Sunday, December 16, 2012

Product Review: Speedfil

The year was 1995.  It was early May, and I woke up excited to drive to Indianapolis to run the Indy 500 Mini-Marathon with my dad and a couple of his buddies.  The county track meet had been the night before, with me running the 3200m and a leg of the 4x800m relay.  Nowadays I rarely run two days in a row, let alone attempt to race 12 hours apart… but I was a young whippersnapper, and was excited to run my first half-marathon.  My mom’s birthday had also been the day before, and in my rush out the door I grabbed two big pieces of gooey, frosted leftover cake for breakfast.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  To make a long story short, I finished the race but ended up puking several times and spent the drive home writhing in pain in the back of a van.  Was it solely caused by my breakfast selection?  I don’t know.  But I do know that’s the day I discovered the importance of nutrition.  

In triathlon, nutrition is so important that it's often referred to as the “4th discipline.”  It can also be overwhelming.  It takes trial and error to figure out what works for you, which can be a daunting process (for what it's worth, in a future post I'll share what I do for each distance).  Part of your plan also involves how to carry your nutrition.  Should you load up like a pack mule, rely completely on the aid stations, stop off at McDonalds, or some combination?  If you plan on going long next year, the Speedfil may be a perfect solution for you.  I’m not going to get too techy, but here’s a run-down of the pros and cons from my experience.
speedfil mounted to down tube
  • Holds 40 oz of fluid, so you don't have to re-fill as often.  For example, I didn't like the drink being offered on the course at a recent half Ironman, so I loaded the Speedfil up with my own drink and didn't have to re-fill once.  Great for Ironman, half Ironman, and long training rides.
  • If you do need to re-fill, doing so is a snap.  Let's say you're carrying Gatorade, which is also on the course.  When you start running low, you grab a squeeze top Gatorade at the next aid station.  The top of the Speedfil is engineered so you don't have to unscrew it... you can simply jam the top of the Gatorade bottle into the Speedfil, squeeze it in, then toss the empty bottle in the trash, all in a few seconds and without stopping.
  • Despite this functionality, the Speedfil doesn't spill.  It's a one-way street... liquid goes in, but it doesn't splash out (from my experience unless you hit a huge pothole).
  • According to Inviscid Design wind tunnel studies, the Speedfil holds its own aerodynamically.
  • Its build encourages you to drink enough and stay hydrated.  With a tube similar to that of a Camelback, the bite valve rest near your aerobars.  It's malleable, so you can bend it out of the way, but when you need a drink it's right there for you.  No messing with bottles, no spilling, and no need to break your aero position to drink.

  • As with many other triathlon products, some sticker shock... think I paid $100 for it. 
  • You have to install a little adapter thing if your bike doesn't have bottle cage mounts on the down tube.  For example, my Felt only has a spot for a water bottle on the seat tube.  The adapter comes with a screw that has been jarred loose a couple times on me while riding on bumpy roads.  I still recommend it, but it's more convenient if your bike is down tube accessible.
the adapter thing if you only have bottle cage option on seat tube
  • For you weight weinies out there, it’s not the lightest system on the market.  In my mind the benefits of having more hydration on board out-weighs this, however (pun intended).
  • The last drops of your drink before refilling can be pretty lukewarm, especially on really hot days. 
  • Due to its shape, it's a bit of a pain to clean.

All in all, I highly recommend the Speedfil if you plan on riding long next season.  It’s worth the peace of mind knowing that you have a convenient method of getting much needed, non-birthday cake calories down on race day!

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