Founded in 2005, the Indiana based AeroCat brand of bikes has developed a respectable following at the grassroots level of racing throughout much of the U.S., thanks to its consistent support of amateur and collegiate teams. The core of AeroCat is made up of two cycling enthusiasts who created a business model that started with them chasing down their preferred overseas manufacturing partners, where the bikes are built, before they are shipped to America for final assembly. In order to try and break away from the pack of small bike companies peppering the market, AeroCat has undergone a few brand-building changes. They also designed a new marquee model, the R525, to fly the brand’s flag.
Owing to AeroCat’s proven commitment to racing, it’s no surprise that the R525’s monocoque carbon frame was designed with the competitive cyclist in mind. Sprouting from a BB30 bottom bracket you’ll find tall and boxy chainstays to ensure efficient power transfer, as well as a seat tube sporting a cutout for the rear wheel to help shorten the bike’s wheelbase (94.7cm) and a hearty, triangular-shaped downtube. Up front, a 1 1/8- to 1 1/2- inch tapered head tube joins the downtube and robust top tube, which features an internally routed rear-brake cable. With its wavy silhouette, the integrated fork is similar in appearance to the version originated by Pinarello. The frame itself is only available in black, but custom-colored paint accents are available if you’re so inclined. Aerocat offers both the standard version and a limited-edition version, and the entire component selection can be customized to your wants and needs as well.
Our test model was the “Limited Edition” version of the R525, which comes with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain and features some very clean internal wiring and standard gearing. The aluminum Shimano Ultegra wheels were wrapped in Michelin Pro3 Race tires. Rounding out the product spec are the Ultegra brakes, aluminum Omega Compact handlebar from FSA, a Deda Zero 1 aluminum stem and AeroCat’s own proprietary 31.6mmdiameter, carbon seatpost topped with a Selle Italia SLR saddle. The standard version of the R525 comes with a mechanical Ultegra drivetrain and sells for $3849.
This is a bike we’d choose on race day for two reasons: stiffness and handling. Front-end stiffness is particularly impressive thanks to the head tube’s large taper and a robust fork. This same combination yields a bike that absolutely flies through the corners, from entry to exit, with steering that is pleasantly light but never twitchy. In its typical fashion, the BB30 gets the job done in terms of power transfer, with assistance from the straight-as-an-arrow, tall chainstays. While an all-day jaunt on the R525 would be just fine with most of our testers, we know there are some riders who’d prefer a bike with more vertical compliance. Simply put, there’s not much to be found here. Despite some relatively thin seat stays that soak up most light road chatter, the R525 can feel a bit harsh over rough roads strewn with potholes and divots.
Aerocat would best represent the “small-guy” effort, and it’s good to see a smaller company still able to bring to market a competitively priced carbon/electric bike that can compete with the big brands. Better still, with the seemingly endless number of carbon frames that are hitting the market, it’s always refreshing to come across one that performs exceptionally well at an intended task. And in the realm of stiff bikes suited for powerful pedal mashers and criterium aficionados, the R525 certainly holds its own. It’s not a bike for the rider who prefers the plushest of ride qualities, nor is it for one who frequents pothole-stricken, debris-laden roads. But if fast group rides and races beckon your attention, consider the R525 a worthy steed. And best of all is that Aerocat is open to building you a bike with the parts of your choice.
• Stiff frame means a fast bike
• Harsh ride not suited for everyone
• Confidence-inspiring steering
Weight: 17.2 pounds
Sizes: 48, 51 (tested), 54, 56, 58, 61cm
For more info: AeroCat