I have been clamoring for the Speedfil A2 ever since I saw the product on the Speedfil Facebook page. I commented on their wall multiple times trying to find out when it was going to be sold to the public. I was excited to find out that September 1st would be the day of its release. With a late season schedule that included 2 Olympic distance triathlon and 70.3 Austin this would be a great way to train and practice for using a product I would be sure to use during Ironman Texas.
I have had the A2 for a few weeks now and wanted to put it through a few long training rides outdoors and also test it indoors on the trainer as practice. I also exchanged ideas with Jeff Irvin (you know the guy that sunk my BQ battleship by telling me I needed to run 5 minutes faster than I thought I had to.) He wanted to know a few different things so I’m going to breakdown this product review into pieces so that I cover all the bases and you have all the information you should need to purchase this product.
Installation: The first time I rode outdoors with the A2 it was strapped to my bike using zip ties. The ties worked well but the bottle would slide to one side or the other I noticed. It was not completely out of the aero bars but it was enough to bother me to have to reach down and adjust it. Also, with the zip ties the bottle was completely horizontal and this caused a problem in getting liquid into the straw for me. As the ride went on and there was less and less liquid in the bottle it became harder and harder to get full sips in. I have trained my body to get three long full sips in and this was only giving me one before I had to open the pour spout and push the straw down into the liquid.
After doing some research I noticed they had the cage mounted using a King Cage Mount . I ordered one and it was delivered in time for the second trip outdoors. This was to be a four-hour ride so I knew I would be able to put it through its paces. The first thing I noticed was that the bottle sat further back and thus a shorter straw could be used. The second item I noticed was that it was tilted enough that the liquid would always be at the bottom of the bottle. For me the king cage mount is a must.
Usability: The A2 is very simple to use but you need to be careful with how the straw is placed into the bottle. By this, I mean you need to ensure that the straw is tilted down into the liquid. If it is tilted up then you will have a tough time getting enough liquid into your straw and can become easily frustrated. If your straw is placed properly then getting liquid out is not different than the down tube Speedfil product.
My suggestion for the straw length is to not cut it immediately but rather wait until you have used the product a few times first. As Patrick pointed out to me it is easier to come up than to go down (TWSS) to get to the straw.
Refillability (Is this a word?): As you may know the bike portion of an Ironman race can take 5 or more hours depending on your ability as an age grouper. If you are on the bike for 6 hours you need to make sure that you have liquid and constantly stopping to refill is not the best idea since it is still a race. Thus you need to be able to get your hydration/nutrition into your body as efficiently as possible.
The A2 allows for this efficiency. If you have a down tube mounted Speedfil you know there is a rubber gasket that you can puncture with the top of your water bottle and fill up. It is very easy to use except that you have to reach down while going down the road but the rubber gasket makes it easy to not have to many moving parts.
The A2 is also refillable but there is no rubber gasket. Instead there is a piece that you slide open and then refill. This opening is not difficult to operate but you must remember to open it before grabbing your water bottle. I did the opposite and while it did not slow me down it resulted in extra movement on the bike. My suggestion is that when you are ready you open the bottle and then grab the refill liquid.
Cleanability: The A2 Speedfil is really nothing more than a top with a straw. You can use any standard size water bottle you want with it. The first time I went out I used the water bottle that comes with the system and the second time I used a larger bottle. The size you use will come down to distance of race and preference.
As for cleaning I put all the pieces (except for the straw) in the dishwasher and each time they came out perfect. This makes life easier since you most likely have multiple bottles to clean when you get home and being able to toss it in the dishwasher makes life simple.
Overall Review: I think this product is excellent. There are a few things that you need to workout first but once you have it should and will become an invaluable piece to your bike.
For me, I plan on using only this water bottle for Olympic distance races. For Half-Ironman and Ironman races I will fill up the A2 with liquified EFS Liquid Shot. Having the A2 allows me to put my tools and spare tube in another water bottle in a cage attached to my saddle and hopefully avoid the scenario I faced during the Austin Triathlon.
Since I have the down tube Speedfil as well having the A2 allows me to complete a half-ironman without having to stop or slow down through water stations since I can now carry all my liquid with me on the bike.
My suggestion is that if you are looking to race and not just finish then this product is a must have. No reaching behind you, meaning more time in aero, alone is worth it.
The cost is ~$60 and is worth the spend.