Showers Pass VelEau hydration system  £60.00

6/10

Interesting idea, well executed, but possibly a solution in search of a problem

Weight 427g   Contact  www.showerspass.co.uk

by Nick Hodges   July 19, 2014  

Speedfils, Camelbaks, even the humble bottle – there are plenty of ways to take some water with you on your ride. West coast US cycling accessories and clothing company Showers Pass have their own suggestion to add into the mix – the VelEau 42. (Get it? Velo? But with L'eau in it! Tough crowd.)

With a capacity of about 1.2 litres, this is a shaped plastic bottle mounted behind the seat, with a tube and bite valve at the handle-bar end. The bottle lid is a large screw-cap, not dissimilar to a regular waterbottle lid. Part of the bottle assembly is a tough fabric casing that also provides a small zipped saddlebag pouch. The bottle is shaped like a large saddlebag, with the tubing at the lowest point, close to the seat post.

The tubing is intended to be run along the top-tube, and is connected to the frame with three magnetic clips. Two of these are connected with thin nylon cord to a spring that snaps the tube into place. The third is on a mid-line magnet that fixes to the top-tube via a mount held in place with O-rings. The idea is that you pull the tube to your mouth to drink and then it returns to whatever position you prefer when not using it.

In practice, this works okay; with a little tinkering the magnetic clips do their job smoothly enough. I found that the mid-line magnet wasn't all that secure, though, and the elastic O-ring that held it to the frame made an exit mid-ride not long after I'd attached it. Unfortunately the best place for it in relation to the length of the top-tube is close to where your knees are and so likely to get knocked about. The system still worked pretty well without it, though.

The fabric casing is robust and the saddlebag pouch is just about big enough for a tube. Or a repair kit/tools, but not both, unfortunately. There are no loops for attaching a light or mini-pump, which is a bit of a shame given the size of the bottle area means that there isn't much seat post, or saddle rail, available for a rear light.

Showers Pass suggest this design is suitable for all riders and cycling types – mountain bikers, leisure, road and time-trial are all suggested in the literature. Of these, I could see it being most useful for time-trialling, because it is easy to get the tube at a consistent position in front of your mouth while riding the aerobars.

The reality is that this feels like a complex solution to what is quite often an easy 'problem' to solve. For me, having odd-shaped bottles and tubing to maintain isn't going to win out over swilling a water bottle out (but then I never really got Camelbaks either, and I know plenty that swear by them). It could really work for time-trialling, but only longer distances – who would want to lug this over a 10? Conceivably this might work for longer triathlons, but then refilling would be a pain compared to a Speedfil or between-the-aerobars unit on a longer distance event.

It is an interesting idea, and executed pretty well, but I'm struggling to imagine many cyclists for whom would be the best way to carry water. This unit was partially inspired for mountain-bikers – and I'm not one. I can't imagine swapping from a back-mounted system for this as it means taking a hand off the bars, but there may be a pay-off to this that I don't appreciate. Touring cyclists might go for it, I suppose, but it's not like they're poorly-served by bottles.

I can't imagine this making to many road bikes. Practically it might work, but it just isn't a 'road' solution. The setup behind the seat is pretty chunky and all that tubing and clips would spoil many riders' view of what their ride should look like.

Verdict

Interesting idea that is well executed, but possibly a solution in search of a problem

road.cc test report

Make and model: Showers Pass VelEau Bicycle Mounted Hydration

Size tested: 1.2 litres, black

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Seems to be aimed at everyone according to Showers Pass - they identify it as a practical solution for leisure riders, mountain bikers, time trialing, tri and road cycling. Of these, the ones that I can imagine it working with are short TT and tri's, leisure riders and maybe the odd mountain biker. I'm not sure it has the right pitch to a roadie.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Neat sprung cords with magnetic locks to keep the tubing in place. The two of them - at the headtube and seat-pin - work pretty well in returning the tube to a neutral position after use.

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
7/10

The mid-tube clip (simple magnet on the water feed tube, with matching piece O-ring fixed to the bike top-tube) didn't last long for me. The rest of the assembly is solid, particularly the ratchet fixing to the bike seat rails.

Rate the product for performance:
 
8/10

Simple to use and behaves much exactly as intended (like the best things with bikes - once set up and fettled). It works particularly well on a turbo-trainer.

Rate the product for durability:
 
7/10

Apart from the loss of one clip it survived regular rides well.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
6/10

There's quite a lot to the bottle part with fixings and clips. I don't think the weight is objectionable.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
7/10

Using it is straightforward, and in theory should be more comfortable and safer than taking bottles from cages.

Rate the product for value:
 
7/10

£60 isn't cheap compared to a bottle/cage combination, but relative to similar 'systems' (speedfil, etc) it is competitive.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

It generally performs well once set up to work the way that you want it to (where the tube-end is at the handle-bars). It consistently returns to the set-up position when you aren't using it, although occasionally needs a little nudge. When used in a time trial position this improves because it generally stays in one location close to the rider's mouth.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

When riding TT or tri position it was easy to use.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Having handily saved me the hassle of using a water bottle I then needed to carry a bottle to take all the usual paraphernalia of tubes, multi-tool, patch kits (etc) that were previously in the saddle bag it replaced. There is something reliably low-tech about a bottle.

