A Cure for My Drinking Problem: The Torhans Hydration Review (Updated!)
(Review was updated on 1/14/12)
I have a drinking problem. On the bike that is. Ok, on the bike at least. Relax, its not as bad as it sounds. While I actually do enjoy the taste of Ironman Perform somewhat, at least for the first six hours of the Ironman, my drinking dilemma is not due to overindulgence. Quite the opposite; I can’t get enough liquids in.
You know the drill. You’re cruising into that aid station at mile 80. You’re tired. You haven’t been taking in enough water because that darn straw on your hydration unit is too low. You manage to grab a bottle from the volunteer without getting impaled by someone behind you. You take a swig of cool H20. Maybe splash some on your head for the ladies. Then you fill your front bottle all the way up with the rest before setting off on capturing that Kona qualifying time. Of course, your new determination is quickly replaced with the f-word: frustration. As soon as you hit a road surface less smooth than a baby’s butt, the fresh water splashes out the top of your front bottle, quickly adding to the sticky mess on your legs and bike. Believe it or not, Gatorade does not work well through the pores of freshly shaven legs.
Maybe you don’t have my problem. More power to you. But if you’re the 99%, you know this situation. After having suffered this broken record in two Ironmans, I decided enough was enough. It was time to rethink my hydration system.
When looking at new systems, I had the following desires:
- There should be minimal splash out.
- It should be relatively light. I am a weak cyclist. I don’t want to carry around 80 ounces of water all day.
- It should be stable. More on that later.
With these parameters in mind, I began researching the various hydration units out there. I didn’t like the torpedo mounts as I was concerned about the bottles from the aid stations fitting right, as well as my ability to remove the bottles safely. I also have heard through other reviews that they can be a little flimsy between the bars.
I took a gander at the Speedfill. I just can’t justify carrying around that much fluid around during a race. I have my own nutrition, and I only need two regular sized aero water bottles of that on the downtube for an entire race. I just exchange them at special needs. Likewise, I have used a rear hydration system before, mainly the Xlab carrier. That worked pretty well, but it was a bit heavy.
So, that led me back to the smaller front hydration systems. My current system was the Profile Design Aqualite.
I had been using that setup since August 2011. At first, things seem to work relatively well. However, after a few months, the unit basically began falling apart. The black plastic “top” fell off first. Despite my use of two yellow “scrunchies”, water sloshed out of these things faster than money flows out of Wall Street. On top of that, the Velcro straps that attached the bottle to my aero bars had worn out, and the bottle sagged so much it sat on top of my front brake.
Of all the various products out there, the system that caught my eye the most was by Torhans. While aero savings for a bottle are not a really big factor in my neck of the age group, I couldn’t help but get excited about some of the aero features of this. I especially liked the fairing around the straw. In addition, they were apparently designed with a baffle system to minimize sloshing. Jackpot. Plus, this thing was made by two pilots, and everyone knows that pilots are just the coolest people in the world. I had to get one.
What’s even better about Torhans is how personable they are. I sent a quick email to the company to see if they would be interested in sending me a unit to write about. I really didn’t expect anything back, especially when Chrissie Wellington was rocking a Torhans unit on her way to victory in Kona this year. She kind of has a bigger publicity profile than me. But, holy cow, a reply came back and a week later, I was staring at some nice goodies from Bend, Oregon. Alright, let’s get unpacking.
Okay, before we proceed, let me get the disclaimers out there. I am no pro. Far from it. I will likely never qualify for Kona. I do triathlon and Ironmans to stay healthy and to finish. I finished CDA in a measly 13:15 this year. My bike handling skills are weak. So, if you’re looking for a review to help you shave off enough seconds to finish off the bike with Crowie this year, you need to look somewhere else.
Second, I have no financial interest in Torhans. They did give me a discount for writing this review, but that’s it.
In The Box
For my set up, I went with an Aero 20 bottle, the reverse mount, and the computer tray. In the mount package, you get the mount, two zip ties, and two 3M style sticky mounts.
There is one thing that doesn’t come with the mount, a Velcro strap. More on that later. The bottle itself is said to hold 20 ounces, hence the name. After measuring the water, that would include the space between the interior baffle and the lid. More on that latter also.
The mount comes in a “standard” and “reverse” type. The reverse mount, which I have, is designed for bars with minimal straight section in front of the mount. As you can see below, I had barely enough room to use with my bars.
Another thing to note is the tolerable aero bar width for the reverse mount. My bars are 4.5inches apart, from the inside of the bars. This is slightly over the width of the mount’s brackets.
For the bottle, you get the bottle, straw, fairing, baffle, and cap.
For the computer tray, you get the …you guessed it, the tray. And no Velcro strap.
First up, off with the old Velcro. Won’t need that anymore. Next up, I put on the included sticky mounts.
