The humble water bottle, or bidon is an indispensable accessory which ensure you ‘go the distance’ by keeping you hydrated. They are so important that I ride with two bottles, one with pure water and one with electrolytes . I get my from bars rather than rely on gels because the bars provide a more sustained release of energy rather than short burst of energy you get from gels. The new Alpha Bottle provides a new solution.
The Australian designed water bottle called the Alpha Bottle is seeking to make hydration and energy consumption for cyclists easier to regulate – particularly for competitive cyclists and triathletes who can now adjust energy or electrolyte consumption on the fly. The Alpha Bottle lets you choose between pure water and your ‘mixed’ solution by turning a dial so your humble water bottle can be a complete replacement for sticky gels and will let you control the concentration.
These days, a lot of innovative and new products head to the Kickstarter crowd funding platform. Not only can crowd funding provided the necessary capital to begin production, it confirms consumer interest. The Alpha Bottle is launching on Kickstarter but is a already one step ahead. I found out about the product from a riding buddy who invested in the concept and is a partner of Gemini Hydration along with Lance Duke, the inventor.
Industrial Designer, Lance Duke shares more details about the Alpha Bottle in the following interview with Christopher Jones of Bicycles Network Australia.
Christopher Jones: Most cyclists who have ridden for a while will agree that hydration and electrolytes are important, was the solution for a ‘dual container’ bidon obvious or was it a solution that was developed over time?
Lance Duke: My son was doing triathlon, just the shorter distances to start with, but you spend a lot of time watching others and how they do things, all that time watching triathletes taping gels to their bikes at triathlons and then tearing them off and trying to consume the whole thing at once with only a mouth full of water to wash it down. When my son started doing longer distances he joined the regulars doing the same thing and got the same results, sticky hands, bars, leaking packets in his pocket and of course stomach upsets which ruined his races.
I thought there had to be a better way of doing this and as an Industrial designer I started to do some research and thinking of ways to solve this. It wasn’t a quick process and took three years of development and dozens of ideas to get to the finished product concept. There are so many problems that had to be thought through, it was a long process. I wanted the bottle to be a complete solution, not just for gels, so it was designed to take gels, electrolyte powders, even fruit for flavoured water or you can use it as a plain water bottle. I wasn’t trying to re-invent the wheel, I just wanted to make it a better, more efficient wheel.
Christopher Jones: The Alpha Bottle is not just two different compartments, can you describe how the ‘dispenser’ works? What can be added… gels… electrolyte tabs… and how it is regulated or controlled to provide the right mixture for the rider?
Lance Duke: The pod is made of two main parts, the pod and the lid, both these parts have a one way valve which allows water to enter at the bottom, pass thru the pod and exit at the top where it continues thru to the mouth piece for consumption. The pod has a series of vanes which help to spin the incoming water mixing it with the contents of the pod. If the pod is loaded with electrolytes the powder is saturated becoming a hypertonic solution (Hyper Concentrated) this allows the user to carry a larger amount of electrolyte but in a more user friendly way. You simply turn the dial to mixed and suck the water thru and into the mouth piece, this will give you a slightly diluted mix of water and hypertonic solution. This allows the user to get the electrolytes needed and then switch back to plain water as needed.
Christopher Jones: Cyclists and triathletes riding longer distances often carry multiple drinks, does the two-in-one format mean that the Alpha Bottle is suited for shorter distances?
Lance Duke: The Gemini Alpha bottle is about hydration options, the average rider needs to consume between 600-1000mls of water per hour depending on the level of exertion and environmental conditions. Athletes need both electrolytes and carbohydrates for peak performance, so the athlete can carry two bottles, one with gel in the pod and one with electrolytes in the pod, this then gives the user 1.5ltrs of water and with the larger pod enough supplements for two good hours of performance. The main idea is to give the athlete the ability to customise his or her hydration.
We all know gels shouldn’t be taken all at once and even the manufacturers recommend that they are consumed with up to 300mls of water, this in itself is a difficult thing to do at the best of times, the best way is to take a small amount of gel and water about every 10mins, this allows your stomach to process the solution far more efficiently as the solution is closer to a isotonic solution and is readily absorbed far quicker.
Christopher Jones: For ease of use, triathletes with a bar mounted water bottle often use drinking tubes. Is the Alpha Bottle compatible (or can it be converted)?
Lance Duke: This is in the pipe-line and will be by far the most user friendly aero hydration system available, with bottles able to be swapped out on the go, giving both water and supplements in one, not taping gels to the bike then trying to open and consume them on the go or carrying full bottles of electrolytes when only half is needed.
The Alpha Bottle has just launched on kickstarter and the crowd funding campaign runs until July 25 in which the team are seeking to raise $20,000. The cost of a single Alpha Bottle during the kickstarter campaign is $41 and different pledge levels available for example, the first 50 early-birds get the Alpha Bottle for $31.