Review of the Gel-Bot

06.16.2006 | 6:31 am

An Incredibly Special Note from Fatty: Today’s entry is excerpted from a brand-spanking new blog Bob (of the recently-defunct Bob’s Top 5), dug (of here and elsewhere), and I are launching: Random Reviewer. In it, Bob, dug, and I will review things. Yesterday, for example, dug reviewed the toilet plunger at his office. Today, I’m reviewing an innovative water bottle. Monday, Bob will review whatever he wants to. 

Sometimes we’ll review new stuff. Sometimes old stuff. Sometimes we may review experiences. Sometimes we’ll do head-to-head comparisons of primary colors.

It will all be, I’m afraid, quite random.

If you’re the kind of person who sets bookmarks, either one of these will do nicely:

And now, on with the review.


Review of the Gel-Bot 

I’m a big fan of the little guy. If there’s a David-vs-Goliath contest, you can bet I’m rooting for David. If there’s a movie about a loveable loser faced with an insurmountable task and impossible odds, I’m right there, hoping he’ll find a way to somehow prevail. If there’s a small business going toe to toe against a big business, I want the small business to magically defy the odds and come out on top.

Make no mistake: VerntureDesignWork’s Gel-Bot—a water bottle that also dispenses gel, depending on how many notches you pull out the valve—definitely fits this profile. So when the VentureDesignWorks guys sent me a Gel-Bot, I really wanted to give it a good review. Really, I did.

But I’m not going to. Sorry.


What’s Good About It

The most startling thing about the Gel-Bot is that it does what they say it does. You pour water (or whatever sports drink you like) into the main bottle compartment, and then squeeze a couple gel packs into the gel reservoir. Be careful about fluid/gel flavor dissonance: lemon-lime Gatorade and Choco-mocha Gu are not a happy flavor combo.

The gel reservoir will hold a maximum of 2.5 gel packs, which seems kind of dumb. Why not two? Or three? Why specifically design the gel reservoir to hold a fraction of a gel pack?

Wait. Sorry. This is the “What’s Good About It” part. Let me start again.

Prime the plunger, snap the gel cylinder gizmo back onto the bottle valve, wash your hands to clean off the gel you inevitably spilled on yourself, tighten the bottle top so you don’t get gel drizzling down your chin the first time you squeeze the bottle, and you’re ready to go. Except instead of taking you ten seconds to fill a bottle like it normally does, it took you three minutes and you realize the first time you do this that there’s no way you’re going to do this on a regular basis.

Sorry. I’m still in the “What’s Good About It” part, aren’t I? OK.

The first time I tried squirting some gel into my mouth, nothing came out. So I squeezed harder. Still no luck. Then I used my GI Joe Kung Fu Grip, and gel came out. So yay, the Gel-Bot works. You’ve just got to show the bottle who’s boss first.

Then, just to put the bottle through its paces, I pulled the valve all the way out so I’d get just water. No trouble whatsoever, there. As a standalone bottle, the Gel-Bot is excellent. It’s big (24oz) and clear, just like a bottle should be.


What’s Wrong With It

The thing is—and I’ve alluded to it before—the payoff’s way too slight for the setup involved. Any time you use this thing, you’ve got to:

  1. Take apart the four pieces of the bottle (bottle, cap, gel reservoir, plunger)
  2. Get out a couple gels
  3. squirt ‘em in
  4. Clean up
  5. Put it all together

I know for sure I’m going to lose at least one of those parts the first time I put it through the dishwasher. In fact, that plunger’s so small I don’t think I should put it through the dishwasher at all. It’s likely to get sucked up and disposed of, along with the cheerios and apricot pits.

What, you don’t leave apricot pits in your bowls as you put them through the dishwasher? Well, then you’re babying your dishwasher. Cut it out.


What’s Really Wrong With It

Sorry, but to learn what’s really wrong with the Gel-Bot–as well as what’s really, really wrong with the Gel-Bot–you’re going to need to finish the review over at

PS: Yeah, I’m blatantly using my existing blog to lend momentum to the new one I’m starting with my friends. But I’m only doing it because I care about you.


  1. Comment by Unknown | 06.16.2006 | 3:19 pm

    What a great way to get free stuff. Fatty, you da man !!

  2. Comment by regina | 06.16.2006 | 6:29 pm

    OK since you care i forgive you.  Now how much do you weigh.  whatever happened to the fad diet?

