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The Great Water Bottle (Bidon) Conundrum: How Big is Big Enough, How Much is Enough?!

I have always carried max-load water bottles on my bike.  24 oz. or better.  I figured, I ride so far I may as well use maximum capacity bottles because I don’t want to get caught out…  Then I was offered a couple of minimum capacity bottles, old club bottles that have been tucked away in storage for years, just a few weeks ago:


Just look at those tiny little fellas….

I took those two baby water bottles on DALMAC.  376 miles over four days with maybe a few rest stops per day on the way up.  I never ran out of water (or Gatorade, whichever I was carrying).  All these years I’ve been lugging around those massive water bottles for no good reason whatsoever – I’ve done just fine with the 16 oz. bottles.

My attitude toward the smaller bottles started changing when my wife went through a breast cancer scare.  I was sporting pink water bottles wherever I rode, just to let her know she had my undeniable, unwavering support.  Those pink jugs were of the smallish varieties as well.  There were a couple of times where I got down to the last few swigs, but I never really ran dry either.

My reality is this:  Those big 24-26 ounce water bottles are quite unnecessary.  Unless I’m  planning on a long ride with no stops, in warm weather, it doesn’t make sense to bother with the extra pound or more.  As is usual, I’ve heard that the big bottles are unnecessary but I didn’t believe it.  I had to find out for myself.  And I did. 

I’ve blown some serious cash over the years on water bottles, only to find out I’ve been lugging around extra weight for nothing. 

Again, for touring or long rides with no stops, you’ll need the high capacity bottles.  For anything else, I prefer the smallish bottles.