Q. Is it worth investing in an aero drinks bottle for my bike, and why, and are there any other 'quick wins' when trying to reduce drag?
A. Aero bottles have become increasingly popular as aerodynamics has become of greater importance to triathletes. Whether you need one (or any other drinking system) should be based on the length of your race and the type of courses you're on.
Your drinks can be mounted behind the seat, on the handlebars or on the frame, and there is still no consensus as to which is the best in terms of aerodynamics. This is because the aerodynamic drag is the relationship between all the components of a bicycle and the rider.
Every second counts
When it comes to bottles mounted to the frame, it is worth mentioning that the airflow has to first pass the wheel, fork, front brake and frame. By the time it reaches the bottle, it may not give the benefit its looks suggest. So, is an aero bottle worth its price tag? Probably not, but value for money doesn't always apply when every second counts.
The big point, though, is whatever drinks system and position you use, keep drinking. Any aerodynamic gains will be pointless if you suffer any dehydration.
When it comes to other equipment that will improve aerodynamics, most triathletes look to their helmet, wheels and clothing choices. However, since 80-85 per cent of the total drag of a bicycle in motion is the rider, you should probably first look at yourself.
Many triathletes are quick to buy the latest bike but if they have an inefficient riding position (both functionally or aerodynamically) they won't become much faster. You should invest in yourself - a good bike fit or trip to the wind tunnel will probably give you a greater boost on the bike than any piece of kit .
Bryce Dyer is Senior Lecturer in Product Design at Bournemouth University's School of Design, Engineering and Computing, and is a member of the Design Management Institute. He is conducting research into sports technology used by elite athletes. He is a passionate cyclist and triathlete and has competed internationally in his age group in events ranging from a 1K track pursuit to an Ironman.