I bought a new (to me) tri bike last fall as an upgrade from the road bike I used last year with clip on aero bars. I worked hard on a business case my family would approve, and then blew my whole (limited!) budget on the bike. This meant I had all winter to research hydration systems and then justify buying them! I planned to use a behind the seat style bottle mount which I had experience with, and was thinking about a bottle cage on my aerobars.
I liked the idea of a front bottle system for a couple of reasons. It would provide extra storage for long rides. It would also keep a bottle in front of you at all times as a mental reminder to drink.
I looked at a few of the styles of front hydration systems, but I didn’t want the large hanging bottle style since I prefer a bottle over drinking from a straw. I settled on the X-Lab Torpedo system and once I got over the sticker shock I ordered the carbon mounting plate and cage as a kit. There is also an aluminum mounting plate that is a little less to purchase.
The installation of the mount was simple once I got my head around where/how all the velcro straps go! It’s a great design because its easily removable/transferable/adjustable yet still rocksolid. The plate also allows fore/aft adjustment of the water bottle cage which I found helpful to get it in the right place on the bars (so as not to interfere with my hand placement). It requires a minimum spacing (9cm centre to centre) between your aerobars so if you are particular about keeping your bars very close, this might not work for you. I had to move mine out to the minimum distance but I still find it comfortable and it mounted perfectly.
So far I have been very happy with the torpedo hydration system. I haven’t raced with it but in all my training rides I haven’t had any problems with it getting in the way, coming loose, or ejecting the bottle. Its always in my face reminding me to hydrate, and is easy to get a bottle in and out of quickly. I’ve used it with a few different bottle types and sizes and they have all worked fine. One thing to remember is to be sure you use it with bottles that have a good seal at the top. I have some old bottles with snap top lids that would likely leak in the horizontal position, and some with worn flow valves that would also likely drip.
My hope is that this system will be durable enough to last me a long time and warrant the initial expense, and so far I have no reason to doubt that this will be the case.
-Mounting holes on cage concern me, but I give X-lab the benefit of the doubt that it will hold up
-Hard to find in my area (x-lab needs a dealer in Niagara!)