When spending countless hours on the bike training, nutrition and hydration are extremely important; also having a hydration solution which is easy use and refill while while riding is key so you can stay focused on the task ahead. This season while training for the Ironman Louisville I figured it was time to upgrade my old aero bar bottle to something that didn’t soak me and was more aerodynamic. Since the Running Free Team is sponsored by Nathan I opted to test out the NATHAN AP Pro Aerobar hydration system. Before buying the bottle I did some research on the AP Pro but couldn’t find much other than information from Nathan’s website. One thing that I did discover was that this product was designed and built by Nathan and tested and approved by pro triathlete Andy Potts which is also where the product got its name “AP” for Andy Potts.
The install of the bottle was extremely easy with Nathan’s patent-pending, articulating arms which adjust and are able to fit any length or positioning of standard aero bars. The mounting system does not require any rubber or zip ties to attach to the area bars. But my first mistake was not using the bottle on the bike in any training rides before committing it to race use. Since I bought the bottle right before leaving for Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant the first time using this bottle was on a short 15km test ride the day before the race.
My first impression of the bottle, I wasn’t very satisfied. The first issue was when the bottle was full of fluid it would tip forward, this was because of the position of the mount on the aero bars. Since my bars are at a fixed width which is fairly narrow, the mounting clips were very close together which caused the unit to pivot in the centre. The only way to fix this on the fly was to grab a hair elastic from my wife to wrap around my aero bars below the front of the bottle to stop it from tilting forward.
The second issue is the soft-sip bite valve straw which would constantly spit fluids back at you with every small bump in the road surface. Which isn’t that bad when it’s just water, but when using sports drinks it makes a very sticky mess of you and the bike quickly. Also the quick-fill port which is easy to use if the front of the bottle is supported correctly by the mount, but the cap that goes over the quick-fill port is quite difficult to click back on while riding.
The third and most concerning issue is was that the bottle would not stay attached to the aero bars. During the first use of the bottle during the 56 mile bike leg of the 70.3 bike course the bottle and mount popped off the aero bars when hitting a large bump in the road, luckily I was able to catch the bottle in midair and attach it back to the bars. This was easy to fix after the race with a zip tie, but when the product claims it required no zip ties, I feel this defeats the purpose of the innovative mounting system. Before my Ironman in Louisville I forgot to reattach the mount with a zip tie and I had to catch the bottle about 6 times throughout the 112 miles on the bike.
After using the bottle on many rides I was able to solve some of my issues with the AP Pro bottle. I now have a permeant hair elastic on my aero bars, and if you clear the soft-tip bite valve after you take a sip by biting it again you don’t get covered with sports drink. The overall the bottle looks great, it’s easy to clean compared to other bottles I have used and the clip to add an inspirational message or picture is nice, but I did have higher expectations for a Nathan product, specially with a price tag of $84.99 CDN. I currently own and have used many other Nathan products with 100% satisfaction. I have read many similar complaints about the AP Pro and also came across a response from a representative at Nathan that they are in the process of enhancing the design of the AP Pro to create a more robust unit. I have contacted Nathan about the issues with this product and hopefully have it replace with a new unit before next season.
- 24 oz / 710 ml
- Adjustable cage
- Quick-fill port cap
- Two Flexible straws
- Aerodynamic straw mast
- Deck ring which allows rider to mount inspirational message or picture