- High water flow
- Lightweight and well-priced
- Clever, easy to use cap keeps crap off the valve
Water bottles aren't the most exciting bits of kit, but Elite's Fly MTB 550 bottle has had a bit more thought put into it than most, with a neat, quick-release cover to keep filth off the valve, lightweight construction and high volume flow. It's great for riders or racers that get out in foul weather, whether on dirt or hardpack.
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The bottle is exactly the same as the Elite Fly, which claims to be the lightest water bottle going and at 71g for this 550ml item, it's certainly not bulky. That's achieved by using a variable thickness wall with a thin middle and thicker base. That also helps it give a powerful flow of water when you squeeze it - it's quite possible to waterboard yourself if you aren't careful.
The really groovy bit is the little cap that covers the valve. It does a really good job of keeping mud - and worse - away from where you'll be drinking, which is the traditional downside of using a water bottle on an off-road bike. It's easy to release it with a single hand before drinking and makes virtually no difference to the speed of drinking once you've got the knack.
It's free of BPA - a chemical in plastic that is linked with cancer - it's dishwasher safe and can handle liquids up to 40º, so it's perfectly safe for putting some lukewarm tea in, assuming that fits with your hydration strategy.
After plenty of use in all conditions - including heavy rain and mud and extreme heat - the bottle looks fairly careworn but it's maintained it's shape and function just fine. It's also easy to clean the rubber valve to clean out any funk too.
It seems to works well with a number of different bottle cage designs, the fact that I still have all the bottles I started with always being a good sign. As well as this compact clear 550ml version, it's available in black plus there are 750ml and mighty 950ml options for the thirsty kids with plenty of frame space.
All in all, it's a great bottle for any rider - dirt or road - that doesn't want to consume what they've been riding through. It's also lightweight and reasonably priced, so there's little not to like.