A torpedo on my bike

Earlier this year, I read a report from Cervélo engineering about the benefits of “Between the Aerobars Hydration”. Later, Lava Magazine wrote about the announcement of the XLab Torpedo System at Eurobike. And a few days ago, I finally received one of the first XLab Torpedo System 400 red units delivered in Europe!

My requirements

For my first Ironman, the Ironman Western Australia, I expect hot temperatures. Hence, (fluid) nutrition will be very important. I know that my stomach has issues with some isotonic drinks. I have no problems with Isostar which however is not provided at the race. So, I have to bring it to the race course myself. Therefore, I was looking for a nutrition system that fulfils the following requirements:

  • can be mounted between the aerobars (easy access is more important for me than aerodynamics)
  • system with a straw for easy access
  • possibility of (easy) refill. During the race, I will use Isostar tablets (isotonic) that I mix with water
  • no conflict for the position of my bike computer (Garmin Edge 500)

The XLAB Torpedo System fulfils my requirements. As it just came to market, I was lucky that the Torpedo System just arrived at Tempo Sport the same day I flew to Mallorca for a training camp. This gave me an opportunity to gain experience with the new system on long rides before my big long day. This was important to me.

My findings

Mounting the Torpedo System

The Torpedo System sits on a carbon based Torpedo Mini Mount. The mini mount is attached to the aero bars with 4 mounting straps. The straps have non-slip silicon on one side. Therefore, the whole system sits very solid, even on the bumpy roads of Mallorca. The mounting instructions provide you with details to put it together.

Selection of the lid

The system is delivered with two different lids: a transparent, solid lid as well as a black slotted lid for quick refill.

For the first day, I chose the slotted lid. I liked the possibility to easy refill the torpedo. However, I realised that there are some draw-backs: Every time I put a bottle over the slot, some fluid runs out the bottle before it hits the slot. This is no big issue if you refill water. In my case, I had an isotonic drink… As a result, my torpedo, the mount and the handlebar all got splashed with sugary and sticky isotonic water. In addition, the often bumpy streets of Mallorca caused a few splashes from the Torpedo system. It felt like the Torpedo was spitting on me. The spitting is not a big deal but it was completely unexpected. – And don’t forget the proper cleaning of the torpedo system, the handle bar and the bike frame after the ride.

For the second and all consecutive days, I then used the transparent solid lid. On the rough streets of Mallorca, this was the proper choice: No splashes anymore! The refill required different attention: When the lid is open, you have to ensure that you do not ride over uneven surface. Otherwise, a large amount of fluid could swap out of the torpedo system. Luckily, I did not experience this risk. The other good news is that the lid can’t get lost: XLab had a clever idea to fix the solid lid at the straw. So you open the lid and move it to either side while refilling.

Both lids have pros and cons. As a conclusion, I will use the slotted lid only on smooth surfaces and plain water only. In general, I prefer the solid one.

Straw and bite valve

The torpedo system comes with a straw that can be tucked under the so-called dolphin tail. Initially, I expected that I will have my straw in this tucked position for most of the time. Very quickly, I realised that the opposite is the case for me: Only if the straw is in the upright position, a little bit under my face, I get the benefit of easy and instant access to my fluid nutrition. XLab claims that the impact of aerodynamics is minimal whether the straw is in upright position or tucked under the dolphin tail. My practice showed that I tucked it before and after the bike ride only. Although not often used, I like the option to fix the straw when needed.

The straw is very easy to bend and the bite valve is perfect: I just have to hold the valve with my lips and gently press and suck, just like I would with a traditional straw.

Bike computer mount

So far, I had my Garmin Edge 500 mounted on the stem. I think this is a suboptimal position on a tri bike like my Cervélo P3, as it sits low and far back. An alternate option is to mount the computer on one aerobar with potential interference with the arm in aero position.

With the torpedo system, I now can install my bike computer in front of the torpedo system. This brings my bike computer further forward, making it better readable when riding. Optically, the nice coincidence is that my red edition of the Garmin 500 edge matches the XLab torpedo system 400 red in same color.

Conclusion

I am very happy with the torpedo system and I can recommend it. For my long rides, I now store full bottles in my 2 bottle holders for refill and I only drink from my torpedo system.

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