Review: Specialized Fuel Cell, Reserve Rack, Air Tool

 Nov 4, 2014 article & images by Andrew Strauss

Specialized's Reserve Rack and inflation accessories

The Specialized Reserve Rack is a mounting system that allows one to carry a single saddle bottle as well as some inflation accessories. The product comes with three pieces: a mount that attaches to your saddle rails, a wing that will carry inflation accessories, and an optional Rib Cage.

A single bottle behind your seat is a decent way to carry hydration in terms of aerodynamics. It may not be as good as an integrated solution or a BTA bottle, but it is superior to a round bottle on the down tube or seat tube. In our hydration guide, we mentioned that it is possible to mount a saddle bottle using zip ties, but if you prefer a non-DIY attachment method, than the reserve rack is worth considering.

Let's start by discussing the optional bottle cage. I tested the Reserve Rack with the included Rib Cage, two no-name cheap cages, as well as my favorite cage, the XLAB Gorilla XT. I found it easier to get my bottles in and out of the Gorilla XT compared to the Rib Cage, but that might just be because I am used to the Gorilla XT. In terms of bottle launching, I found that the Rib Cage launched my bottles 1-2 times every ride. The cheap no-name cages launched more than the Rib Cage, and the Gorilla XT did not launch at all. The Rib Cage held quite well when the bottles were full, but as soon as they were about 1/2 empty, the launch rate went up significantly. This probably has to do with the bottle being easier to compress due to the lack of fluid. I don't think I would recommend the Rib Cage just because of how much more prone it is to launching bottles. That is not something I want to worry about during a race or even a training ride.

Next up is the Wing that holds inflations accessories. It sits sandwiched between the cage and the mount. On one side of the wing, you can hold a pump, and on the other side, you can hold a can of Pit Stop or two CO2 cartridges. The CO2 cartridges screw onto an included adapter which helps hold everything tightly on the wing.

I like the concept of putting inflation accessories back here next to a bottle, but question the logic of the combos that can be carried with this wing. I don't know of many triathletes that carry multiple CO2 cartridges AND a pump. Nor do I know of many triathletes that carry Pit Stop and a pump. These seem like odd combos to me, but may suit some of you. I prefer to simply carry one or two CO2 cartridges along with a small lightweight inflator head (like the Silca EOLO III), and thus feel like the wing isn't quite suited to my needs.

Lastly, we have the mount. This is designed to be used on a saddle that doesn't have the ability to directly mount a bottle. The mount attaches directly to the saddle rails. You have to have a bit of room at the back of your saddle rails, so if your saddle is completely slammed forward, it might be a tough fit. It will also be tough if your saddle rails have a non-standard shape. I tried it with a few saddles I had lying around, and didn't have any issues.

If you have a saddle that has a bottle mount already (like the Specialized Sitero or Dash's TT9), the mount is completely unnecessary. You would be better off just buying the wing separately, along with the cage of your choice.

There are more and more rear hydration options nowadays, and the Reserve Rack doesn't stand out to me as anything special. I quickly swapped the included cage for one that performed better. I don't like the inflation combinations that Specialized has come up with. That leaves the mount. Many new bikes have mounting options on the seat post that make adding a saddle hydration system easy and clean (Cervelo, Quintana Roo, Scott, Kestrel, Fuji, etc). There are also a number of saddles which include bottle mounting options on the saddle itself (Specialized Sitero, Dash TT9, etc). The Reserve Rack's mount may be useful if you don't have another option on your bike, but even then, there are other products worth considering as well that offer more features and adjustment options. XLAB, Profile Design, Speedfil, and others make similar products, several of which I prefer to the Reserve Rack. And I would also consider zip ties to be a perfectly acceptable way of mounting a cage to your saddle. Several pro triathletes use zip ties without issue, and I wouldn't hesitate to do that if need.

Pros
  • Allows for carrying inflation accessories
  • Works on seat posts / saddles without bottle mounting options
 
Cons
  • Included cage not as good as other cages
  • Inflation combinations not ideal for most people
  • Mount not as easy / clean as integrated saddle or seat post options

Not my favorite rear hydration system. Inflation combinations are not ideal. Included cage not as good as others.
Rating: 2.0


Tags » hydration,  nutrition,  shiv,  specialized,  tools

Fuel Cell 

The Specialized Fuel Cell is a Shiv specific storage system designed to mate perfectly to the frame and not add any frontal area to the bike. Specialized goes so far as to say that its design reduces drag.

