The Zefal Z2O Pro 80 bottle has a capacity of 800ml and is supposedly designed with professional riders in mind. Personally, I would still like to see a few further refinements, but it's certainly well conceived and generally pleasant to use.
Available in three shades – black, white or translucent (best for gauging reserves at a glance, albeit allowing competitors to do the same), it's made from polypropylene, a type 5 plastic commonly used in the food industry that doesn't leach potentially nasty chemicals into foodstuffs and, ultimately, us.
Polypropylene is also very rugged and solvent resistant, so another obvious choice for bottles. Talking of which, ours has a satin texture that is tactile and, moreover, easier to grip than glossy types without recourse to dimpling or gel bands.
The long, subtle taper is relatively unusual but I'm pleased to report it seems a genuinely universal fit across my eclectic range of cages: perfect tenure, yet effortless intentional release, irrespective of pattern and material.
The leak-proof locking cap system ensures it can also be carried horizontally, say in a large rear 'poacher's' pocket, without the contents pooling out. (There's also a smaller (600ml) version, which fits better in traditional jersey pockets.)
The cap opens and shuts with a simple twist. Being picky, the icons were difficult to spot, though it became intuitive after a few dry runs. There's no spring, or similarly small parts to fail or lose, and it also prevents that sticky bottle, cage and frame tube combo when filled with carbonated/energy drinks.
The soft valve spout is much nicer to use (not to mention gentler on the veneers) than traditional pop-up designs, and the flow is regulated by gently squeezing the bottle. Although not as ergonomic as the Relaj Shape bottle that I tested last year, the flow rate is pretty seamless held at a 25/30-degree angle, which is less obstructive to your eyeline when riding compared with bog standard types.
A flip-up dome would extend the appeal to cyclo-cross and mountain bike use, as it would defend the valve tip against contamination. It's a moot point on audax and winter trainers with full length mudguards perhaps, but even braving the lanes without guards didn't engulf the top or spout in anything unsavoury. Talking of hygiene, the broad top and spout ensure effortless brushing if you didn't want to pop it in the dishwasher.
Well-designed, high-quality bottle but a protective dome cap seems a missed opportunity
road.cc test report
Make and model: Zefal Z2O Pro 80 Bottle
Size tested: 800ml
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?
Zefal says: "Our Z2O Pro bottle is a summary of our experience in hydration. It has been studied in minute details to offer the best bottle to the riders. Its Lock-Cap System is an on/off closure for easy transport; the soft push gives a pleasant mouth feel. The quick opening valve is used to control the liquid consumed on a regular basis and without overflow. Available in 3 colours."
Works very well.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Height: 240 mm
Colors: White (ref. 144A) / Black (ref. 144B) / Translucent (ref.144C)
Simple, well engineered construction.
Easy to grasp, although valve system requires a few practice runs before becoming intuitive.
Not cheap but comparable with similar designs.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Overall, the Z2O is a well conceived bottle that accommodates most cages perfectly and is both easy and pleasant to use. Small point perhaps, but I did miss a protective dome on some mucky rides – especially sans mudguards.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid build, good quality materials that also ensure drinks taste authentic.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Protective cover/dome seems a missed opportunity.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Quite possibly.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? For general road duties, yes.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough stuff tourer based around 4130 Univega mountain bike frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)