Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Check out my Wedgie!

During my spectating time at Ironman Louisville, I watched hundreds of bikes roll into T2.  Being only a couple weeks prior to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, I was keeping a keen eye on the long course, hot weather setups that I saw coming in.  It seemed like I was always trying to find a balance between hydration, a flat kit, and aerodynamics.

One item that I couldn't help but notice was a slick bottle carrier that mounted a water bottle horizontally near the bottom of the triangle, above the bottom bracket.  Squinting my less than 20/20 eyes, I made out a logo that read "Wedgie".  I made a mental note that I needed to check this out!

Once I returned home I was able to quickly find the product's website: After perusing the various pages and watching the installation video, I was ready to find out how to get my hands on one.  I sent a message using the contact form on the website to inquire if this nifty contraption would work on my Specialized Shiv with its enormous UCI illegal downtube.  The next day I received a response saying that it would fit with no alterations needed.  Knowing this, I asked if there was anyway that I could receive it in time to take it to Vegas.  To my surprise, not only could I get it, but I was also going to receive the full lineup of products via international overnight delivery from Ontario, Canada.  Wow... great customer service is so refreshing!!

Like Christmas!
Ok, lets fast forward to me getting a brown box at my door before 9 AM the following business day!  As I anxiously opened my package, I had a good idea of what to expect.  What I found blew my expectations out of the water.  The craftsmanship and design of these items is incredible.  I was aware that it was made of carbon fiber, which is optimal, but knowing that it was an invention and product of a small company run by a fellow triathlete, I wasn't expecting to find the attention to detail and finish that rivals the mega cycling accessory companies.  The photos on the website truly don't do these items justice.

I was sent the Wedgie, the On The Level bottle cage, a Wedgie labeled Purist water bottle, and Wedgie tire levers.  I will go through each item, the install process, and my impression of these items in training and racing.

This product couldn't have performed any better.  While there are valid claims that this item will actually make your bike faster, and this makes total sense, I won't be making that implication as this was not my intent when adding this accessory to my bike.  Personally, I have no data to back up such a claim, but I would even give up a couple seconds per 40K for this item purely for it's functionality. If getting free speed is your emphasis, here are the wind tunnel results for the Wedgie that show a 14.4-17.7 watt savings at 10 degrees yaw over a typical race setup.

Pictures of Tom Schopf, engineer of the Wedgie, in wind tunnel testing.
While riding, I never had a bottle budge in the cage, the Wedgie never rattled, and I basically even forgot that it was there.  This is exactly what you want in an accessory such as this.  I was able to fit my full flat kit in there and still have it close tight.  Prior to the race, I did wrap the items in a plastic bag to keep them from rattling against each other inside the Wedgie.  During a multi-hour race effort ride, the slightest rattle will drive a sane man mad.  This item allowed me to carry a bottle between my aero bars, a bottle behind my saddle, a bottle in the Wedgie cage, and more fluids in my Shiv's internal bladder.  This was perfect for my expectations of a super hot race through the desert.
The components that make up the Wedgie
The assembled Wedgie on my counter
The install pieces: 4 clear strips to protect the frame on the non-drive side, a two sided wedge shaped adhesive, a bobby pin, a spare rubber latch, and the origami folded instruction sheet.
The drive side installs with double sided automotive adhesive.  One piece on the seat tube and another on the down tube.
View of the drive side mounted.  Very clean.
Non-drive side installed with a bottle.  The non-drive side just clamps to the mounted drive side half.  This picture also shows the clear strip of film that protects the frame from potential scratches on the non-drive side.  Without a flash, it is basically invisible.
This is the view the wind has of the Wedgie... invisible.  By the way, there is a bottle in the cage.
Just in case you didn't believe me, here is a picture of the same setup taken in the previous picture, just from an angle.  You can see how this item could potentially make your bike faster from an aerodynamic perspective.
Here is my flat kit neatly packed into the Wedgie.
One thing that I cannot stress enough that makes this product a must have is the ability to firmly grip not only normal water bottles, but also bottles of varying sizes.  I'm specifically referring to the store bought Perform/Gatorade and water bottles that are handed out at bike course bottle exchanges.  Having one of these hand-up bottles rattling around in a traditional cage is another maddening experience and often leads to losing valuable hydration and nutrition.

