Specialized's new Purist WaterGate bottle takes virtually every complaint we've had about the lowly water carrier and tackles it head-on, resulting in what is hands-down the best cycling bottle available.
Leading the charge is the silica coating applied to the interior surface of the bottle using plasma vapor deposition technology – a process more typically used in the microchip industry. Though just microns thick, the flexible coating squelches any hint of plastic taste in the water, even when things get hot.
That coating also makes for effortless cleaning as all that's required is some hot water, a squirt of dish soap and some vigorous shaking, as per company recommendations. (Specialized warn against scrubbing Purist bottle interiors lest you damage the coating.)
Don't believe it's possible? We reproduced Specialized's tomato sauce test with perfect results and followed that up with chicken curry, seasoned oils and even some pesto – and each time the bottle emerged with no staining. The only hiccup came with a bit of mandarin orange-flavored Heed energy drink – that test left the slightest hint of odor but still no discoloration nor aftertaste to plain water.
After two months of near-daily use, our test bottle is still performing as good as new, though the 'do not scrub!' warning leaves us wondering about the coating's long-term durability. In the event it flakes off over time, users can at least rest assured that the silica bits are as harmless as sand and will leave a standard BPA-free bottle behind.
Making things even better is the new WaterGate valve. A redux of Specialized's old Racer's Edge design (anyone else remember those?), this latest version carries over the one-way valve so you don't have to open and close it every time you reach for a drink and adds the now-requisite locking feature with double O-ring seals that have yet to leak a single drop.
Unlike similar offerings from other manufacturers, the one-piece WaterGate valve is easily removable with a simple, firm twist so it's fully accessible with a scrub brush for cleaning and open to the elements for faster drying. Other features include easy-to-squeeze sides, a clear strip so it's easy to see what's inside – and how much is left – and a standard appearance that doesn't look different just for the sake of being so.
Sole complaints include a hefty price tag – Purist bottles cost more than twice as much as Specialized's standard Big Mouth bottles – and the omission of an insulated version for especially hot or cold rides. Aside from that, though, Specialized's Purist WaterGate is as close to the perfect water bottle as we've come.