— Roy M. Wallack
Rocket Science Sports Rocket Bottle: Cylindrical bottle with a tapered bottom, rounded top and hundreds of six-sided, golf-ball-like dimples embedded in the surface, said to reduce wind drag by 16% over that of a smooth-surfaced bottle.
Likes: Inexpensive compared with other aero bottles, and usable with a standard bottle cage. The dimples work by "adding more kinetic energy to the airflow" when it passes over the bottle, according to the company, ultimately reducing air turbulence/drag. The dimpled surface feels more secure in your hand than a normal bottle too. Weight: 3.5 ounces (a half-ounce more than a standard 20-ounce bottle).
Dislikes: At 17 ounces, it's the smallest bottle tested (note: It's advertised as 20 ounces).
Price: $11.99. (512) 782-4448.www.rocketsciencesports.com
Xlab Aero TT: Narrow, 20-ounce fin-shaped bottle held to the frame by a custom carbon-fiber bracket. Claims wind-drag reduction of 25%.
Likes: A psychological boost: It looks fast — so you feel fast. Also, its narrow, wind-cheating profile of 1.75 inches is very easy to grasp. The carbon bracket works well, pinching cutouts on each side of the bottle. Weight: Bottle is 4 ounces, and carbon bracket 1.2 ounces, making total weight lighter than a standard bottle/cage setup.
Dislikes: The price will stop you momentarily.
Price: $64.95 for cage and bottle; spare bottle $12.95. (760) 735-3215; http://www.xlab-usa.com
Humongous H20 hauler
Inviscid Design Speedfil: 40-ounce, triangular-shaped, foot-long reservoir with handlebar-mounted suck-hose that allows for hands-free drinking in the aerobar riding position.
Likes: It keeps you more aero, safer and better-hydrated than normal.
Whereas reaching for and raising a standard bottle causes huge aerodynamic and rhythm disruptions, you custom-position Speedfil's drinking tube near your mouth, allowing hydration while in an uninterrupted, two-handed aero position. Because of this, you drink more often. The neoprene-covered tube has a soft bite-valve that keeps fluid in the drink-ready position, eliminating time lag and gastric air bubbles. The large capacity eliminates a need for a second bottle and will also work well for long-distance bike tourists and mountain bikers. Triathletes will love its ability to refill on the fly; just dump an open bottle of fluid into the gasket-covered opening and drain it; an internal backsplash device keeps you clean. It's pictured here with an optional "Speed sock" neoprene jacket that keeps fluids cold ($25).
Dislikes: Expensive and heavy (15 ounces), although comparable with the popular behind-the-seat bottle carriers (which cause lots of air drag).
The weight is similar to that of any two-bottle setup.
Price: $99.95. (858) 605-6654; http://www.speedfil.com.
Clean Bottle: Not an aero bottle, per se, despite tapered ends, but it is the first water bottle with a screw-off bottom, allowing the thorough cleaning that is difficult with standard bottles.
Likes: Keeps your fluids free of the stinky, moldy funk most cyclists live with. Eliminates having to throw away old bottles and buy new ones. Fits in a standard bottle cage. See-through plastic. Weight: 4.5 ounces. Capacity: 22 fluid ounces (advertised as 24).
Dislikes: No speed advantage, unless you count sick days off the bike due to drinking out of a moldy bottle.
Price: $10. (650) 281-7681; http://www.cleanbottle.com
Wallack is the author of "Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100." email@example.com