It has been hard work finding an aero water bottle. My first one kept falling out, which makes it no good. I’ve recently bought an X-Lab Aero TT bottle, which hopefully will stay put, and save the odd couple of watts.
Specialized S-Works Aero Water Bottle
This was a very cheap way to improve aerodynamics. Only £14.99 for bottle and cage. It’s quite thin and fits on to frame nicely. The capacity is 600ml, which is fine for most time trials. Though on longer ones like 100 mile time trial, you may prefer 800ml which will reduce the need to pick up bottles.
It was easy and intuitive to pick out of bottle cage and just as easy to put back in. It felt fairly solid, but then on two occasions, it jumped out on a bumpy descent. As I often race on bumpy roads (which UK roads are not bumpy?) I couldn’t trust this bottle. Also, on one occasion when jumping out, it got smashed. I think I ended up buying a second one, but this one jumped out too, so I’ve completely given up on this bottle.
- Specialized S-Works at Evans – only £10.99
‘X-Lab Aero TT’
I bought this X-Lab Aero TT because it had good reviews for staying in place. You can definitely understand why it stays in place – it is actually hard to pull the bottle out of its cage. The first time, I thought this is pretty difficult. However, there is a good trick for getting the bottle out, you have to lift the black cap at the top of the bottle, and then it comes out OK. Putting the bottle back in, also, requires practice. You have to put the end in first and then push it down. I’m confident of its ability to stay in place, I’m less confident of my ability to seamlessly get the bottle out during the pressure of a race (when racing, taking a drink is often really hard work). It is made in the US and comes with those outdated US imperial measurements of 20 oz (or as we say in the rest of the world 585ml.)
X-Lab Aero TT
- Weight of bottle and cage 90 grams
- Taste free. BPA Free Polyethylene
- There is an easy-grip groove to help withdraw from Hi-grip cage. I didn’t find this useful though, the best way to get it out is to pull by the neck.
- Looks relatively good
- Cap is strong and solid. Easy to fill with powder/liquid.
The cage is longer than your typical water bottle cage. Fortunately, it comes with quite a degree of flexibility where you place it on the down tube (or seat tube)
I needed this flexibility when putting on two bottles.
X-Lab Aero water bottle £40.49 (RRP – £44.99( at Chain Reaction cycles
Elite Crono CX
Another bottle I looked at was the Elite Crono CX. The non-carbon fibre version is quite reasonable at £24.99. It has go faster dimples. I can’t remember why I didn’t get this. Reviews are generally positive.
- Elite Crono CX at Evans Cycles
How much does an aero water bottle save?
I’m not sure how much an aero bottle save. Manufacturers are keen to throw out figures, such as saving 20 watts compared to a standard water bottle. X-Lab claim their bottle can save 20 seconds in a 25 mile TT. I tend to be somewhat suspicious of this kind of claim, because if I added up all the claimed aero savings of manufacturers, I would be tackling the World Hour Record this weekend.
Tests by Cervelo suggest that a water bottle was of significance. Removing a water bottle saved 2.8% at 250watts, removing an aero bottle saved 1.6%. 1% of 250 watts, is roughly 2.5 watts, which sounds feasible.
I didn’t bother with an aero water bottle last season, because I reasoned professional cyclists never seemed to bother either – just using standard water bottles. However, a very quick inspection reveals that UCI regulations have actually banned aero water bottles.
I believe the UCI regulation is question is that – ‘bottles themselves must not exceed maximum cross-section dimensions of 10cm or less than 4cm.’
So there you go.