Did you enjoy using the product? Sort of. I wanted to like it more than I did.

Would you consider buying the product? No.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Probably not.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

It's a well executed solution to a problem that many will feel is already solved.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 182cm  Weight: 69kg

I usually ride: Specialized Allez Sport 2008  My best bike is: Moda Tempo 2010

I've been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, Triathlon

 

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

This looks interesting. I need a lot of water. Back mounted packs seem a less than appealing idea to me because a) they seem un-aerodynamic, b) they'd trap sweat on my back and stop it evaporating, and make me uncomfortable.

Not sure what other options there are for long/hot rides. Bottle holder belts? Camelbaks hanging off the chest, like some Pros had at one point? ??

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
19th July 2014 - 14:55

30 Likes

Definitely one for the tri-boys and girls I reckon.

I've got two perfectly good cages that'll each hold a 750ml bidon quite happily. This seems like more hassle for a "capacity of [only] 1.2 litres".

posted by ped [172 posts]
19th July 2014 - 15:54

26 Likes

When I were a lad I had an old fashioned handlebar mounted wire bottle cage with a straw stuffed in the top of the bottle. Did the same as this, and tidier too. Wink

andybwhite's picture

posted by andybwhite [212 posts]
19th July 2014 - 17:46

29 Likes

Straws? Luxury

When I were a lad, wor dad used to p1ss into potholes so we could drink from the puddle when we were thirsty

posted by gazza_d [258 posts]
19th July 2014 - 18:15

41 Likes

I think this product is incomplete. What it *really* needs is another bag, perhaps fitted to the seat-tube, with a plastic tube that then attaches to the penis for active, on-ride urination. Then it would be perfect.

posted by Joeinpoole [303 posts]
19th July 2014 - 18:36

36 Likes

Quote:
Touring cyclists might go for it, I suppose, but it's not like they're poorly-served by bottles.
Most cyclists are not poorly-served by bottles!

posted by truffy [484 posts]
19th July 2014 - 18:50

23 Likes

Ridiculous. It's too complicated and all the twiddly bits look like they'd last about 5 minutes banging down off the Quantocks (or a country lane anywhere in Somerset)...

markfireblade's picture

posted by markfireblade [23 posts]
19th July 2014 - 19:47

24 Likes

So, if bottles are the way forward. What are the options for carrying more than the 2 the frame cage mounts will let you bring?

There are the behind-the-saddle ones popular with tri-athletes. What else?

posted by Paul J [668 posts]
19th July 2014 - 22:45

20 Likes

Other potential bottle positions (more for the tourer than the athlete, mind) are below the downtube and one or two mounted to the bars.

Thinking a bit more creatively, if you really needed the extra bottles, you could possibly attach a cage to the top of the top tube as well, assuming it had a good seal. In total I think you could probably fit:

  • 2 inside the triangle
  • 1 below the triangle
  • 2 behind the seat on a double carrier
  • 2 on the bars
  • 1 above the triangle
  • amounting to 6L or so of drink, which would hopefully be enough for a day's touring. And almost an entire race carbon bike extra in weight...

    posted by hexapodium [5 posts]
    19th July 2014 - 22:57

    20 Likes

    posted by Mathelo [15 posts]
    20th July 2014 - 12:43

    12 Likes

    and there's always this.... Laughing
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyVRYZ_spUo

    andybwhite's picture

    posted by andybwhite [212 posts]
    20th July 2014 - 16:41

    15 Likes

    Kool! Wink

    posted by Mathelo [15 posts]
    20th July 2014 - 17:21

    17 Likes

    Gotta say that it looks pretty crap and not well thought through. Who wants cables, clips, pipes etc all ower their bike for an extra litre and a bit of water.

    posted by pistol13 [7 posts]
    21st July 2014 - 9:21

    13 Likes

    posted by BigDummy [298 posts]
    21st July 2014 - 10:40

    12 Likes

    Potholes? You were lucky. We dreamed of having potholes. We used to lap t'urine with us tongues as it trickled down t'gutter....

    posted by nortonpdj [25 posts]
    21st July 2014 - 16:25

    12 Likes

    I had handlebar bottle cages on my first bike, a Carlton Catalina, in 1962. Two aluminium pint bottles with drilled cork bungs and straws. Did the job quite well as I recall.

    We used to crack nuts without sledgehammers, too.

    Grizzerly

    posted by Grizzerly [137 posts]
    25th July 2014 - 7:36

    11 Likes

    If you're so thirsty you would consider this and not a hydration pack, get a fork with bottle cage mounts. Add those to two in the triangle, two more on the bars, and two butt rockets, and you're ready to fill a swimming pool. http://www.diddephoto.com/Nature/Fargo/20101016Fargo055/1050718252_yA7PQ...

    pedalpowerDC's picture

    posted by pedalpowerDC [248 posts]
    25th July 2014 - 17:43

    11 Likes

    Might be a useful for recumbent riders, be pricy just to buy on the off chance it would fit though, or I would get one for my Fujin sl .

    posted by robgeje [5 posts]
    28th July 2014 - 12:34

    10 Likes

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