As you can see, there is a smooth surface in the mount for the stickers to adhere too.
And there we have it. One thing to notice is that two slots on the front of the mount. That is where a strap would go to secure the bottle in the mount. I take this to mean that the mount is not designed to hold the bottle unassisted. So let’s add the bottle to this thing.
And there we go. The bottle fits in pretty snug. But not snug enough. It will fall out if you don’t use some sort of strap to hold it in. One of the cool design features of this bottle is the use of a baffle to keep the splashing down. It’s a feature found in many fuel tanks, especially in aircraft (see, I told you pilots were cool). It essentially creates another barrier to sloshing.
There are three small holes that make sure the baffle is properly aligned. After that, the exterior cap goes on.
Next up, let’s get to that straw. I’ve heard that on earlier Torhans units, the fairing shook loose pretty easily. Looks like they fixed it on this model. In fact, getting the fairing onto the bottle takes a surprising amount of force. It’s not going anywhere unless you’re going off roading on your tri-bike.
The straw fits in pretty snug also. The length is perfect for my geometry. In fact, its high enough that I sometimes find myself accidentally brushing my chin against it in aero. This is probably a good thing as I am notorious for not drinking enough water during a race.
Next up, I added the computer tray. This neat gizmo comes with several different mounting options for a computer. I have a Garmin 310xt. I also own the bike mount for that unit, and I used the rubber straps from that to secure the bike mount to the tray.
And that’s it folks. Time for the open road. If you want more info in the setup, Torhans has their own video on the YouTube.
For my first ride, I took this baby out on a three hour adventure across Montana. The first thing I noticed was the noise. With my setup, this thing was loud; it just produced an ongoing shaking noise. Louder than my Profile Aqualite. I certainly didn’t see any shaking. I’m planning on getting some extra padding material to add a slight sound buffer. It’s nothing really crucial, but it’s fair to say you may not be enjoying the sounds of nature much with this thing.
It could be that the extra shaking noises I was hearing was secondary to the outstanding stability the unit had combined with my aluminum frame. It didn’t move at all despite the bumps. I had to make no readjustments in the unit throughout the ride. In my opinion, the combination of the sticky pads and the zip ties provides a much more stable setup than velcro. That being said, anytime you want to remove your mount, you will need to cut the zip ties and use new ones. Just something to note. My former comments about the straw were true; it stayed put without any exceptions.
Refilling did prove to be a little more difficult than I had hoped. I tried it out inside, which turned out to be a big mistake. I took a regular water bottle, put it in the top port, and squeezed. That interior baffle makes it a little difficult to fill this thing fast. I basically filled up the volume between the baffle and the cap quickly; the rest of the water poured out of the top. This was with a “medium” squeeze as I was concerned about getting water all over my wife’s kitchen. I have a suspicion that if I was to fill with a “damn’t I’m in an Ironman and I really have to pee” squeeze, the water would blast past the interior baffle without problem. Lets try.
The most important feature to me is that my water stays in the bottle. The roads here, well, lets just say, the 10 months of winter can be brutal on asphalt. Okay, it’s like riding on a cheese grater, during an earthquake. Despite shaking more than Travolta’s hips in fiction of pulp type, I barely had any splash or slosh. I did notice some slight spray on the top of the unit, but that’s it. I don’t have a cool GoPro camera to show you in real time, so I thought I would provide a surrogate.
So there we have it folks. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the Torhans unit and I can’t wait to rock it in Ironman Arizona. If you’re thinking about a front aero bottle, I highly recommend it. There’s barely any splashing. Everything fits snug and precise. There’s no wondering about this thing’s rigidity; its not going anywhere during your race.
Of course, not everything is perfect. It’s a little loud. It definitely makes a mess while filling with the baffle. Another thing that I am confused about is why neither the reverse mount nor computer tray came with Velcro ties, even though there are places to use them. It’s not too much of a big deal. I made a quick trip to Lowes, and in their “fastener” section, they had a large selection of Velcro ties. I got all these for about 8 bucks.
****UPDATE: Since posting my review, Torhans contacted me and stated that their mounts do indeed come with a velcro strap and they apologized for the mix up. A strap is on its way to me currently. In addition, to improve refilling on the go, they said you can cut one of the leaves in the baffle slightly. Doing so will let more water in without letting any significant amount out. I will try that for Ironman Arizona and get back to you after the real world test.
****UPDATE 2: I cut the baffle out and it worked flawlessly! Here’s the video proof:
****UPDATE 3: And here is the much requested new shake test with the cut baffle.
This just goes to show how responsive Torhans is to their customers!
No splashing or sloshing
Cool fairing on the straw
Posted on November 7, 2011, in Uncategorized and tagged Aero Bottle, baffle, computer tray, Front Hydration, Ironman Arizona, review, Torhans, Torhans 20, triathlon. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.