The Fabric Gripper Bottle Cage performs extremely well with Fabric's own Gripper bottle and other shallow-necked bottles, but its plain looks won't be for everyone.
I have to admit, it took a while for the Fabric Gripper bottle cage to grow on me. Plain looking, with a matt grey finish, its utilitarian looks won't appeal to everyone. However, its performance at retaining bottles is excellent.
I mounted the cage in all the various positions, on the down tube, the seat tube, and the third mounting point underneath the down tube. The extended slots on the cage mean it's easy to adjust the height up or down a centimetre or so. Note that mounting bolts are not included.
I was using the matching Fabric Gripper bottle at the same time, and it's obvious that the two are meant to work together. The Gripper bottle's shallow, curved neck fits perfectly into the Gripper cage.
The Gripper cage has a curved lip to it, and you need to use a lift-and-tug movement to free the bottle. You quickly get used to this movement, and the lip on the cage is the secret to why it holds the bottles in place so well. I tried various other shallow-necked bottles with a similar neck profile, and they were held in place just as well.
Hitting potholes, bumps in the road, speed bumps, rumble strips... nothing budged the bottles from the cage. That's as long as they are the shallow-necked variety.
Because of the aforementioned lip, any straight-sided bottles won't sit as snugly in the Gripper cage. They go in okay, but don't seem anywhere near as secure, with a visible, diagonal gap, as you can see in the photo below. This is because they cannot tuck under that lip.
During testing, I hit a few rumble strips on a fast descent and found a 750ml straight-sided Elite bottle came dislodged. If your entire bottle collection is straight-sided, you might need to buy shallow-sided ones to make the most of the Gripper's retention prowess.
Despite weighing only 38g the Fabric Gripper Cage is certainly durable. I tested bending the cage a fair bit, but its nylon construction quickly springs back into place. As its solid nylon, there is nothing to wear off or scratch, so it seems like it will last.
Compared to other bottle cages recently reviewed, the Gripper has some tough competition – the well-reviewed Zefal Pulse A2 cage is lighter, half the price, and also grips bottles very securely. It also looks quite sporty and is available in different colours.
The Deda Elementi Gabbia cage is a similar weight, cheaper, and also available in different colour schemes.
In summary, the Fabric Gripper bottle cage is well made and works extremely well, as long as the bottles in it are of the shallow-necked variety. The plain grey looks won't appeal to all, though, and you can get cheaper and lighter cages.
Holds bottles very well, as long as they are of the shallow-necked variety
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fabric Gripper 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?
Fabric says: "Our streamlined Gripper cage is cleverly designed so you can get to your bottle quickly, on the go, while keeping a low profile on your bike. This cage holds any standard bicycle water bottle, but it is optimised to fit our Gripper bottle perfectly for ultimate security."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The Gripper cage is made of fibre-reinforced nylon for strength and low weight
Optimised to hold a Fabric Gripper water bottle
Securely fits any standard water bottle
Integrated ridge grips water bottle securely
Elongated mounting slots fit any bottle bosses
At 38g, the Gripper cage is lightweight, but strong and flexible. Testing shows that it can be bent a long way out of shape but still springs back again to its original form.
The Gripper cage is optimised for Fabric's own Gripper water bottle, and the lip on the cage fits perfectly around this. It works best with other bottles that have a pronounced, rounded collar, as this fits into the lip on the cage. If the bottles do not have a curved, rounded collar, then they will not sit down properly in the cage. For example, an Elite water bottle does not have a rounded collar, and is more flat, so I found Elite bottles did not properly fit and gaps were evident around the bottle.
No problems during testing. I tried it on all the various mounts of the bike, and flexed it a long way out of shape, but it still returns to its original form.
It's a similar weight to other bottle cages on the market for similar money.
Slightly more expensive than some similar (and lighter) cages, but good quality and seemingly durable.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Used with shallow necked bottles, or the matching Fabric bottle, it works flawlessly. However straight-sided bottles don't sit as well. There is a knack to lifting the bottle up and over the lip area, to extract it from the cage, but this is why it holds the bottles in place so well. Once you are used to this, it's no problem.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The retention of bottles is excellent. If you have a shallow-necked bottle that suits the lip of this cage, I would be amazed if it worked its way loose.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
It's just a bit plain looking for my liking.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, when used with shallow-necked bottles.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The selling point for the Fabric Gripper bottle cage is that bottles don't come loose, and it excels at this. However, to get the best out of it you will need shallow-necked bottles that fit into the curve of the cage. Straight-necked bottles do not sit as well. The nylon construction is durable and should prove long-lasting, but the cage is slightly more expensive than others on the market. Not everyone will like the plain looks, but it performs well.
About the tester
I usually ride: GT Grade My best bike is: Boardman ASR 8.9
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: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,