  3. Comment by Unknown | 06.17.2006 | 7:40 am

    I’ll switch over to Random Reviewer as soon as you get hold of a PowerTap SL 2.4 to give away.  Wireless version of the PowerTap power meter, not in production yet, that they only give to special review sites to try out.
    Okay – I lied.  I’m heading over there now to find out what’s really wrong with the water bottle / gel dispenser.  Or to read about toilet plungers.

  4. Comment by The Dana Files | 06.17.2006 | 2:34 pm

    I didn’t even know this thing existed!  Nice review!

  5. Comment by Andrew | 06.18.2006 | 1:16 pm

    Here’s a small start-up company, struggling to make ends meet, and you diss them for gratuitous laughs. I can see it:
    "Daddy, do we have enough money to mave indoors yet?"
    "Son, we almost did, but somebody called "Farty" or something bad-mouthed us, and our sales went to crap."
    I think you’re getting too big for your britches.

  6. Comment by Unknown | 06.18.2006 | 4:32 pm

    Hey FC,
    Will the Fat Cyclist Fake News Service be covering the Tour de France this year?  I hope you get your press credentials soon!  Looking foward to your insight.

  7. Comment by Jose | 06.18.2006 | 8:39 pm

    Dear FC;
    We were going to send you our ultra modern automatic Derailleur, but after your review of the Gel-Bot gues what? We have reconsidered our decision. We will use controlled Focus Groups.
    Best regards,
    Automatic Bike Derailleurs, INC.

  8. Comment by Unknown | 06.19.2006 | 3:35 am

    Not to stray too far from the subject matter Fatty, but weren’t you supposed to update us on your weight loss on a regular basis?  And what ever happened to your new diet?  It seems as though you and everyone else have completely forgotten.  What’s up?  I’m interested to hear the results!!!

  9. Comment by BIg Mike In Oz | 06.19.2006 | 9:25 am

    It’s a bit like skateboarding down deadmans hill as a 12 year old… it seemed like a good idea at the time.

  10. Comment by barry1021 | 06.19.2006 | 5:37 pm

    Bike Mike
    I was 15 when i did the cycling equivalent of skateboarding down deadman’s hill. A complete 360 without a helmet and she wasn’t even impressed, she thought I was an idiot. Go figure.

  11. Comment by Unknown | 06.19.2006 | 6:59 pm

    Fatty. . . sometimes you are a big baby, huh? I got me a gel-bot too, and a big ‘ol bottle of goo. . . takes all of one minute to put in some water and goo. . . slap on the lid and go. Only complaint I have is that the goo comes out *too* fast. However, its much, much, much, much better than reaching around to a jersey pocket to grab and gel pack, unwrap it in your teeth, try to stuff it in your mouth (and not connect your fillings electrically, shocking your brain), then fold up the packet into your pocket again. . . all while flying along in a sketchy cat 4/5 field at 25 mph or flying down a mountain hoping like heck that the shocks absorb it all.

    Later for you. . .

  12. Comment by Unknown | 06.19.2006 | 8:34 pm

    First off, nice comment Derek.  Nice to see that someone likes the GelBot . . . 
    Second . . .
    Dear FC, how is the Stunt Diet™???  I think you probably backslid and don’t want to tell us about it.  You were probably alluding to the Stunt Diet™ the day you wrote about cliff bars and unmentionable bodily functions . . .  that smell.  But it is not the same as keeping us in the loop.  Come on man, you hyped your diet, made the sell, got us all hook line and sinker and then left us hanging!  Unfair!
    Of course you could have been terribly busy flying back and forth across the US and it has probably been very difficult to stick to your plan while doing so. 
    So we’ll cut you some slack, but just this once. lol   But please keep us informed, I would like to know if I still have a chance to win that bike you are going to give away.    :)
    Third . . .
    What do you think about the new Discovery Team?  They posted the new line-up for the Tour de France team on Friday.  Here’s hoping that you will cover the Tour this year in your usual witty way.

  13. Comment by Unknown | 06.20.2006 | 1:27 am

    I think it’s a splendid idea.  I buy huge bottles of gel from Hammer and dispense the stuff into a flask.  Too many gel packs end up as litter, so we should all switch over to products like this that help to keep the roads/trails clean.  So there.

  14. Comment by Andrew | 06.20.2006 | 2:34 am

    I’m not sure how I know this, but I think Fatty’s jumping the shark.


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