I am very happy to see more and more manufacturers incorporating hydration options into their frame designs. Every triathlete needs to add some form of hydration to their bike, and it is only logical that bicycle manufacturers consider that early on in the design phase. These integrated hydration options are usually the most aerodynamic option available, and should be at the top of your list if you are lucky enough to have a bike with such an option. Some frames come stock with the hydration products, and some require an additional purchase. Below we have a brief rundown of some of the frames that include integrated hydration.
(Read our full review of the Specialized Shiv). The Specialized Shiv has arguably the most elegant solution for integrated hydration. The bike comes stock with the Fuelselage. This is a bladder that slides into the down tube, completely hidden from the wind. There is a straw that comes up from the top tube, and has a magnet on the tip that can be used to hold the straw against your aero bars. A cap on the top of the Fuelselage allows for easy refilling while on the go. Since the bladder is vertical, it is easy to drink almost all of the fluid inside. The bladder comes out for easy cleaning and storage. There is a lot to like about this system.
There are only a few minor issues with this system. It can be a bit tough to install at first, but with a little practice isn't too difficult. The valve that comes with the Fuelselage is very hard to use. I found that by the time I had sucked the fluid up to my mouth I need to take a breath, and when I released suction on the straw, all the fluid rocketed back down into the bladder. I solved this problem by replacing the stock valve with a Big Bite valve from Camelbak for less than $5.
I generally use the Fuelselage for water storage. I don't recommend using it for sports drinks or anything flavored as it will leave a taste and can lead to bacteria buildup. When racing, I use course bottles to refill the Fuelselage, and can do so without stopping. While training, I carry extra water in saddle bottles, and use them to refill the Fuelselage. This works very well, and having the straw from the Fuelselage in your face all the time reminds you to drink.
Scott Plasma 5
(Review of the Scott Plasma 5 coming soon!) The Scott Plasma 5 can be equipped with a bottle and fairings that allow for a hydration solution that adds no frontal area. The bottle is similar to some of the bottles that TorHans makes. You have a bottle and straw that sit vertically between your aero bars. A filler cap on top allows you to add fluid while on the go.
When we first saw the Plasma 5 at Interbike 2014, we were disappointed by the number of parts needed for this system, and how tricky it was to get all the fairings in place. We will have a full review of the Plasma 5 in the near future, and get into more detail on the bottle and fairings then.
(Read our full review of the Falco V). The down tube of the Falco V bike mates perfectly with a Tacx aero bottle. You can use the bottle for a high calorie fuel mix, or use it to store spare parts. I would still use a BTA bottle for water, but the Tacx aero bottle is worth using as well if you own this bike.
Underneath the Tacx bottle is a removable flap allowing access to the bike's voluminous down tube. This allows access to the cables while routing the bike, and was primarily designed for the ability to store and hide a Di2 battery, but it could also be used as downtube storage or a flat kit as well, leaving the Tacx bottle itself free for even more hydro/storage options.
The very exotic Cat Cheetah was quite one of the first tri bikes to have an integrated hydration system (if not the very first). It featured a bladder in the bike's down tube, much like the Specialized Shiv, but predates the Shiv by about a decade! You may have seen Natascha Badmann riding one on her way to several of her 6 world championship wins. The bike is now quite dated, but still worth mentioning as one of the originals.
More recently, Cervelo's P4 showed that manufacturers hadn't forgotten the possibility of integrated hydration. Cervelo's wind tunnel tests showed that using the bottle adds no drag to the bike, and in fact the bike was faster with the bottle than without. It essentially disappears behind the down tube. While the P4 is no longer being manufactured, Cervelo continued to look at how bottles and frames can live together in better aerodynamic harmony. While Cervelo nixed the integrated bottle for its P5, the bike's wide truncated downtube airfoil is said to be a better match for frame bottles (both aero and standard) than a standard airfoil.