The Merida Aero C Bottle Cage is a quirkily angular hybrid design. It's lightweight, rigid, and easy to use from both top and sides. Without access to a wind tunnel, real-world aerodynamic benefits are difficult to quantify, but it looks the part – and, though not universally compatible, it will even hold some big Thermos bottles very securely, both on and off-road.
The very sharp, angular lines and nylon/carbon fibre composite material creates considerable lateral stiffness. A pair of alloy screws complete the package and possibly save a few grams over stainless steel, but you'll need something longer if your mini pump's going to ride shotgun.
The Aero C is a hybrid design which accepts bottles from the side or the top, which could prove useful with smaller frames or when loaded with luggage.
The slightly unusual angles caused no issues with standard 600, 750 or 800ml bottles, and the Aero C even proves a generous host to the unusual Relaj Shape and even some smaller Thermos types.
I naturally tend to slide bottles in/out at a slight angle, which probably explains why the Aero C and I have been mutually compatible. It doesn't quite have the same access as dedicated side-entry model, but then it does have both versatility and a very low weight.
I've had no issues with bottle chatter, let alone ejection, even with Thermos types when hustling through unmade roads. It's an unexpectedly viable option for gravel riding. The composite mix means the cage feels stiffer than pure plastics and even some carbons too, which is another definite plus.
At £22.99 the Aero C is reasonably good value, all things considered, though the hybrid design makes direct comparisons a little tricky. The choice of black or black/grey at least means it should suit your colour scheme whatever.
You can easily get cheaper cages. The Lezyne Flow SL is a composite side-load model going for £10 in either right or lefthanded versions (or £17 for both), although it's nearly twice the weight.
Assuming your bike(s) aren't on an incredibly strict diet, the Tacx Ciro bottle cage weighs in at 30g and £15.99. It's a minimalist design featuring a fibreglass core wrapped in carbon. The Supercaz Fly Cage Ano is similarly dependable, weighs 22g and costs £16.99.
Then again, it's easy to spend a good deal more on 'regular' designs as well, for instance with the £40 Blackburn Camber carbon fibre bottle cage or £55 Topeak Shuttle Cage X, and arguably not get masses more performance.
While the jury's out regarding the aero tag, the Merida Aero C bottle cage is a genuinely capable all-rounder and more versatile than its moniker implies. Arguably best for a pared back road/TT build, it makes surprisingly capable transition to gravel, adventure and touring duties too.
Light and versatile cage that allows both top and side-entry loading
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Merida Aero C bottle cage
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Merida says it's: "A super-light, carbon bottle cage that won't slow you down. The MERIDA BOTTLE CAGE AERO C weighs just 19 g and comes supplied with two bolts. The design allows you to load your bottle from the top or the side."
Not sure about the aero tag, but it's very competent and surprisingly versatile.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
WEIGHT 19 g
MATERIAL Nylon + Carbon Fiber
Well made from good materials.
Not a side entry model in the commonly accepted sense, but a very secure host to a wide range of bottles. Small and light, too.
No reason to think it won't last.
Pleasant to use, although a more traditional side-entry model might be a better fit for some riders.
Very reasonable value, given the composite's specification and the clever hybrid design.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Light, feels solid and can swallow irregular bottles.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
There's nothing to actively dislike.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The majority of cages sit around the £10-15 mark, so the Aero C seems quite expensive at £22.99. However, it does have the side-loading ability to give it an edge, and as there are plenty of cages at £25+ and even £50+ (though most are full carbon), in reality it sits around mid-market.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's an innovative design that meets the design brief very well, plus it's light, feels strong and is well-priced.
About the tester
I usually ride: Rough Stuff Tourer Based around 4130 Univega mtb Frameset My best bike is: 1955 Holdsworth Road Path and several others including cross & traditional road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)