An integrated aerobar mounted hydration system.
An improved lid/refill port. A carbon fiber option, for the bracket itself, and while we're at it, the bottle cage.
Profile Design has certainly had its fair share of hydration equipment and the Aero HC is easily their best one yet.
Profile Design's latest hydration station is the Aero HC. The Aero HC combines many of the features that we feel triathletes will welcome. An aerodynamic profile, refillable on the fly design, and easy installation. Our first experience with a front mounted PD system was with the original Aerodrink. It worked, for the most part, it provided a convenient in yo face source of hydration, but it wasn't the most aero or polished package. If you've been racing for very long, you'll probably remember every bike course used to be littered with the little yellow mesh screens from the old Aerodrink. This new model is a quite a bit more refined.
The new Aero HC builds on the idea of the Aerodrink, but incorporates it into a much better, more streamlined horizontal design. We've tried many different options for a between the bars type setup. Everything from a simple cage tie strapped between our bars, to some pretty ridiculous looking contraptions that we'd be embarrassed to show up to any event with. For those who prefer an all-in-one type of design, this one seems to tick most of the boxes that triathletes have to have.
The Aero HC bottle has attempted to address every little angle and line by adding an aero shape wherever possible. From the removable nose cone cap to the straw mast, every little piece seems to be shaped with purpose. Even the refill cap has an angled design so that it's not just sticking out like a sore thumb.
From the front you can see that this design is pretty clean as far as the "aeroness" is concerned.
Attaching the new Aero HC is simple, basically if you can walk and chew gum at the same time you can handle the install. A couple of bolts and a couple of velcro straps are all it takes to get up and running. The system uses a mount that will fit between your bars, provided they are between 80-120mm spacing. There are a few options that will work with the bottle cage mount assembly, but for the purpose of this review we used the included hardware to attach it to our bars. It's a pretty straightforward process, and the included mount is actually pretty clever. The two bolts that hold the bottle cage in place also secure the entire assembly between your bars.
As you tighten these bolts, the bracket also expands between your bars, and there's a couple of velcro straps to shore it up. In our test riding this system made for a very secure fit. And unlike some of the gimmicky contraptions we've tried in the past this one actually works.
The metal clip that sits between the two mounting bolts is designed to fit impressions in the included bottle. This secures the bottle and helps lock the bottle in place. We didn't have any issues with our sample being launched, so it seems to work.
Behind the bottle sits a removable computer mount.
Honestly, we could take it or leave it, but it does position your computer behind the bottle and out of the wind if you choose to use it.
To date, our preferred setup has been a quality bottle cage tie strapped between our bars. Like most things, the clean and simple approach has worked well and has provided many miles of worry free hydration. We also like this approach for racing, it's easy to grab a new bottle at a hand up and slam it between the bars and go. However, as many of the races we attend have switched to the pre-packaged sports bottle type of hand up, we have noticed that some of those bottles don't exactly fit all that well in a standard bottle cage. Which seems to give a system like this a little more merit. Especially if you can't keep the nice fresh water you just picked up a few miles back in your cage.
One of the things that we really hate about some of the systems we've tried is that they are gigantic big gulp sized contraptions, that only the Waterboy would be proud of.
This setup gives you plenty of volume without going overboard, it is a race after all, not a picnic. Leave your ginormous cooler sized contraptions at home. The bottle that comes with the Aero HC system has a capacity of 28oz, plenty in our opinion.
The best thing about the Aero HC in our opinion is the versatility that it provides. Whether you use the entire system or just the mount with a traditional bottle, you have a setup that can work both ways.
It's nice to have the flexibility to switch over to a traditional bottle if you need/want to. This flexibility isn't available in a lot of hydration systems that have come our way.
We actually took this approach a step further and removed the included cage, metal clip, and computer mount and slapped on a carbon cage we had handy and used it to hold a traditional water bottle. Worked great, kept the bottle secure and we managed to shave a little weight in the process.
Our main complaint with the Aero HC would be with regard to the flip top lid. First of all, it's kind of a pain in general to have to refill vs just grabbing a new fresh bottle. Nothing major, just a personal preference thing. Plus we feel like the lid itself is a bit on the flimsy side and will likely tear at some point, potentially leaving you in a bind and likely wet from the shower that will ensue. We did in fact manage to tear the lid on our sample, and this is the main area where we think this system can be improved upon.
We would prefer to have some sort of slotted lid for a refill port that would allow you to just shove a bottle in and squeeze to refill.
Our sample came in at 296g with a bottle installed.
MSRP of the Aero HC is about 75.00 for the entire system, which isn't bad when you consider a quality carbon fiber cage alone will set you back $50. That said, if you ditch the PD bottle and go with a regular bottle and cage you end up paying for a bunch of stuff that you won't be using.
TriBomb Bottom Line
For those who prefer an all-in-one type of system for between the bars hydration the Aero HC does a good job of combining a nice aero profile in a convenient, easy to use package. As a bonus it also works with a standard bottle setup.