XLAB Hydration System – Final Thoughts

We’ve been riding the XLAB’s Torpedo System for a month now, and our initial impressions shared in our First Look post have, for the most part, remained consistent. We did have some early reservations since we’ve always been fans of straw-based  BTA systems, but we are pleased to report that the XLAB Torpedo System is an extremely simple hydration solution that gets the job done.

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XLAB’s Torpedo system consists of the Torpedo MountTorpedo Cage, and the Aqua Shot Bottle. Together they create a front-mount BTA system that is compatible with almost any aerobar setup (including clip-on aerobars). The system allows you to easily swap bottles, as well as grab bottles on the fly from aid stations on race day. XLAB contends that this is the fastest setup possible. And since you don’t have to break the aero position to refill bottles or have a straw hanging out in the wind, XLABs claims that the Torpedo system is even faster than both Torhans and Speedfil BTA systems. While, we cannot validate this contention without proper wind tunnel testing, we can tell you that the Torpedo system did seem nicely tucked away from the wind. Also, the system did make for speedy bottle swaps.

Torpedo Mount and Torpedo Cage

The Torpedo Mount is a single piece of carbon fiber (or aluminum) that allows for a cage mount. It comes with 4 Velcro straps for easy attachment to aero bar extensions. As we mentioned in our First Look post, we loved how XLABs incorporated smart features into the Torpedo Mount to improve the overall ease of use. For example, on the backside of each Velcro strap is a small strip of silicon that prevents the mount from sliding back and forth. We found this to be absolutely brilliant.

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The Torpedo Cage itself is much like our favorite Gorilla cages produced by XLAB. Crafted from carbon fiber, the cage is designed with horizontal mounting in mind. While the cage does not have tight grip of the Gorilla, we never found that to be an issue (horizontal mounting obviously does not possess the same launch risks of vertical mounting). In fact, we never had a single bottle so much as slip through the entirety of our testing.

The Torpedo System weighs in at 78 gram, when the cage is attached to the mount. Overall, this is a very lightweight method for carrying hydration in the aerodynamic shadow of your arms.

The Aqua Shot Bottle

As a side note, by now you probably realize that the AG team loves bottles. Some would say that we’re even a bit obsessed with owning all of the different options available—and we’re OK with that.

With that in mind, we were excited to give the Aqua Shot a try. From the very first ride, we could tell that the Aqua Shot (25oz) was extremely good at doing what its name implies—allowing a rider to quickly and efficiently empty the contents of the bottle into your mouth.

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The top contains a self-sealing, pressure-actuated valve (no need to open the valve with your teeth before drinking) that produces a steady stream of liquid when pressure is applied. When not in use, the bottle remains fairly drip free (though over bumps we did experience slight leakage from the valve).

XLAB touts the 4-oz markings on the Aqua Shot, which are intended to help allow athletes monitor their hydration intake. However, we were never able to actually take advantage of this since that required us to concentrate on the bottle rather than the road. And at 22mph while in an aero tuck…let’s just say that some things are better left to Crowie or Macca. Instead, we eliminated the need to monitor the liquid levels ahead of time by determining that we were delivering around 4 ounces each time we gave the bottle a good, hard squeeze.

Final Impressions

When Devon and Mike discuss this setup they often refer to it as a “pro-level setup.” It’s simple, effective, and fast. The only catch is that these advantages require an aggressive arm position (to best hide the bottle in the aerodynamic shadow), as well as the ability to easily drink while in the aero position. We understand that new riders may find this a little intimidating at first. But as newbies gain confidence, this kind of setup will help to improve their riding skills in time.

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One of our readers (@OsPalmer) shared his thoughts with us about the Torpedo system via Twitter. He felt like the system could help riders avoid over-hydration since the lack of an easily-accessible straw prevented the intake of unnecessary fluids. And we tend to agree. With the Torpedo system, you drink when you think about drinking—not just to relieve boredom. On the other hand, the downside was that we sometimes did end up a little dehydrated on our rides since we had to be much more conscious of our actual hydration needs. Again this is where the concept of a pro-level system comes into play. You need to have a rock-solid fuel plan in place (and follow it to the letter) with a bottle like this.

At AG, we love a product that helps us hone our skills as athletes. Add to this to the fact that the Torpedo system is brilliantly engineered, and we were easily won over.

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6 responses to “XLAB Hydration System – Final Thoughts

  1. Pingback: 3/17/2013 – AeroGeeks Week in Review | AeroGeeks·

  2. I recently added this setup on my bike and thought it was great. The one issue I had was drinking while tucked. I use a camelback insulated bottle and when it was full I had no problems drindking while tucked. The problem I experienced was getting the water to shoot out of the bottle when it wasn’t completely full (about half empty) and trying to stay tucked. What does the aqua shot bottle do to remedy this?

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    • I think the answer to this can only be answered in two parts.

      First is the Aqua Shot itself. The bottle was designed from the outset to be easily drunk from in the tucked position. To accommodate this, the bottle is very easy to squeeze (which is the reason we believe it cannot be made in an insulated version due to the thicker plastic that would be required), far easier than a Camelback. In addition the top itself is easier to get liquid through; there are no additional valves besides the external valve you drink though (where the Camelback has an additional lock to allow it to be sealed). The downside is that it tends to dribble a bit more than we have experienced with a Camelback.

      Secondly is the “pro-level” nature of the Torpedo/Aqua-Shot. As you drink through the liquid in the bottle you are going to be forced to hold the bottle in a more vertical orientation. This is going to require you to hold your head in a position that is more parallel than perpendicular to the ground. If you ever see shots of professionals such as Macca or Crowie drinking from a bottle you will see their head is often times turned all the way to the side and the bottle held near vertical. To do this requires the rider to have very good bike handling skills. If you have never tried this before, make sure you try it in a trainer first to get a feeling for how your body needs to turn to accomplish this.

      Hopefully this answers the question, but if not lets us know and we can get deeper into specifics.

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  4. Pingback: XLAB Torpedo System – First Look | AeroGeeks·

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