|Beaker Concepts H5
Beaker Concepts burst onto the hydration scene a few years ago with the carbon HydroTail, and is quickly becoming a staple in the high tech biking arsenal of triathletes all over the world. From amateurs to most notable world champions like Norman Stadler, this lightweight behind-the-seat hydration carrying system is as common on today’s long distance racing scene as aero helmets. The new aluminum H5 soon followed as a more cost effective solution to the old problem of transporting liquids for long rides. I have been testing the H5, as well as several others hydration systems over the past few years, and this is not a bunch of smoke being blown by Beaker Concepts. The H5 was easier to install than the others I have ridden with, partly because of the thinner metal, and lack of star washers. The H5 came in considerably lighter than the others, and did not sit above the saddle like the XLAB Flatwing, which made mounting the bike a breeze. The H5 was taken on some of the roughest paved roads in and around Boulder County, as well as across the some of the nastiest railroad tracks in the area without a single water bottle ejection.
Of particular note, the same water bottle cages were used on the H5 that were installed on the other systems. It is my theory that the reason for zero ejections was because the H5 does seem to have a slight amount of flex when riding over bumps, potholes or railroad tracks, which negates the inertia which would otherwise eject bottles. While I did not get a chance to test the actual carbon fiber version of the HydroTail, the H5 performed its function as it should. I had tried different configurations including a single bottle cage off of the back/third set of mounting holes, with the same results. Looking at some pictures of the H5C on other forums, I had attempted to invert the system by mounting it upside down (which puts it in comparable bottle to saddle height with the XLAB Flatwing.) Unfortunately, without bending the H5 frame I was not able to accomplish this and fasten the H5 brackets on my Fizik Arione 2 saddle. Whether or not it would work with another saddle that has a different rail angle, is something I will have to attempt with future saddles. While the H5 sits quite low compared to others on the market, it is with good reason, as it seemed to be completely hidden from the turbulent airflow which normally comes off the rider’s lower back.
The only “con” I seemed to experience with the H5 was the bottles were slightly out of reach in the aero position (which may be from me having short arms). But the 1-2 inches out of reach issue was exactly what I had experienced with the other behind-the-seat hydration systems as well, so it scored even with the others for aero position reach. However, when sitting up pedaling, the bottles were right within my grasp, and no twisting of the body was needed. I was able to utilize the XNUT in the third cage mounting holes to thread on an inflate adaptor and CO2 cartridges as well, I really think it would be best to just tape the cartridges onto the seat post or just below the seat post clamp or use the Velcro straps which are included.
Below are the specs for the RECENT three different systems I have tested, using an Ultimate Table Top scale, brand new and out of the box. When I spoke with Andrew Block of Beaker Concepts about the H5, it was only a day and a half before my new H5 arrived. That sort of service, in my opinion, sets Beaker Concepts a step ahead any other response times I have encountered to date—a real plus! In summary, the H5 performance, communication, and response time with Andrew Block was impressive enough for me to enter into sponsorship with Beaker Concepts as the official hydration system of Gemini Multisport. The H5 comes in multiple colors, is made of durable aluminum, moderately priced, and offers a variety of mounting holes for varying position setup. Included are several wide Velcro straps to hold spare tires or tubes, as well as a CO2 cartridge with an adaptor nozzle for it, and retails for about $50.
Beaker Concepts H5
83 g (main frame)
108 g (main frame + 2 brackets & 4 bolts)
7 g per bracket
112 g (main frame)
142 g (frame + 2 brackets + 4 bolts & 4 star washers)
9 g per bracket
124 g (all mounting hardware included)
Retail: Not in production
This is the system I had been using the last year or two. Durable, but borders on the heavy side, and is slightly harder to mount than others I have tried. This system is almost “overbuilt” in my opinion, but it did its job. I like that XLAB is coming out with new versions such as the “mini” and the carbon versions, it shows they aren’t resting on their laurels with companies like Beaker Concepts coming online. I have managed to eject several water bottles which I think could be due to the stiffness of the unit, but bending the bottle cages tighter around the bottles to hold them in only made it more difficult to get the bottles out when needing to drink. The bottles are slightly out of reach in the aero position, about 1-2 inches too out of reach. I liked the XNUT which is simple to mount, but adds quite a bit of weight. I would think XLAB could thread the unit’s frame for a couple CO2 cartridges, and a male threaded portion for the inflate adaptor. Strapping on a spare tubular tire seemed to interfere with taking a bottle in or out of the cages, and two spare tires seemed nearly impossible.
Jeff, one of my creative duathlon friends who tinkers in metals and woodworking, created several prototypes of rear hydration systems. He created a system that is not only lightweight, but offers more bottle cage angle positions than any other system on the market (even today—although it is nearly 10 years old), is competitive in weight with modern systems, made of durable machined aluminum, plus the bottles are close enough to the saddle to reach bottles in the aero position. In fact, I managed to use it one year at the Hawaii Ironman, with great success. There was plenty of space to fix a spare tire or tube with straps, and it just looks fast. The downside was, the mounting system consisted of too many spacer plates and individual parts, and took me nearly 1.5 hours to fix onto my saddle rails, as the mounting hardware was far too complicated and inaccessible. The other part of this was, the number of cage bolt mounting holes while many, were not drilled in a configuration that was foolproof as far as bottle ejection was concerned. Great idea, it just needed some tweaking and someone or group with the financial backing to put it into production and marketing mode. Until Beaker Concepts came along, this prototype was lighter than just about anything out there.
Minoura Double Cage Saddle Mount
Not weighed (sold it) *Claimed weight of 135 g
In a nutshell, the rack bounced a lot, and the rail clamp plate was quite thin and had bent whenever any degree of torque was used to keep the assembly from loosening. I used this assembly in Kona one year, and it almost completely fell apart 80 miles into the race. The bolts had jiggled loose, and ended up hanging by half a thread twist of the screw on one side of the mounting plate. Another problem with this rack was the many ejected bottles during training rides. Despite these issues, racking your bike on race day was a breeze as the upside down “L” shape could be used to hook onto the bike rack with the front tire facing away from the rack. This would likely be my last choice of saddle mounted cages I have tried, merely for the poor quality mounting clamp, loss of bottles, and flex in the carrier itself.
Profile Aqua Rack:
Untested. This particular rack looks almost identical to the Tri All 3 aqua rack I tried many years ago. I am not sure if they sold the patent to Profile or whatever happened to it. It was easy to mount, inexpensive, not the most durable, and at 230 g it seems pretty heavy. The Tri All 3 rack (no longer sold) fit on any round seat post, but wouldn’t be much use for today’s aero seat posts. If there were any sort of one screw simple system for a round posts, this was it. Although I did have problems attaching a spare tubular for races, with CO2.