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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Gel-Bot review

Recently in the Facebook group "I love cycling in Upstate SC" the question was asked, "Has anyone ever used the new gel bottle? Those bottles that you can but gel in it and water? I know they are very new and wondering if they are catching on." I had seen one in the cycle shop but had never noticed anyone riding with one in their cage.

That's when I figured I would buy one, try it out, and then give a review of the thing here on So, I headed over to Sunshine to start my service to all cyclists everywhere. Hmmmm, maybe I'm not that interested in being of service - the price tag showed just under 17 bucks (online at you can purchase it for $15.95 plus shipping).

There were two of them on the shelf. So I picked one up and went to the counter. I asked if they had sold any other ones and was told that they might have sold two of them before the one I was about to purchase. Obviously, the things weren't flying off the shelf. I hesitated again - I mean, no one wants to be a dork...

I bought it and took it home. Now I had to decide what gel to put in it. I hate gel. I'm the kind of person that chews Jello. So, putting a glob of gel in my mouth while I am riding gets me all messed up. The only thing to do is to get some water in there fast! Of course, juggling a gel pack and water bottle can be dangerous.

At the heart of this device is the little internal gel cell. It is a tube with a plunger located at the bottom. When the rider pushes on the bottle with the valve set to gel (just have the valve closed), the water in the bottle pushes the plunger up and a small amount of gel comes out. The rider can then pull the valve open and receive water.

Did it work? It did. I put a gel pack in with some water and hit the asphalt. I went through my normal motions of reaching for the bottle. With one hand I was able to pressure the bottle and get varying amounts of the gel. I found that it helps to suck on the valve as well as push. If you just push, it can cause the bottle to leak water (that could also be that I didn't have the lid on tight enough).

I then pulled the valve open with my teeth and easily transitioned to water. Wow, that was easy and I wasn't left gagging on a glob of gel! Back in the cage the bottle went and periodically I repeated the process. Before I knew it, I had emptied the cell (It will hold up to two gel packs - I had put in one).

Downsides? The bottle has a different flow for the water than I am used to. It did tend to leak until I sucked on the gel. This led to things being a little messy at first. Also, it is one more thing that you have to clean - though cleanup wasn't really that bad.

Upsides? It made taking in the gel much easier. If you are used to drinking water on your bike, you'll find this makes taking in gel just as easy. You also don't have all the packaging to worry about and buying a bottle of gel is much cheaper than paying for the individual packets.

Is it a gimmick? I don't think so. Granted, I probably will use it primarily on long rides. However, it allowed this guy who up to this point avoided gels, to make use of this quick way to get a little more energy.

Just call me a dork... though I'm not alone. That second bottle I had seen on the shelf was gone when I stopped by the shop later.



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