We never know quite what to expect when we publish a new First Ride article here on AeroGeeks. Sometimes the products or articles we feel are most controversial receive no feedback, while others that we think would generate minimal response bring in emails and tweets for days. Case in point: our First Ride on the Aero HC. We didn’t expect the number of questions we received about the product, which is exactly why we publish two articles for our long term reviews—to ensure sure we answer your questions while we still have the product available for testing.
The Aero HC System
For those who missed our First Ride, let’s start with a quick recap. The Aero HC is meant to provide athletes with a complete BTA hydration setup. The system is comprised of both a bottle and mount. With a shape similar to that of a submarine, the bottle contains both a refill port and a flexible straw located at the rear. The bottle’s nose is rounded to aid in aerodynamics (though this does however require that the bottle is used in a single orientation) and is removable for easy cleaning. What’s more, the entire bottle is dishwasher safe.
To secure to your aero bars, the mount uses a combination of Velcro straps and plastic half sleeves. The mount includes a cage for the bottle and a bar (located at the rear) for mounting your computer. To aid in the final placement of the bottle and computer, which is hugely important with this setup, the cage and computer mount are both independently adjustable.
Fitting the Aero HC
Proper fit of a BTA—or any hydration solution for that matter—is an often overlooked yet hugely important factor in its usability. If you cannot easily use the solution, it will not work for you. It’s just that simple. The Aero HC provides a large degree of flexibility when fitting due to the independent adjustability of both the bottle cage and computer mount. This is essential due to the required orientation of the bottle and the fact that the straw is located at the rear. Because of this, you will need to set the bottle as far forward as possible to ensure that you can easily reach the straw. Additionally, if the bottle is not pushed far enough forward, you may find it difficult to read the computer (this was the question we received most over the past few weeks).
For the team here, Mike uses ski tip extensions and was able to push the mount far enough forward that he had no issues. In fact, the Aero HC is his current go-to BTA solution. Devon, on the other hand, uses S-Bend extensions. This severely limits his ability to position the bottle forward, which made for a not-so-ideal fit on his bike. We expect that riders with straight bars and ski tips—especially riders with longer forearms—will find the Aero HC to be an easy fit for their bike. However, those with shorter forearms or S-Bends may find that they cannot position the bottle forward enough to make it easily useable.
When it came to the computer, the main question we received was whether it was useable in the far back position. Again, as long as your fit allows you to push to Aero HC as far forward as possible, you should not have any issues. It also helped to angle the computer a bit downward so that when you looked down, the computer was easy to easy.
The other question we received was if there were any issues with the 510. As many are aware, the 510 is quite a bit larger than the 500. So it’s not surprising that people would be concerned about the 510 fitting on the bracket. As you can see below, there were no issues.
Refilling on the Fly
For a BTA solution to be really successful, you must be able to refill on the fly. Typically that means grabbing a bottle from another location on the bike, or from an aid station, and refilling while staying at full speed. Throughout our testing we never had an issue refilling the bottle while riding. The top opens easily and can accommodate a number of different sport bottle tops. The opening is a bit smaller than other tops, which is helpful in reducing splash-back. The downside to this is that bottles with larger, wide-mouth screw tops (like a 32oz Gatorade) are a bit harder to use to when refilling.
One of the few issues we had with the Aero HC was that we noticed the plastic around the refill top had cracked a little. We suspect this was due to us leaving the top in the open position when we threw it in the dishwasher. The crack did not in any way compromise the top, and was really not that noticeable. To avoid this, we’d recommend closing the refill top when you use place it in the dishwasher.
There is clear evidence of the effort and thought Profile Design put into the Aero HC. They have created a refillable BTA system that solves many of the problems of previous systems, and most importantly, never leaked once throughout our testing. It does have some flaws, however. And because of the fit issues, it may not be for everyone. However, those like Mike, whose position works with the Aero HC, are going to find this to be a BTA system that becomes second nature—drink when you need to, refill when you have to, and never stop riding!