  • Specialized's Fuel Cell attached to my Shiv.
  • Specialized's Fuel Cell attached to my Shiv.
  • Specialized's Fuel Cell attached to my Shiv.
  • Gels can be stored in the rubber top cap of the Fuel Cell.  They can be easily accessed while riding via a slit in the top of the rubber cap.
  • Gels can be stored in the rubber top cap of the Fuel Cell.  They can be easily accessed while riding via a slit in the top of the rubber cap.
  • Gels can be stored in the rubber top cap of the Fuel Cell.  They can be easily accessed while riding via a slit in the top of the rubber cap.
  • The rubber top cap is held in place via a friction fit.  It pulls off to allow access to the spare parts in the compartment below.
  • There is a tab on the top of the main compartment that is used to release the Fuel Cell.  The main compartment can then be removed to make loading easier.
  • There is a tab on the top of the main compartment that is used to release the Fuel Cell.  The main compartment can then be removed to make loading easier.
  • There is a tab on the top of the main compartment that is used to release the Fuel Cell.  The main compartment can then be removed to make loading easier.
  • The Fuel Cell's mount attaches to the bottle bosses on the seat tube.
  • The rubber top cap is held in place via a friction fit.  It pulls off to allow access to the spare parts in the compartment below.
  • The Fuel Cell and my old saddle bag.  The saddle bag looks much smaller, but it holds a lot more due to its increased width.
  • The Fuel Cell and my old saddle bag.  The saddle bag looks much smaller, but it holds a lot more due to its increased width.
  • The Fuel Cell and my old saddle bag.  The saddle bag looks much smaller, but it holds a lot more due to its increased width.
  • These are the items I normally carry in my flat kit: 2 tire levers, 2 CO2 Cartridges, a spare tube, a compact inflater head, a spare master link, and a small multi-tool.  The tube has not been unpacked or tested.  After filling it up and testing it, you wouldn't be able to get enough air out to make it this compact ever again.  But even with the tube in this state, these items will not fit in the Fuel Cell.
  • After losing the rubber top cap, I used electrical tape to cover the top of my Fuel Cell.  Specialized was friendly and replaced the top cap free of charge, but I am pretty sure that it will get lost again.  The top cap is held in place via a friction fit.  If the items in the Fuel Cell shift around on a bumpy road, they could push up on the cap and cause it to come off.

Reserve Rack 

The Specialized Reserve Rack is a mounting system that allows one to carry a single saddle bottle as well as some inflation accessories. The product comes with three pieces: a mount that attaches to your saddle rails, a wing that will carry inflation accessories, and an optional Rib Cage.

  • Specialized's Reserve Rack can hold 2 CO2 cartridges on one side and a pump on the other side.  The CO2 cartridges thread onto a coupler that comes with the Reserve Rack.  Elastic bands hold the CO2 coupler and pump to the Reserve Rack.
  • Specialized's Reserve Rack can hold 2 CO2 cartridges on one side and a pump on the other side.  The CO2 cartridges thread onto a coupler that comes with the Reserve Rack.  Elastic bands hold the CO2 coupler and pump to the Reserve Rack.
  • Specialized's Reserve Rack can hold 2 CO2 cartridges on one side and a pump on the other side.  The CO2 cartridges thread onto a coupler that comes with the Reserve Rack.  Elastic bands hold the CO2 coupler and pump to the Reserve Rack.
  • The mount that comes with the Reserve Rack clamps onto your saddle's rails.  There is no angle adjustment on the clamp.  In order to use the clamp, your saddle needs to have standard rails, and enough room to get the clamp in.
  • The mount that comes with the Reserve Rack clamps onto your saddle's rails.  There is no angle adjustment on the clamp.  In order to use the clamp, your saddle needs to have standard rails, and enough room to get the clamp in.
  • The mount that comes with the Reserve Rack clamps onto your saddle's rails.  There is no angle adjustment on the clamp.  In order to use the clamp, your saddle needs to have standard rails, and enough room to get the clamp in.
  • This is the wing that holds inflation accessories.  The wing gets sandwiched between the mount, and the bottle cage.  The bolts for the bottle cage go through the holes on the wing.  In this photo, 2 CO2 cartridges have been threaded onto a coupler that comes with the Reserve Rack.  If you prefer to carry Pit Stop instead of CO2, you may store it where the CO2 coupler is attached in this photo.  This means that your choices are 2 CO2 cartridges + pump, or Pit Stop + pump.  Neither of these combinations suits my personal needs, but you may find that these combos suit you.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.  I have added a camelbak Podium Chill bottle.
  • View from the back with a bottle attached.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.  I have added a camelbak Podium Chill bottle.
  • In this photo, the wing and cage are attached directly to the Sitero's bottle mount.  This way you don't need the mount that comes with the Reserve Rack, and results in a slightly cleaner setup.  I am using the Rib Cage that comes with the Reserve Rack, but you could in theory use the wing with any bottle cage.  I have added a camelbak Podium Chill bottle.
  • While testing to see if the Rib Cage that comes with the Fuel Cell was more prone to bottle launching than my other cages, I tried the cage on a different rear mount to compare how the cage preformed on different setups.  While using an XLAB Carbon Wing setup as shown, the Rib Cage launched just as frequently as when I used it on the Reserve Rack.  I found that the Rib Cage launched less than my cheapo no-name cages, but more than my XLAB Gorilla XT.  The Rib Cage held bottles decently when full, but tended to launch more as I emptied the bottles.