On The Level mounted to an X Lab Torpedo mount.
Notice how close the "leafs" are without a bottle in it.

So by now everyone pretty much knows that the most aerodynamic location for a water bottle, in a time trial setup, is between the arms.  In some cases, riders have been shown to be faster having a bottle here than not.  The only question now is "What is the best way to keep my bottle here?"

The On The Level is a bottle cage specifically designed to be used between the arms of a rider in the aero position.  It is made for the sole purpose of holding a bottle horizontally.  It most definitely borrows the ingenious concept of the cage on the Wedgie and does it very successfully.  This cage could be zip tied to the aero bars just like any other cage or mounted to a plate, such as the X Lab Torpedo.  I went with the Torpedo mount, since this is what I currently had.  I just replaced my traditional bottle cage with the On The Level.

With a traditional water bottle installed.
The sides of the cage easily spread for a vise like grip.
Not only does the On The Level weigh less, it offers multiple benefits to a traditional bottle cage in this position.  The biggest being the ability to grip bottles of varying sizes, just like the Wedgie.  Now that I have used this item in multiple races, I have found that no matter what they handed me at the bike course water stops (or what I've stuck in it just for fun), the On The Level held it.  It also has the advantage of being able to slide the bottle in from either direction.  You may be asking; "Ryan, doesn't the bottle slide out?"  Good question... the answer is no.  The entirely carbon fiber cage is basically two, one millimeter thick, leaf springs that grip the bottle with incredible precision using surface tension.  I never had a bottle flinch between my arms.  This is not something I can say with the traditional cage I was using before.  (I fully ejected a BTA bottle earlier this year in San Juan which I had to stop for as it had all my nutrition in it)  In my case, I also have my Garmin Edge 510 mounted between my arms nearer to my shifters.  This means that I can have different length bottles between my arms without disrupting this setup.  Obviously a longer bottle just goes further toward my elbows... no big deal.

The Purist bottles just happen to be my favorite as they don't leak and are easy to open and close with my mouth.  This particular Purist bottle also has a Wedgie logo on it - extra cool :)

Wedgie Tire Levers

They aren't anything mind blowing, but they do fit very nicely in the Wedgie.  They are much more flat than other levers that I have and feel solid.  Knock on wood, I haven't had to use them yet so I can't comment on their functionality, but I have faith that they would work well in a roadside situation.

So that was everything in my early morning delivery.  I honestly wish that I could could come up with some sort of criticism for these products to make this review seem less endorsed, but I really can't.  If there was one thing, it is the semi permanent nature that the Wedgie is installed.  The drive-side half is mounted using two sided automotive adhesive tape.  It will uninstall without a mark, but you can't just slap it back on without replacing the tape.  Not a big deal and I have no idea of how to do it better.  (Edit:  I have become aware of some riders using velcro to install the drive-side half of the Wedgie.  This allows it to be easily uninstalled and reattached depending on needs.  Since the remainder of my events for this year are long course, I will leave mine the way it is.  For next year when I'm mixing it up with some short course, where I typically won't carry a flat kit or have a need for more than my between-the-arms bottle, I may look into this option.)

Ready to rock in Vegas!
All in all, these products have seriously impressed me in their quality and function.  If you're looking to potentially make your ride more aerodynamic, carry a flat kit, and a horizontal bottle, the Wedgie is a no-brainer.  As far as the On The Level cage goes, it is hands down the best between-the-arms cage I'm aware of.

Please get in touch with any questions you might have about these products!

Go fast!

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