One of the Wattie Elite Team’s sponsors is Speedfil. Speedfil makes hydration systems for bikes, including the frame-mounted time trial bike Standard, the between-the-arms (BTA) aerobar-mounted A2, and the frame-mounted mountain bike F2. Professional triathlete Heather Jackson uses the Speedfil Standard, while professional triathlete Andy Potts used the A2 during the 2012 without any contract or endorsement deal.
For several years now, wind tunnel testing, particularly testing by Cervelo, has shown that a BTA bottle is the method of carrying a water bottle that will create the least drag (the Cervelo P4’s integrated frame bottle being a possible exception). Not only does a BTA bottle create the least drag, it actually reduces drag. I have used a BTA bottle for the last 5 or 6 years now, preferring it to other aerobar-mounted hydration systems that rattled and splashed out half their contents (especially on courses like IM70.3 Vineman and Full Vineman).
This year, however, I had Ironman Texas, a race that is notorious for heat and humidity and wanted my fluids easily and quickly accessible. It more than delivered.
The Speedfil A2 replaces the standard cap of a standard water bottle and with a top that has a straw and fill cap. The Speedfil A2 is compatible with any Specialized-type water bottle (although a 20 oz bottle is included). This does not mean you have to go to a Specialized dealer and buy a bottle with the big-S on it. Specialized makes many of the custom water bottles you get at events, bike shops, etc., so chances are you probably have one already. Also important is that unlike other systems I have used, the A2 does not splash. Given that I have to ride over an ugly set of tree roots almost any time I go out for a ride, I have had plenty of opportunities to find out.
The advantage of the A2 is in its adaptability. You can use a 20 oz bottle like the one included, or you can use a larger bottle. However, the cap itself adds several ounces, so even if you use it with a 20 oz bottle, it should hold around 24-26 oz. You also have multiple options for attaching it to your aerobars. The A2 does not include a water bottle cage or any other attachment hardware, but this is precisely because Inviscid Design anticipates that athletes will choose an attachment method that works best or them. A velcro strap is included, however, to keep the A2 from bouncing out of whatever cage you choose to use. Possible mounting options, among others, include –
- A water bottle cage zip-tied between the aerobar extensions;
- An X-Lab Torpedo
- The Speedfil A2 stem mount, which allows you to attach a water bottle cage to a standard headset topcap. This may be a necessary option for bikes with ski-bends and/or smaller bikes with shorter extensions. It will not, however, work on bikes with integrated stems, such as the Trek Speed Concept, Scott Plasma 3, or BMC TM01.
In addition to various mounting options, you can attach the Speedfil A2 with the straw in front of or behind the bottle. All of these various mounting options mean you can position the A2 in a way that is optimal for you. The straw will stick up in the wind (although some athletes tuck it down with a rubber band or velcro), but you can cut the straw down to the shortest length that will work for you and the accessibility means you never have to break from you aero position or disrupt your pace in order to drink.
If you are my height (5’9″) the A2 works especially well with aerobar extensions mounted above the basebar, such as those on the 3T Aura and Brezza aerobars, Zipp Alumina, Trek Speed Concept, and Specialized Shiv. Allowing some extension to extend behind the clamps gives you more “real estate,” and therefore more flexibility, for attaching the A2. It also gives me extra space for my Garmin. Mounting a bike computer where you can easily see it can be challenging, although this is not a challenge unique to the A2. Some athletes use rubber bands to attach the computer to the bottle used for the A2 (Speedfil will have a Garmin-mount available for the A2 later this month, along with a behind the saddle hydration system with unparalleled adjustability).
I attach the A2 as far back as I can on my extensions and then use a Profile Design UCM to mount my Garmin in front of the A2, where it is very, very easy to see. Other athletes use a similar method with a Barfly TT or even a piece of PVC.
The A2 has worked extremely well for me. Gloria (a.k.a. Dr. G), by comparison, prefers the Speedfil Standard. It puts less weight on her aerbars, which she felt affected her handling, and is a lot easier to set up with her relatively short aerobar extensions. Finally, it carries 40 oz, so she can refill less often.
The A2 retails for $59.99. Mounting hardware, other than some zip ties, is not included. I also highly recommend the tube cleaning brush, available from Speedfil for $11.99, or something similar.