I'm planning on getting a bottle cage for my bike, but my bike does not have the standard mount screws for one. As I understand it, there are two types of cages: bolted cages and clamped cages. I'd prefer a bolted cage because they are cheaper ($5ish vs. $10ish).

Is it possible to drill holes directly into the frame for the bolts (I do have a good bit of experience working with aluminum)? Are there any other alternative methods for attachment, or would I be better off with the clamp cage?

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    I think you'll be better off with a clamp-on cage. I've never drilled holes in bicycle tubing, but jack-nuts will lock a threaded nut into the hole more permanently than just tapping threads into the walls of the tubing. (Cheap bikes have similar provisions for braze-ons, as opposed to welded-in fittings.)
    – WTHarper
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 2:56
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    I would advise a clamp-on unit. You can buy separate clamp assemblies for bolt-on cages if you want to use a specific cage, or you can improvise with hose clamps and a strip of sheet metal. I'd be a little leery drilling holes. Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 4:16
  • @WTHarper - There's nothing "cheap" about braze-ons. Brazing is used on good quality steel tubing to prevent destroying the temper. Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 4:19
  • I don't think that there is any difference between bolt on cages and clamp on ones apart from the pack for the clamp on ones contains some extra bits. I have added "bolt on" cages to my bike using jubilee clips (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_Clip) around the frame slipped over the bolt on tangs. I don't know whether that brings the cost down though.
    – DanS
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 7:46
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    @Daniel R Hicks I was trying to say that crimp-in style nuts are the cheap alternative and was using braze-on in the generic sense of attachment points for parts and accessories. Brazed or welded fittings are totally ideal.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 14:19

4 Answers 4


Clamps are easy and reversible - causing little or no damage to tubing (metal jubilee clips might scratch paintwork, but there are plastic versions which work well)

I'm loath to drill holes in perfectly good tubing - I also would be worried about metal shavings falling to the bottom of the tube and causing problems in a bearing race.

  • Not to mention, this is how it is done originally, when the frame is built.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 16:08
  • Surely at that point there is no grease etc so any shavings will be easily blown out? Also, the last two bikes I have owned have not had the bottom bearings sealed off from the rest of the tubes...which has always worried me
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 18:04
  • In my experience plastic clips do not work. I tried these at first but swapped them for metal clips after a very short while. Like, one journey.
    – PeteH
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 18:47
  • I have two bikes (both bamboo, so that may be a factor in maintaining grip) that I use the plastic style and they work fine. They are a pain to install correctly...you have to get them on pretty tight, but once set they work well.
    – Ken Hiatt
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 20:21
  • @JohnP - I can assure you that quite commonly the frame tubes are open to the bottom bracket. This is desirable to allow any accumulated moisture to escape. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 2:14

Yes, it is possible to install a set of water bottle "braze-ons" on a frame which was not originally supplied with them.

It requires a very specific set of tools and parts.

The video below shows how a Rivnut works.

The second video wexpolains how to install a set in a bicycle frame.

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    +1 Nice answer, but since my main objective in getting a bolted cage was to save money, the tool needed might bake it a bit counterproductive. Helpful answer, though. Thanks
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 19:58
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    Many bike shops have the tools, and the rivnuts themselves are cheap. Also, there are many DIY versions of the tool. They just take more time to use. See this link for example: parktool.com/blog/repair-help/water-bottle-fittings
    – zenbike
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 2:39
  • FYI, rivnuts can be fitted properly using two spanners and a nut and bolt that fit the internal thread. Just takes a bit longer than using the specialised tool.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 2:26

Nylon zip ties. No tools required, no holes to drill and easily reversible.....you can even get 'em in colors.

  • That's not a bad idea. Have you tried this yourself? Is it a durable solution?
    – Luke_0
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 21:18
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    I wouldn't expect that zip ties would hold a bottle cage securely, unless there was at least a rubber strip between cage and tube. Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 22:49
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    Exactly @DanielRHicks, the trick is to use two or four zipties with a strip of inner tube between the tie and the bike's tube. Use the big ones, they support greater forces, and being large allows to pull them real tight.
    – Jahaziel
    Commented Jul 12, 2013 at 23:11
  • I have indeed used these myself and I can assure you that your cage is not going to go anywhere. A rubber strip is also a good idea as it will protect the paint finish. May you ride on in style!
    – Brian
    Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 0:14
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    I'd still trust spiral hose clamps a lot more. Commented Jul 13, 2013 at 2:12

Hose clamps work. Might put a piece of foam to stop the cage from rattling.

  • 1
    Welcome to SE - please do take a moment to browse the tour. Sorry - this duplicates the accepted answer posted in 2013. Also try for a longer answer next time, with a bit more background. A one-liner triggers an automatic flag.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jul 29, 2020 at 5:19

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