ZEFAL PULSE Z2 BOTTLE CAGE
The Zefal Pulse Z2 Bottle Cage is marketed as a side entry design, so theoretically ideal for smaller semi/compact geometry frames, where fitting two trade sized bottles can prove challenging. There’s a lot to like but there are better options if you are looking to haul the biggest (800ml) trade bottles on very small frames.
Pros: Well made, secure and competitively priced.
Cons: Any colour you like, so long as it’s black. Entry release slower than some side-entry designs.
The Pulse Z2 is made from a sturdy, UV resistant composite, of which 50% is reinforced glass fibre. It certainly feels reassuringly solid. It's not a monocoque, rather two-piece design, so you can mount it right, or left, to suit your preference/dominant hand.
The single colour option may alienate some but keeps production costs lower and black should complement or contrast most bikes.
Component parts align nicely, and the cage includes two boss screws, which is handy-especially if you’ve just bought a new frameset, or your bike’s existing fasteners are looking a bit weary. In common with the VEL SE and similar patterns, depending on bottle size, its best suited to frames with braze-ons, rather than mount adaptors, given the twisting forces involved.
Look closely, and you’ll notice the exterior finish is satin, the inner gloss. Aside from looking sharp, this promises to make bottle entry/release easier.
I’ve switched ours between my fixed gear winter/trainer and my Univega. The latter is an obvious candidate for side-entry cages, since its only 41cm, so has a bijoux main triangle. Two 750ml trade bottles can prove tricky, especially if you’re looking for seamless, dignified, mid-ride access.
Ours has proven a reliable host to some unusual bidons, including the Relaj Shape (which isn’t a universal fit, by any means) and when mounted to my fixed gear winter/trainer’s seat tube, there’s been no hassles with larger 750/800ml trade bottles.
I’ve even managed the odd Thermos type-bike specific, and otherwise. In the latter context, my Univega’s Topeak Shuttle cage (which can also be adjusted up/down) had a small edge.
Overall performance has been favourable, in the main. It took me a matter of rides to master the angled entry/release technique, although not to the point where it was gun-slinger slick. Much the same story when switched to my Univega and its smaller main triangle meant 650ml bottles proved the sweet spot.
On the flip side, the cage’s figure-hugging profile holds bottles very securely, thus eradicating annoying rattle. The sort that typically strikes when tackling washboard tarmac and unmade roads.
That said; if you’re fond of tool-bottles, be sure you’ve packed multi-tools, tyre levers etc carefully, otherwise the tool-kit percussion will still strike up. I’ve been hustling along at 20-25mph in the latter context with no issues, suggesting it’s a good option for gravel and adventure bikes.
The Pulse Z2 is also very competitive, price-wise. Its several pounds cheaper than the otherwise likeable Vel SE . The Lezyne flow SL comes in a little cheaper at £10. However, being a composite monocoque design, you must choose left or right. There’s no option of switching things around, which may be a moot point for many. Topeak Dual Side EX is another option. Arguably a closer rival than the Lezyne and slightly cheaper (£9.99) is Topeak Dual Side Cage EX.
Overall, the Pulse Z2 is a sturdy and reliable cage that lends itself well to road and gravel duties. It’s not a side entry design in the strictest sense and on balance I would plump for something like Lezyne Flow SL for particularly small compact geometry framesets.