottle, so it's hard to recommend this cage unless you only ride on smooth roads.
About the tester
I usually ride: Commuter - something with disc brakes, drop bars and a rack My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels. His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding.