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The Zefal Pulse Z2 bottle cage offers loads of adjustability for small frames and holds your bottle securely, regardless of the terrain. It isn't a true side-opener, more of an angle, but still works well where space is limited, though you might struggle with larger bottles.
Some cages let you literally insert a bottle sideways, like the Arundel STR DTR Side-Entry, which is perfect if you have no access to get the bottle in from the top, like with a traditional cage. The Zefal's design differs slightly; its reinforced fibre-glass material is too taut to force a bottle in directly from the side, but the shape means you can slide it in from quite an angle, which should still enable you to use it with a small frame or a larger one loaded with a frame bag.
On a compact style gravel bike with a frame bag fitted I could easily fit a 500ml bottle into it, while a 750ml was just a little bit of a squeeze. Once in, though, both sizes of bottle were held firmly, even when full on really rough terrain.
The outside of the cage has a hardwearing matt finish, while the inside has a polished look to it which helps your bottles slide in and out easily.
The Pulse comes in two parts, which allows you to switch the upper bit to either left or right loading, plus you get plenty of adjustment for the bolt holes so you can customise how high up the seat tube or down tube you want it to sit.
It costs £11.99, which is pretty good value when compared to the similar Tacx Radar cage at £13.99. It's only a couple of quid, admittedly, but the Pulse looks a much more refined product.
Overall, the Zefal Pulse Z2 is a good looking cage that offers very firm bottle retention.
Not a true side-entry but looks good and holds your bottle tight
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Pulse Z2 Side-Opening Bottle Cage
Size tested: One size
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?
Zefal says, "Do you have an enduro MTB or an electric MTB that doesn't have space for a bottle cage? Or are you looking for a better way of transporting your bottle on a Gravel bike equipped with Bikepacking? The Pulse Z2 is the ideal bottle cage for these scenarios. It features a right or left-side opening for easy access and is made from a fibre-glass material. This bottle cage boasts all the technical characteristics needed to ensure the bottle is held in place during even the most strenuous rides."
Once it has hold of the bottle it isn't going anywhere.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
REVERSIBLE FOR RIGHT OR LEFT HAND
Makes it easy to access the bottle no matter what type of frame.
ADAPTS TO ALL TYPES OF FRAME
Designed for frames missing access (electric MTB, enduro MTB, Gravel).
Reinforced fibre-glass material.
Compatible with all standard bottles.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Bottles are easy to slide in and it keeps them secure.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great bottle retention.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It won't work on really small frames, especially with big bottles.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Compared to something like the Topeak mentioned in the review, it is cheaper and in my opinion looks better.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Holds your bottle very securely, and while it doesn't offer true side-entry, it comes pretty close.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!