Arundel's lovely STR and DTR side-loading carbon fibre cages works wonderfully, with a vice-like grip on bottles, and are ideal for smaller frames or bikepacking with easier sideways access. They're beautifully made and very light, but you have to part with a lot of cash for one or a pair.
- Pros: Easy bottle insertion, secure grip, fit adjustment, beautifully made, light
- Cons: Very expensive
The STR (Seat Tube Right side entry) and DTR (Down Tube Right side entry) cages differ from the Mandible we've tested in the past by being – as you might already have guessed – designed for side-loading.
You'll want a side-loading cage if your access to the bottle is restricted either by a small frame or a frame pack. And if you're into mountain biking, they're also useful on full-suspension frames with limited access because of low slung top tubes and suspension linkages.
With one designed for the down tube and one for the seat tube (swap 'em around if you're left-handed), getting bottles out when the front triangle is crammed with a frame pack is made much easier.
As I've become hooked on gravel and adventure riding, I've taken to using a frame pack on longer rides. You can stuff an awful lot of food into one, so there's never shortage of mid-ride snacks when your route on long lost forgotten bridleways doesn't take you past a shop/pub/cafe/petrol station.
These are beautifully made cages, as you'd hope for the money. They're made by wrapping carbon fibre over a foam core, and the quality is exceptional. There are no nasty sharp edges, it's all very smooth. You can choose from two finishes, a 3K weave or a unidirectional weave, and glossy or matt. Ours is a matt 3K weave.
To provide some adjustment to suit different frames there are four holes: two round and two slotted, so you can fit the cages higher or lower to suit your requirements.
Sliding a bottle into each cage is extremely easy. I tried a wide variety of bottles (Camelbak Podium, Tacx, Elite, Specialized) and they all worked just fine, no compatibility issues to report. Once in the cage, the bottles were held in place very securely. No ejected bottles to report at all.
Getting the bottles out is easy enough, too, with both the STR and DTR relinquishing their octopus-like grip when you tug at the bottles.
I must say, even on the occasions when I didn't need the side-loading feature, slotting bottles into place was often easier with these than with a normal cage because the angle of entry lines up well with your hand. So even if you don't particularly need side-loading cages, they still work very well as regular cages.
If you want carbon and low weight and aren't taken by the looks of the Arundel, the Elite Rocko Carbon could be worth a look. That's 27g for £27.99.
Or if you want a side entry cage without paying a fortune, the Tacx Radar gets the job done reasonably well for £13.99.
I'm a sucker for a bit of carbon fibre and I do like a good looking bottle cage, and when it's done as well as this it's a struggle to resist the temptation. Yes, they are jolly expensive and value for money isn't that great when you pick out some more keenly priced carbon rivals, but if you want to treat your bike and fancy a bit of lovely bling, you can't really go wrong.
Lovely carbon cages with secure grip and useful side entry for small frames or bikepackers
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Arundel STR/DTR side entry bottle cages
Size tested: N/A
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?
Arundel says: "The names DTR and STR tell you where they go and what they do.
DTR stands for Down Tube Right side entry.
STR = Seat Tube Right side entry.
This side-loading design is a great match for our Mandible cage and was developed over a two-year period, including testing in MTB World Cup competition. DTR fitment is like our proven Other Sideloader. STR is like our SideLoader."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Full carbon construction
Foam core sheds weight
Mandible-like cage arms are incredibly strong
Approved for all riding types including MTB and Cross
Uni-directional carbon in a glossy finish
Cage bolt holes allow you to position the cage exactly where you want it
Very nicely made and lives up to the expectations set by the high price.
Smooth entry even in a tight place, and very secure grip on the bottles.
I've still got an old set of Arundel cages and they're still going strong.
They are lighter than regular cages but they're not the lightest.
The price is a bit silly really.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps bottles securely in place yet they're easy to get in and out in tight places.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Lovely build quality and finish.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's about the same price as other top-end lightweight carbon cages mentioned in the review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Maybe
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's a lovely cage that works very well, but at the price, value for money takes a serious hit.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.