Today we get to show you one of those bikes we have been waiting quite some time for. The last generation Felt AR was one of our favorite of the second generation aero road bikes. It was light, stiff, extremely aero, and overall just a ton of fun to ride on. But 2013 was a long time ago and we have been waiting patiently to see a successor come to market. And today we finally get that chance.
The New Felt AR
The New AR starts out with many of the ingredients we have seen from the latest generation of aero road bikes. Take the things that made the original bike work well, then make it faster, lighter, stiffer, and throw in some disc brakes.
Let’s start with aero. Felt tells us the new bike is 1.4% faster in overall conditions. And what are overall conditions you ask? Well Felt has an answer for that. “A weighted calculation that describes the distribution of time a cyclist travels aboard a road bike at specific ranges of yaw. We weight this as 90% of the cyclist’s time is spent riding between -10 and 10 degrees of yaw, and the remaining 10% of time is spent riding between both -20 to -10 degrees and 20 to 10 degrees of yaw. Utilizing this 90/10 distribution to weight the time spent riding within and beyond the range of +-10 degrees, respectively, was determined due to a variety of studies that have validated its veracity.” Felt also provided a more specific breakdown of aero improvements:
- 9.4% faster at 0 degrees
- 7.0% faster at -2.5 to 2.5 degrees
- 5.2% faster at -5.0 to 5.0 degrees
- 3.2% faster at -7.5 to 7.5 degrees
- 0.7% faster at -10 to 10 degrees
- 1.4% faster in overall conditions
So where did that fast come from? It starts with their belief that the majority of cycling is done inside of 10 degrees of yaw. The result of this is fine tuning of the aero shapes to best match the expected yaw angles. Next came the “fish lips”. The chainstay and seat tubes have been optimized for wider rims and tires (30mm) in addition to the new “fish lips” shape for improving air flow.
The thru axles got additional aero work. Felt countersunk the front and rear dropouts. And then crafted custom thru-axles featuring flush-mount design.
Back when aero road bikes were first launched it was acceptable that they had the stiffness of a wet noodle. Now… not so much. You cannot win a sprint if you don’t have a stiff bike. The new AR has improved stiffness over its predecessor due to major improvements in carbon.
- 11% improvement in lateral head tube stiffness
- 21% improvement in lateral stiffness of fork
- 15% improvement in torsional stiffness of fork
- 14% improvement in BB pedaling stiffness
But there can be a flip side to a super stiff bike – decreased comfort over the majority of the ride. Which will result in a more tired athlete and a decrease in final performance. To combat this the AR gets an updates seatpost design and all new damping sleeve. A slot in the seatpost allows the two halves to flex independently. The halves behave like two leaf springs bending and shearing to increase flex. A reversible clamping mechanism: 0 degrees or 20mm offset; achieve the similar level of adjustability as our previous flippable AR post.
Another neat tick of the AR is the new integrated chain catcher. For us on the AeroGeeks team – riding without a chain catcher now adays is just not an option. You never know what is going to happen and a chain catcher is insurance. Apparently Felt agrees as they have now built one into the design of the new AR.
The new AR gets a semi-integrated cockpit. In the age of full integration – the choice for semi integration is an interesting one. The goal was to trade some possible aero benefits for ease of maintenance. As people who regularly have to wrench bikes we cannot help but think there is merit to this approach. The semi-integrated design has cables routed under and through stem to hide them from view and the wind. This also gives you the option to run aftermarket stem with dedicated spacer if you so choose. The stock stem is full carbon and features a stem faceplate was designed for use with aftermarket computer mounts.
At launch the bike will be available in two builds plus a frame kit. The frame kit will be available in a single color and set you back $3,499.
For those looking to go mechanical (which first – yes the AR is available as mechanical). There is an Ultegra build in 2 colors. You get a set of Reynolds AR58 wheels with Continental GP 5K tires. Under your bottom will be a Prologo Dimension T4.0.
And for those looking electronic is an Ultegra Di2 version that features the same spec as the mechanical. It is also available in two colors. And will set you back $6,499.
We have been waiting quite some time for this bike and we are super excited to get some seat time on it. Faster and stiffer have become the expectations for the latest generation of road bikes and on paper Felt appears to have created a bike that will more than pass the spec test. You can check out the latest on the specs at https://feltbicycles.com/. But only real road time will tell us if the final product bests the specs. So stay tuned to AeroGeeks.com for some upcoming seat time.