By Tom Demerly.
What is it about pilots? The Wright Brothers owned a bike shop and tinkered constantly. Hans Bielat, the “Hans” in TorHans, shares the tinkering ethos in addition to being a pilot for Southwest Airlines on the B737.
Refinement makes a product the best in category. As another pilot, Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “Perfection is not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” To that end, TorHans has engineered refinements in their already best-in-class hydration systems for the Fall 2011 season.
The big news from TorHans is the new Aero 20 system, an all new 22 ounce capacity, BPA free aerobottle system with enhanced aerodynamics for all aerobar set-ups. This system is the choice of Ironman World Champion Chrissy Wellington, a significant endorsement since Wellington has her pick of hydration sponsors- many with larger promotional budgets. Wellington went with TorHans because it works.
The new radius on the leading edge provides a low drag solution at all mounting angles. In aviation terms, it is a sort of “adaptive airfoil”. With the new system your aerobars can be at almost any angle and the bottle still provides an aero benefit.
“The big news is the Aero 20, a new 22 ounce system with enhanced aerodynamics for all aerobar set-ups.”
The TorHans Aero 20 has slightly less fluid capacity than a conventional large water bottle. The TorHans Aero 20 holds 22 fluid ounces. The bottle can be filled while riding from another bottle by squirting the contents into the top at the black fill cap. The fill cap has a “punch-through” opening to allow filling on the go, inspired by the mid-air refueling opening in some military aircraft.
New material on both the Aero 20 and Aero 30 are also BPA free plastic, a feature missing from other brands of handlebar hydration systems. Molding on the new bottles includes increased length in the mounting channels to further stabilize the bottle and the accessory tray.
A new anti-slosh device takes an engineering cue from fuel tanks on large aircraft. A secondary baffle inside the fill cap prevents fluid from moving or spilling when you hit bumps. The addition of a foam dual-adhesive tape layer between the mount and the aerobar further reduces vibration and spilling.
We tested the anti-slosh/anti-spill cap the way the pilots next door at Davis-Monthan AFB test new aircraft: We took it way beyond normal use. When we filled the new TorHans Aero 20, and then violently shook the bottle- much more movement and force than any bike would encounter except during a bad crash- we got no spillage from the cap. The only water ejected was from the straw. On rough roads this unit only spills (literally) a few drops when completely full, no spilling at all after the first drink.
Next we filled the TorHans Aero 20 and dropped it from 6 feet onto concrete. On impact some fluid leaked from under the cap, and a small amount ejected out of the straw. The cap and straw connection remained intact. The newest version of the TorHans units, both the new Aero 20 and the Aero 30, use the new fill caps. If you crashed during a race or your bike were knocked over in transition with a full TorHans Aero 20- and it were installed correctly- it is likely leakage would be minimal. You would still have a race-able hydration system.
“When we violently shook the bottle… no spillage from the cap.”
Another area TorHans has taken an aviation cue is crash survivability. The new drinking straw and fairing are more flexible silicone material and the aerodynamic drink tube fairing, the black airfoil shape that surrounds the tube, is made to pop off during an impact when the rider could land on the drinking straw. This is a nice safety feature. It also allows quick and easy disassembly and reassembly of the unit for packing.
Mounting brackets on the TorHans Aero 20 mount the same way as the Aero 30, using zip ties, which are more secure than Velcro straps- especially when wet. The addition of two sided adhesive foam pads also damp vibration to the bottle through the handlebars on rough roads.
TorHans also features two mounting bracket options for precise mounting on a wide range of aerobars. The brackets place the bottle either slightly farther forward or rearward on the aerobars. One of these brackets fits every aerobar configuration we tried, including Profile, Easton, PRO, HED, Zipp and others.
To determine which of the two TorHans mounting brackets is best for your aerobars, decide if you have a long flat section of aerobar in front of your handlebar stem or a short section. If you have a long, flat section (10 cm or more) of exposed aerobar to attach your TorHans mount to- buy the TorHans mount with the mounting legs that angle forward toward the front of your bike.
If your aerobars have a short flat section to attach your TorHans mount to- buy the TorHans mount with the mounting legs that angle rearward toward the back of your bike.
Along with the two mounting brackets TorHans introduced an aero tray to hold power meter computer heads such as the CycleOps Joule, cyclocomputers and GPS units such as the larger Garmins. The tray uses a series of mount points for zip ties to grab. It will fit nearly every computer mount available with a little work. The aero tray mounts to the top rail mount on the TorHans rail accessory mounting point.
With the introduction of the new Aero 20 and the rolling improvements from the Aero 20 included in the larger Aero 30 the TorHans hydration systems have become the performance leaders in the hydration category. Their meticulous wind tunnel design- not just testing- produced the shapes TorHans is using. Refinements in the aerodynamic shape during the tooling process improved the function and durability of the bottle while retaining the aerodynamic benefits. It is an impressive combination of functional features and aerodynamic benefits. The TorHans hydration units are more expensive than brands like Profile, but the more recent engineering may be worth it for riders looking for every performance edge like top pro Chrissy Wellington.
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