The CrankTank4 is a water-carrying device for bike travellers.
It piqued my interest as I was browsing my email inbox – until now I’d only really seen hydration devices integrated into Ironman-specific time trial bikes (seriously, check out the Specialized Shiv Disc, complete with wacky 1.5-litre hydration fuel cell behind the seat tube).
When it comes to carrying water, people with bikepacking setups currently choose between:
– A frame pack with a 1-3 litre hydration bladder stowed inside, or;
– 2 or 3 regular water bottles (which are super convenient but take up a LOT of gear volume inside the frame)
The CrankTank4 looks to be a great alternative to both bladders and bottles. It offers more water storage than both (4-litres), along with better weight distribution on your bike (hey, water is heavy). In addition, the straw allows you to hydrate on rough roads with both hands on the bars, plus it’s quick to fill, and it’ll even integrate a water filter into the system.
While I haven’t played with one yet, the CrankTank4 interested me enough to give you my initial thoughts…
If you’re coming from a bikepacking background, you’ll know how important space management is. The CrankTank4 stores 4-litres of water in the same space as two bidon cages with 750ml + 600ml bottles.
Large 4-Litre Capacity
The CrankTank4 is designed to carry enough water for 24 hours, which in average conditions sounds about right (especially if you’re not cooking meals). I usually drink about 3-litres per day while I’m riding, and require another 2-litres overnight for two meals. Either way, you should only need to fill the CrankTank4 once or twice per day.
Drink and Ride
The insulated straw routes along your downtube and up to your handlebars. A ‘Tube Keeper’ at the handlebar allows your straw to stay fixed to the bars when you don’t need it. Having water this accessible makes it easier to hydrate more regularly on the bike, which is a great habit to fall into.
Quick to Install, Remove and Fill
The CrankTank4 is quicker to fill than a hydration bladder and comparable to a couple of bottles, taking approximately 9-seconds to remove and 13-seconds to install (see video above). If we compare the fill time to the equivalent volume in bottles, the CrankTank4 is undoubtedly the quickest option.
Low and Central Weight Distribution
The location above the crankset is about as optimised as water storage gets (without affecting ground clearance), lowering your bikes centre-of-gravity and making your loaded bike ride more stable!
Water Filter Compatibility
The CrankTank4 can neatly integrate a Sawyer Squeeze Mini filter into its straw, which allows you to quickly fill up from a tap and filter as you go. The Sawyer filters are my personal water filter of choice for their durability, pack size and low cost (seriously, they’re just $14.95 on Amazon + $5 for the inline adapter).
The overall weight of the system is 480 grams, which is about 42 grams heavier than 3x 980ml SIS bottles and King Stainless bidon cages. Compared to a 3-litre Camelbak hydration bladder inside a Blackburn Outpost Elite frame pack (492 grams total or 164g/L), the CrankTank4 in combination with a half frame pack is approximately 200 grams heavier (680 grams total or 170g/L).
No More Missing Bottles
Ever descended a rocky trail to find a bottle has rattled free from its cage? That won’t happen with the CrankTank4 – the straps will ensure it stays attached to your frame, even on the roughest of trails.
Hard To Estimate Your Water Left (Grey model only – white IS translucent)
I can usually look down and make a quick calculation on when I’m next going to need to fill up. The CrankTank4 (in grey) isn’t translucent so water levels will be difficult to gauge. I’ve been told a grey translucent version is in the works and should be available in the first half of 2020.
With the odd tank shape and narrow straw, the CrankTank4 will be a little less convenient to clean than your bidons. Expect the cleaning process to be similar to a hydration bladder (lots of tutorials online). I recommend getting some cleaning brushes for the straw in particular.
The CrankTank4 isn’t exactly pocket change (US $75) but compared to a hydration pack like the Camelbak Ratchet 3L (US $85) it’s certainly not unreasonable either. Update: CyclingAbout readers have just been given a 10% discount code! You can use ‘cyclingabout’ at the checkout to cash-in on this deal (I don’t get kickbacks – this is simply a generous offer from the manufacturer).