Review: XLAB Storage Systems
images by Nick Salazar
Dec 9, 2014
XLAB may be the most prolific seller of aftermarket hydration and storage solutions, along with competitor Profile Design. Although they originally focused on saddle-mounted hydration systems, the company has expanded to BTA hydration systems, top tube storage, and more. One of their products, the Gorilla XT bottle cage, is our go-to pick for use everywhere on the bike, but particularly for saddle-mounted hydration. It's simply the best cage there is in terms of bottle retention and anti-launch properties. Today we take a look at several of XLAB's current lineup of products, and what they have to offer for triathletes. Enjoy!
Mini Cage Pod, Mezzo Cage Pod
The Mini Cage Pod and Mezzo Cage Pod are XLAB's refinement on the DIY solution of storing a flat kit in a bottle cage. Each has a solid lid rather than a standard spout. They also each come with a microfleece bag to help keep contents from rattling. I really like these as a storage solution, provided you don't need to use a saddle-mounted cage for hydration (for aerodynamic reasons, I prefer a single bottle rather than two behind the saddle).
Stealth Pocket 300 and 500
The Stealth Pocket 300 and 500 offer direct-mount top-tube storage options, holding 5-6 gels, or similarly-sized products. The 500 has a double-zip closure, and the 300 has a single-zip. Compared to the TorHans AeroBento, these options seem slightly less sleek, but that might be my personal preference for the rigid plastic of the TorHans versus the soft fabric of the XLAB parts. And the zip closure on the XLAB storage makes it more secure, if slightly less convenient than an always-open rubber flap of the TorHans.
The Delta Sonic is a very specific cage-mount option for bikes that use the Ritchey 10mm hole standard. This includes bikes like the Scott Plasma 5, Cervelo's new P-series bikes, the Kestrel 4000, and others. It's a very simple solution, just an aluminum rod that slides into your seatpost head and holds in place with a single bolt, then provides two M5 bosses for mounting a bottle cage behind the saddle. The Delta Sonic includes XLAB's awesome Gorilla XT cage, which is simply THE BEST cage out there for preventing the launch of saddle-mounted bottles. In fact, I like to use Gorilla XT cages in the BTA position as well. XLAB recommends their own 'Torpedo' cage for BTA use since it doesn't grip quite as tightly, but that's precisely why I prefer the Gorilla XT there. Back to the Delta Sonic - the tricky bit with it is that there are some very real adjustment limitations based on your saddle and position. For example, when I have a Dash Tri.7 mounted, you can see that the cage sits quite a bit behind the saddle. When I have an Adamo Attack mounted in the same position, I can't even install the Delta Sonic, because it isn't long enough to clear the back of the saddle and still mount to the seatpost. XLAB makes two lengths of the Delta Sonic for this reason, and I could have used the long version with the Adamo. In some cases, the Delta Sonic will be an excellent solution, but in most cases I'll probably stick with a DIY zip-tie solution.