Elite Custom Race Plus bottle cage review

Sharp looks combine with great bottle retention in this updated icon

Elite Custom Race Plus bottle cage
(Image credit: Luke Friend)
Cycling Weekly Verdict

Elite’s claims of the Custom Race Plus’ holding power rang true. I tried three bottles with varying shapes and diameters and the cage held them all firmly, with no movement or rattling during my rides. The cage’s styling seems like a good fit for most modern road bikes and while aesthetics are always subjective when combined with the wide choice of colours and the trusted performance it feels like a bottle cage that will do the job - and do it really well - for the majority of users.

For
  • +

    Holds bottle firmly with no vibration

  • +

    Adapts to a range of bottle diameters

  • +

    Durable material

  • +

    Huge range of colours available

Against
  • -

    Strong bottle retention means removal requires a bit of effort

Elite have been making some of the best water bottle cages (opens in new tab) since 1979, supplying them to many professional teams as well as to the cycling masses. 

The Custom Race Plus is the evolution of what it calls the ‘the most popular bottle cage in the world’, the Custom Race. Regarded as a favorite of the pros for years, it's certainly a cage that I’ve seen on many road bikes, including a few of my own over the years. 

The Plus shares many of the same attributes of its predecessor but manages to shave off a few grams in weight while at the same time cutting a more ‘aggressive’ profile.

Elite Custom Race Plus - the construction

Made from a reinforced Polymer-matrix composite (FRP) Elite says the Custom Race Plus uses this material to absorb vibrations while holding the bottle firmly in place. The desired result is no doubt not just a secure bidon but a quiet ride too.

To further aid fit and retention the cage borrows the same adaptive fit technology that was the hallmark of the Custom Race model on its release. What this looks like is a self-adjusting elastomer rubber insert that ‘adapts’ to the shape and diameter of your chosen bottle. 

Elite Custom Race Plus bottle cage

(Image credit: Luke Friend)

The insert sits at the front of the cage and when combined with a shape that envelops the bottle up high as well as at the sides results in a cage capable of giving any bottle a bear hug.

To the touch the Custom Race Plus appears to blend firmness with flexibility. This balance varies depending on the area of the cage. Around the base that is secured to the bike frame the cage is pretty rigid. As you move to the front of the cage this is superseded by a degree of flex. The rubber insert itself is pliable and you can see how it might ‘adapt’ to the various shapes of water bottle.

Elite’s claimed weight for the cage is 40g. This is matched on my home scales. All in all it’s a decent weight for a product that feels pretty robust and promises durability.

The cage is available in 17 colour variants, all but ensuring that you’ll be able find an appropriate match for your bike.

Elite Custom Race Plus - the ride

Elite talks up the ‘holding power’ of the Custom Race Plus, even on “high speed descents, rough roads and off road.”

I decided that I’d try all three to see if its claim is valid. And it is. While I don’t have any mountains on my doorstep I did sail down a few local hills in pursuit of the truth. The bottle not only stayed in place but I didn’t notice any vibrating either. This was also the case for rough roads and trails. The cage applied a firm grip from the start and kept it up throughout the entirety of my rides. Narrow country lanes. Roughly tarmacked  B-roads. Muddy, uneven trails. In all cases the ‘holding power’ of the Custom Race Plus won out.

To be honest I wasn’t surprised. When inserting the bottle it required a firm push for it to seat properly. Once in it was clear that the cage had adjusted to the diameter of the bottle as claimed resulting in a tight fit. 

Elite Custom Race Plus bottle cage

(Image credit: Luke Friend)

While this did ensure that there was no movement it meant that the bottle required a bit of tug to remove it. I switched around my bottle choice from the stout Specialized Purist to the more slender Camelbak Podium and found that the grip on both was equally secure.

I’d been using Elite’s Vico Carbon cage at the same time as the Custom Race Plus. It too offered a snug fit but it was somewhat easier to remove the bottle on this model. I wondered if the carbon cages' internal ridges were a factor and if so did the FRP material stop Elite using them on the Custom Race Plus?

However, ridge or no ridge, the issue was far from significant. On longer road rides when I was needing to drink from the bottle pretty frequently I could do so without issue. If the cost of a truly secure bottle is that it requires a little squeeze of a gentle tug to remove it then that’s a ‘compromise’ I’m happy to make.

Value

The Elite Custom Race Plus has a RRP of £13.99 / US$21.99. It's a fairly typical price for a high-quality plastic cage - the Tacx Deva cage, which like the Custom Race Plus is used by a number of professional teams, is priced at £13.00 / US$19.99. Carbon cages are naturally more expensive. The Elite Vico cage (opens in new tab) is one of the most competitively priced carbon models. It has an RRP of £26.00 / US$44.99 and will save you around 15 grams in weight compared to the similarly shaped Custom Race Plus.

Verdict

Elite’s claims of the Custom Race Plus’ holding power rang true. I tried three bottles with varying shapes and diameters and the cage held them all firmly, with no movement or rattling during my rides. The cage’s styling seems like a good fit for most modern road bikes and while aesthetics are always subjective when combined with the wide choice of colours and the trusted performance it feels like a bottle cage that will do the job - and do it really well - for the majority of users.

Specs

  • Weight: 40g 
  • Material: Polymer-matrix composite (FRP)
  • Diameter: 74mm
  • Contact: elite-it.com

Do all bottle cages fit on all bikes?

 The spacing of the mounting holes for a standard bottle cage is 64mm / 2.5in apart, measured centre to centre. This matches the standard spacing of the bosses on most bikes. While we can’t say that all bottle cages will definitely fit all bikes, the overwhelming majority of each do fit each other.

Where should I put my bottle cage on my bike?

 

The most common places for storing a water bottle are on the downtube and the seat tube, inside the main frame of the bike. Lately, bottle cage bosses have been appearing in many more places on bikes, including the fork legs and underneath the down tube.

It’s perfectly possible to store bottles in these locations, but they are less accessible than inside the main frame of the bike. 

How do you add more bottle cage mounts?

There are a number of options. You can buy an attachment which bolts onto a bottle mount already on the frame and gives an additional set. You can buy band-on attachments with threads for attaching bottle cages to your bike. Perhaps the easiest is buying a bottle cage like the Topeak Ninja cage which can be strapped onto your bike wherever you like with a set of zip ties. 

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Luke Friend

Luke Friend has worked as a writer, editor and copywriter for over twenty years. Across books, magazines and websites, he's covered a broad range of topics for a range of clients including Major League Baseball, the National Trust and the NHS. He has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and is a qualified bicycle mechanic. He fell in love with cycling at an early age, partly due to watching the Tour de France on TV. He's a passionate follower of bike racing to this day as well an avid road and gravel rider.