The Versa 500 starts out where the highly successful Torpedo System 400 left off. When we reviewed the 400 we said: “We highly recommend giving it a look. It checks off all the boxes the AeroGeeks had, and even a few we didn’t consider!” At the time, we were quite happy with the product. But it appears XLAB was not quite satisfied, so the new Versa 500 starts where the 400 left off, adding a whole lot of new functionality.
The Torpedo Versa 500
The Versa stars with their new telescoping Garmin-specific computer mount. The telescoping mount allows you to easily adjust your computer to be in your perfect position in front of the bottle. You can raise or lower the mount, move it farther forward or backwards, and tilt it to your heart’s desire.
The bottle on the Versa is an improvement over the original Torpedo as well. The new bottle features XLAB’s new Dolphin Breather Valve technology to keep liquids inside. To prove it, XLAB sent one of their own under the bottle and gave it a shake to prove what it could do.
The new mounting base starts with a new 2-Strap system, which allows for more mounting positions than previous 4-Strap models. The mount can accommodate bar widths 70mm-150mm (center-to-center) without compromising aerodynamic profile and up to 20° of aerobar extension rotation.
The new computer mount is quite simply fantastic. Placing your computer is a personal decision – do you go behind the BTA, on top of, or in front? If you are like Mike, our chief editor, the only proper place for a computer is as far forward as possible (to allow you to easily view the computer with simple eye movements instead of having to move your whole head). The new mount allows exactly that. Mike is able to perfectly position his computer so it falls just behind his hands (he utilizes ski-tip type extensions).
The new bottle has been leak free since we started riding with it. We have bene utilizing the solid refill lid on most of our rides (the Versa also ships with a slotted lid). Our only challenge has been on two instances where the top itself popped out of place. We aren’t quite sure of the reason why, though. We could have overfilled the bottle (XLAB says 26oz, but on race day we have gotten close to 30 in it by pre-drinking from the straw) or we just didn’t close it tightly enough.
We were pleasantly surprised to find the new mounting base not only works with standard two-extension setups, but if you happen to use a mono-type extension (like on the Trek Speed Concept) where there is no room to fit a traditional BTA mount, the Versa mounting base features a pair of bottle boss mounts that can be used to attach to your bike’s exiting BTA mounts (if your bike is so equipped).
So, is there room for improvement? Yes. Specifically on the Garmin mount. The mount uses a swing arm design that has bolts at the bottom (where it attaches to the base mount) and the top (where the computer mount itself resides). The bottom bolt uses a hex bolt that was loose when we first unboxed our Versa (and thus led to the arm coming loose). We tightened it up after that, which stiffened the arm. However, our concern here is that the piece is plastic and over tightening can lead to structural failure. We would love to see XLAB use a toothed design similar to what they use on the bolt that connects the arm to the computer mount. Which, funny enough, we believe could use its own enhancement. The top bolt utilizes a pair of Philips head bolts. Like the bottom bolts, these needed to be tightened, which unfortunately we didn’t realize until we were out for a ride and our computer started bouncing all around. Even worse, we were riding with XLAB’s own MultiTool, which does not have a Philips head screw driver. We would love to see XLAB use the same size hex bolt from the bottom bolt (just retain the toothed design).
The Versa is a definite improvement over the original Torpedo. So much so that if you are a fan of a front-mount computer, we would definitely say it is worth upgrading from the original Torpedo 400. The Versa 500 retails for $149.95. There is also a new Versa 200 that swaps out the carbon for plastic and retails for $84.95. Does it have flaws? Yes. And they’re definitely ones we would love to see XLAB address with a future version. But does that stop us from riding with it? Absolutely not. In fact, if you have been racing in South Florida recently, you may have recognized our very bright green Trek Speed Concept utilizing a Versa 500 for its BTA needs. And if we are willing to race with it, that is the strongest recommendation we can give.