Air Tool Compak 

Specialized's Air Tool Compak is designed to be a small floor pump that is easy to travel with and take on adventures.

  • The Air Tool Compak fully assembled and ready for use.
  • The padded case that comes with Specialized's Air Tool Compak.
  • Everything fits nicely in the case, and there is definitely some extra room should you wish to store some other small items.
  • The handles locks onto the side of the pump.  The hose wraps around the top of the pump, and is held in place via a clip on the side of the pump.  There is a grove in the top of the pump for the hose.  This keeps the hose in place, and prevents the pump from sliding out while traveling.
  • This is the button in the center of the handle that you push to unlock the handle.
  • This is the button in the center of the handle that you push to unlock the handle.
  • The handle has a locking square fitting on the bottom which keeps the handle in place.
  • The top of the pump has a grove for the hose.  This keeps the hose in place, and prevents the pump from sliding out while traveling.
  • The head is reversible.  It can be unscrewed to switch from Presta to Schrader.
  • This is the Air Tool Compak's pressure gauge.  I didn't even notice it at first.  After you start pumping, a stick slides out indicating the current pressure.
  • This is the Air Tool Compak's pressure gauge.  I didn't even notice it at first.  After you start pumping, a stick slides out indicating the current pressure.
  • This is the Air Tool Compak's pressure gauge.  I didn't even notice it at first.  After you start pumping, a stick slides out indicating the current pressure.  It indicates both BAR and PSI
  • This is the Air Tool Compak's pressure gauge.  I didn't even notice it at first.  After you start pumping, a stick slides out indicating the current pressure.  It indicates both BAR and PSI
  • Here you can see the amount the handle will extend while pumping.  I found using the pump to be easier than I though it would be, and totally acceptable for a pump of this size.
  • These are the patch tools that come with the Air Tool Compak.  On the left you have several stick on patches.  On the right are two tire levers.  These all can be stored in the handle during transport.  I was disappointed by the fact that they included a patch kit instead of some tools.
  • Here you can compare the size of the Air Tool Compak to a standard floor pump.  The pump in this picture is a Topeak Joe Blow Sport II (on top).  It is a bit longer than the Air Tool Compak.  You can't tell from this photo, but it is also quite a bit wider.

Related Articles
Every year, we find lovely odds and ends to share with you dear readers. The expo at Ironman Hawaii is full of fun. Enjoy!
Seven year after the launch of the original Shiv Tri, Specialized has finally unveiled its successor. With VERY polarizing looks, and a number of interesting features, there's a lot to unpack here.
Although Specialized has not introduced a new bike since the Shiv was launched in 2011, Tim Don's rig caught our eye getting its last-minute tuneup before tomorrow's race.
Last year's 2nd place finisher gives us his perspective on this year's race, and a close look at his snazzy race rig.
After setting up his Kona rig for the 2014 edition of Ironman Hawaii, we returned to Crowie's Boulder home for another interview and to set him up with the new Omega X.