Bivo, a company founded by Carina Hamel and Robby Ringer, is trying to reinvent the cycling water bottle we all use. The company proudly points out that the engineer who helped design their new stainless steel bottle One worked as an engineer for NASA. It’s pretty cool, but what’s more interesting to me are the company’s high aspirations to change the reliance on semi-disposable plastic water bottles, which are currently dominating the cycling world.
The stainless steel body of the Bivo One bottle is designed to be more durable in the long run and provide better tasting water, compared to the plastic bottle you probably carry in your bottle cage on your rides. If you manage to damage the bottle beyond the point of unusability, it can be recycled. While the bottle is made in China, Bivo claims to use “factories and suppliers we trust and who take care of their employees.” In addition, Bivo offsets its carbon emissions by investing in the Cleaner, Safer Water in Cambodia project in order to make the One bottle a carbon neutral product.
These are all good things, but they would all be sort of irrelevant if the Bivo bottle were sucked. In fact, Bivo made a bottle that doesn’t suck at all – as in, you don’t have to squeeze or suck on it to get the water out.
Let’s step back for a moment because it might be a good idea to quickly explain how a conventional bicycle water bottle works. More or less, every plastic bottle works the same; by squeezing it, you change the volume of the container, forcing the water out. Once you are done squeezing, air is drawn into the bottle when it returns to its original shape. This stops drinking until air fills the void inside the bottle, in which case you can take another sip.
Since the Bivo bottle is made of stainless steel, you cannot squeeze it like you would with most traditional plastic bicycle water bottles. Instead, Bivo uses a large main nozzle for drinking and a smaller secondary orifice (right on the side) with a straw that runs the entire length of the bottle to create a steady air-liquid exchange rate. So while you are drinking, air is drawn into the bottle through the secondary port allowing water to flow smoothly until the bottle is empty. Sounds a bit too much (and I’m willing to bet you’ve never spent so much time thinking about your water bottles), but it works surprisingly well.
Drinking from a Bivo bottle is as easy as sipping a glass, without the fear of spilling it on yourself. It’s almost like a high-tech sports cup, and I say it in the best possible way. On the rides this resulted in me simply drinking more water. At first I was honestly surprised at how quickly I went through my Bivo bottles. But I suspect this is only a good thing as I often find it difficult to drink enough water on the rides.
As expected, drinking mostly from a stainless steel bottle, the water still tasted like water. No plastic aftertaste here, even in hot weather. Just keep in mind that your water will get hot (or cold) as Bivo uses single wall construction, which means there is absolutely no insulation.
Cleaning the bottle is incredibly easy. The top, straw and nozzle are easily removed for cleaning. Bivo recommends using soap, lukewarm water and washing everything by hand, but I ran my bottles in the dishwasher without any ill effects.
I had no issues with the Bivo bottles fitting or staying snug inside my King bottle cages. However, another staff member had one ejected during a road trip using a composite cage. I maintain that this is due to the fact that the composite cages do not accommodate the bottles. Either way, it’s something to keep in mind when riding around with a thirty to forty dollar bottle.
The bad –
I just mentioned it, but it’s worth repeating, these bottles cost $ 39 and $ 29 (for the raw version). Compare that to a conventional Specialized Purist bottle, which costs $ 20 for an insulated version and as cheap as $ 10 for a regular bottle. There is certainly an argument to be made that the Bivo bottle can last longer than a plastic bottle and thus justify the price difference. But it’s worth recognizing that not everyone wants or can spend $ 80 on a pair of bottles.
Also, I do not recommend Bivo bottles for the race. On the one hand, Bivo bottles are heavy: around 163 grams compared to 80 grams for a plastic bottle. Considering the price, you probably won’t want to throw them in a feed zone either. But, more importantly, Bivo bottles could pose a safety concern. I’d much rather smash a loose plastic bottle on the road, which will compress under my wheel, than a stainless steel bottle; which, according to our tests, certainly does not compress.
My last issue with Bivo bottles is their rubbery silicone finish. It’s more durable than I originally expected, but it looks rather run down after three months of on-road use. This is a purely cosmetic issue, however, as the bottles still work perfectly. For those who prefer not to deal with this kind of surface wear, Bivo offers a cheaper bottle with a raw finish. The trade-off being the raw finish is a bit more slippery, especially on hot and humid rides.
Final thoughts –
The Bivo One bottle is not perfect. But if you can live with the quirks I described, it has a few advantages. This bottle works especially well for cyclists looking to reduce their dependence on semi-disposable plastic bottles, or for people who hate the taste of plastic water.
I hope for a future version with a slightly larger volume than the current 21oz version. For those who want an insulated bottle, supposedly, one is on the way.
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