It was a leap of faith. Take my iPhone and perch it in its stem-mount case directly below the water port for a new aerobar hydration unit. Fill unit with water and head out on a bumpy ride to work. Would the iPhone survive?
The bigger question was, would my boss compensate me if the iPhone died?
Granted, the iPhone case was water-resistant—but certainly not waterproof. And we’ve all experienced what happens to fluid in most aerobar hydration units. Sponge or slit neoprene cover (whatever it is that covers the port), the drink generally ends up splashing out. As much ends up on you and your bike than in your mouth. Triathletes have accepted it as par for the bike course.
Along comes a clever— and now patent pending — creation. Not only does this bottle set a new benchmark for aero hydration, it’s remarkable that such a small item can make such a huge difference in my actually liking an aerobar hydration system.
Plus it kept my iPhone—and me—dry.
As Dealer Camp opens today in Park City, Utah, a few new products will be making their debut. David Dietterle of Inviscid Design met with us a few days ago to show off what we think will be one of the hottest: the Speedfil A2 refillable aerobar hydration system.
This bottle has what it seems everyone wants in an aero hydration system: aerodynamics. The unit seems to allude to that, being that it’s called the A2. Despite the fact that it was designed and tested at the A2 wind tunnel (in conjunction with testing by Kestrel bicycles), the name simply means that it’s the company’s second iteration of aero hydration product.
The last few years have seen a few new tweaks here and there on the keel-style aero water bottles, but many athletes, from pros to age-groupers, have been just taking standard water bottles, orienting them horizontally and loading them into bottle cages (mounted with Zipties or on aftermarket products like XLab Torpedo) between the aerobar extensions. They’re easy to replace, and tests have shown them to yield greater aero advantages.
The guys from Inviscid Design took that concept to the A2 tunnel, claiming in their test that the lack of a fluid basin below the aerobars—plus the fact that the forearms act as a cowling for the dead air where a horizontally-oriented waterbottle resides—made it the way to go aerodynamically. The next step was creating something that worked in standard bottle cages. And herein lies the genius that sets it apart (aside from departing from a traditional keel-style aero hydration system).
Jeff Smith of Inviscid Design created a truly unique solution: a slide-to-open, slide-to-close de facto bottle “cap” that serves as the bottle’s fluid intake port. Instead of using a plastic “sponge” or a neoprene cover to keep the liquid in, Smith devised (and has smartly applied a patent pending to) a clever funnel the company named Zerosplash. The Zerosplash funnel screws onto the unit and is sealed by a rubber gasket, both at the unit’s Zerosplash top, and at the interface with the water bottle.
A ball-and-socket style covering can be pulled across the hinged opening. As the top opens, so opens a covering on the cover’s interior, allowing fluids to be squirted or dumped in. Once you’re done, just pull the tab to close the “lid.” Voila. You and your bike stay dry.
This item is so new that only one San Diego-based pro has been able to test it so far: Team Trek/K-Swiss 70.3 bike gunner Heather Jackson.
The bottle can be oriented backward-facing as shown, or can be reversed, with the bottle itself closer to the athlete, for athletes without the real estate on smaller, shorter aerobars. As a solution,, Inviscid Design will be debuting an optional bottle-mount bracket that mounts as a fork steer cap atop the steerer, in which instance turning the bottle around places the straw in its proper orientation. The drink straw is customizable to length upon install, is complete with a bite valve opening and a neoprene insulation cover.
The A2 unit also comes with a Velcro strap that can serve as an insurance against a trampoline-effect bottle eject (which can happen with any horizontally-mounted water bottle in a bottle cage that doesn’t hold the bottle well). With that in mind, the guys at Inviscid have a few recommendations, including the Specialized Ribcage bottles, and some Profile Design cages—effectively any bottle cage that holds the bottle in a full circumference. Even older Ciussi alloy cages or King titanium cages will do the trick, if pinched tight.
I could see the benefit for sponsored pro athletes as well; those sponsored by First Endurance, or Tyr, or PowerBar can rock their branded bottle in the A2, provided it’s one of the many Specialized-branded water bottles, including the new Purists. While tall 26-ounce bottles work well, a standard 22-ounce makes for more aerobar real estate. Plus, you refill the thing anyway, so there’s no need to go deep in volume and weight.
My test yesterday and today saw the setup as shown: using a couple zipties on a Zipp cage, and using another as a leveling platform near the front of the bottle. Midway through the ride, I tested filling it up; one bottle from the downtube into the basin, on the fly.
I was impressed. There were only incidental splashes while filling. Once I slid the cap closed? Nothing. Not a drop, even when rocking the aerobars out of saddle, or going over gapped, broken pavement. The flyer says the Zerosplash funnel “virtually” eliminates fluid splashing. I’ll go one step further and say it literally eliminates it. It’s just that good.
I was able to use a simple rubber band to bend the straw downward and out of the way—an easy adjust on the fly so your position is unfettered by the straw while riding in the aerobars.
If the aero, no-splashback design doesn’t hook you, the price very well might. It’s just $59.95, and the mount will be around $12 with vertical rise spacers and fore-aft adjust.
When will it be available? Units are, as they say, “on the water” and will be available in shops by Sept 1. “We’ll definitely be ready by all the championship races,” Dietterle said.
For more info, visit www.speedfil.com