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12 Days of Triathlon Gear: Day 3 - Bike Hydration Systems

The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family, look back on the year's accomplishments, and give thanks for everything we have. But they're also an excellent excuse to stock up on triathlon gear for next season! Obviously, we're partial to our own Switch Aero System, but in this 12-part series we'll highlight and recommend some of the best triathlon gear that will get you to the finish line faster in your next race.

Hydrating while on the bike is key - everyone is used to using a traditional frame mounted water bottle cage and bottle, but there are a number of triathlon focused hydration systems and products that aim to make hydration easier while simultaneously improving your overall aerodynamics.  

What to look for:

Hands-free - When riding in an aero position you don't want to have to sit up every time you need a drink.  Luckily there are a number of good hands-free hydration options. A bottle is either mounted between the aero bars or to the frame, and drinking is done through a straw. Mounting a bike hydration system or standard cycling water bottle between your aero bars with an aerobar water bottle holder is also great from an aerodynamic standpoint, since your forearms shield the bottle from the wind.

Capacity - A great place to keep extra bottles (especially when doing a half or full Ironman) is in a rear-mounted cage (or behind-the-saddle cage). Rear cage mounts are a good option for storing additional bottles because it's easy to access and your body keeps the bottles aerodynamically shielded.

Some Recommendations:

XLAB Torpedo System:


The Torpedo is a full hands-free, between-the-arms (or "BTA") bicycle hydration system. The system is designed with aerodynamics in mind and X-Lab claims that the Torpedo is "aerodynamically invisible". The Torpedo cage will directly interface with the Redshift Water Bottle Cage Mount to give you a great hands-free solution for your Redshift Quick-Release Aero Bars. Price: $80 for the 100 and $135 for the 400.

Speedfil A2:

The Speedfil A2 is a bit different than the Torpedo because it is essentially just a water bottle cap that enables easy refill and has a aero drinking straw. If you already have a good BTA water bottle cage setup (like the Redshift Water Bottle Cage Mount) but are looking for the convenience of hands free water bottle then this is a great option for you. Price: $79 with bottle, cage, and computer mount.

Nathan AP Pro:

The AP Pro is new for 2014 and Nathan's first between the arms hydration product. It has a nice system for clipping onto the aero bars with plenty of adjustment. It holds 24 oz of fluid and includes the quick fill port similar to whats on the XLAB and Speedfil. At a price of only $60 it is bound to capture some attention.

Speedfil Standard:

The Speedfil Standard is a frame-mounted hydration system that mounts in place of a normal downtube bottle cage. It has been designed to be more aerodynamic than a normal bottle and can be refilled on the fly. Price: $80. 

TorHans Aero:

The TorHans Aero bottle and mount is a vertical BTA hands-free drinking solution. The mounting bracket allows the bottle to be mounted in two different vertical positions, letting you fine tune the location to suit your riding position. Because the TorHans bracket mounts directly to the aero bar extensions, this type of mount will make it more time consuming to remove your Redshift Quick-Release Aero Bars. Price: $70.

XLAB Delta and Wing Series: 

 DELTA 100Turbo Wing

XLAB makes a number of single and double rear cage mounts. The single mounts are in their Delta series and the double mounts are in the Wing series. With the Wing series you can also attach other gear and bags. Price: $50-$90 for Delta and $100-$350 for the Wing.

Speedfil R3:

The Speedfil R3 is a rear seatpost water bottle cage mount that allows for single or double cages. It also includes a place to keep CO2 cartridges.

Stephen using his Redshift between the arms (BTA) water bottle cage.