The Tacx Radar bottle cage is marketed as a side-entry design, intended to overcome the access problems associated with full size bottles and smaller geometry frames. It's well made and a decent alternative to more traditional cages, but others with more literal side-entry seem superior when space is at a premium – and some are cheaper to boot.
- Pros: Decent quality materials, easier entry/retrieval than traditional designs
- Cons: Expensive, less effective on smaller compact geometry framesets than side-entry 'proper' designs
The Radar isn't a side-entry design in the commonly accepted sense, rather, bottles are inserted and accessed at an angle. Admittedly, this makes entry and retrieval easier than would be the case with a traditional, top-entry design, but the Radar wasn't as compatible with my rough stuff tourer's small main triangle as Lezyne's Flow SL.
Like several others I've tested over the years, the Radar is adjustable to suit left/right-handed riders, but unlike Topeak's Shuttle, for example, there's no adjustment, which buys some additional room.
I typically run a 1.5 litre PET type cage on the down tube, which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand it's super-convenient for lugging soft drinks bought at rest stops, but it eclipses the seat tube. Some cages will overcome this problem; the Tacx couldn't. An unusual configuration perhaps, but something to consider.
Testing aside, I wouldn't entertain mounting it beneath the down tube either, since clearance, even with a 600ml bottle, was in hair's breadth territory.
I've tried the Radar with a range of standard and not-so-standard bottles with excellent results. Out of curiosity, I loaded it with an old school lead acid lighting battery – a great test for a cage's rigidity. Subjected to several miles of unmade roads at 18mph, there were no ejections, and chatter over rough surfaces was minimal.
I also tried the Relaj bottle, which is a quirky favourite of mine but cage compatibility is very hit and miss. It slid in effortlessly and the ribs caressed its curves perfectly, so again no problems with ejection or chatter.
Compatibility with standard 750ml bottles was perfect, 800ml too – when ported over to larger framesets.
I did find the Radar less intuitive to use than some, taking a few rides to perfect gunslinger-quick draws/repatriation. Having mastered it, I ported it over to a set of saddle rail mounts, which occasionally grace my TT bike. Traditional cages often result in the bottle catching my buttocks mid grab – especially with a standard 750ml size. The Radar's angled release largely eliminated this, and opting for a 600ml bottle proved the cure.
The Radar is made from a sturdy, high quality GRP (glass reinforced plastic), which isn't the lightest of composites but strikes an excellent balance between compliance and bottle tenure.
The bottle-grasping component is shaped like a rib cage and features a stabiliser foot and top slide. These are reversible, depending on whether you are right or left-handed, and slot together reassuringly well. Mounting bolts are stainless steel, and long enough to accommodate mini pump brackets.
The Radar is a solid, reliable cage and offers some advantages over traditional cages, regardless of frame type. That said, it's not a side-entry design in the commonly accepted sense, and where main triangle space is at a premium, proper side-entry models are superior – and some a good bit cheaper too.
Decent cage but there are better options for smaller framesets
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tacx Radar bottle cage
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?
Tacx says, "The Radar is a side load bottle cage with very good clamping and especially designed to fit small bike frames. You insert and remove your bottle sideways, from either the left or the right side.
LEFT OR RIGHT
You can choose to insert your water bottle from the left or right. Simply mount the cage onto your frame as you see fit."
It's a very competent and sturdy cage, but more literal side-entry designs are better options for smaller compact and semi-compact geometry frames.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Tacx says, "The body of the Radar is made from a strong glass fibre compound. We increased its clamping force even further by giving it a round shape with extra ribs."
Reliable entry/exit and very pleasant to use.
Well made and pleasant to use, but pricey compared with some other brands' designs.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Radar is very pleasant to use and well made. It's rigid enough to hold heavier cargo, with no ejections over poor surfaces, and has proved compatible with some unusual shaped bottles, including the Relaj.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Rugged design, intuitive to use and better bottle compatibility than some.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's a little pricey, and less effective than I was expecting on smaller framesets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Designs such as the Topeak Shuttle and Lezyne Flow SL represent better value.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Possibly
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Possibly
Use this box to explain your overall score
Well-executed cage but it's relatively expensive and less effective on smaller framesets than some.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)