The 2020 Felt AR is faster, stiffer, comfier and not horribly impractical

And it doesn't have dropped seatstays!

Felt AR

Felt has announced its all-new aero bike, the AR. Replacing the existing model, the new AR is claimed to be both more aero and more comfortable than its predecessor, and naturally it has disc brakes too.

Advertisement MPU article

While it follows industry trends for greater integration, the AR has a number of features aimed at making it more rider (and mechanic) friendly.

We’ve already had the chance to ride the 2020 Felt AR and it feels like every inch the race machine – check out our first ride review here or read on for the full tech overview.

Discs, clearances, comfort, stiffness and speed

Close-up of rider straddling new Felt AR
Everything about the new AR is focused on going fast.

The new AR is disc brake only and it officially accepts tyres up to 30mm wide (and likely wider, unofficially). 

The chainstays and seat tube are apparently optimised for wider tyres, the latter presumably being fatter to smooth airflow. The whole frameset is sculpted and tweaked to be slippery, with an hourglass head-tube profile that’s reminiscent of the old AR, plus smaller touches such as the flush-fit thru-axles.

Rear axle and disc of aero road bike
The perfectly flush fit of the thru-axles is very satisfying to the eye.

Unlike many bike makers, Felt hasn’t gone with fully-dropped seatstays, the usual route to rear-end comfort and aero gains.

Instead, the AR has a slot in its seatpost that apparently allows the two halves of the post to flex independently. 

Bike with SRAM and Zipps on road, with seatpost slot visible
The slot in the seatpost is clearly visible here.

The post is mounted in a special sleeve co-moulded from plastic and rubber and this adds vibration absorption and, we presume, some extra compliance.

In total, Felt claims a 112 per cent increase in seatpost deflection compared to the old bike, which sounds like a lot, although we don’t know how bendy the last AR was, so don’t get too excited.

Unsurprisingly, aero gains are central to the new AR’s appeal. Like some other manufacturers, Felt reckons that the vast majority of riding takes place at yaw angles (i.e. the combination of rider speed and actual wind direction) of less than 10 degrees.

Close-up of seatpost in frame
The seatpost sits in a sleeve for extra vibration absorption.

At zero degrees (i.e. head-on), the new AR claims to be 9.4 per cent faster than its predecessor. This drops to 7.0 per cent at +/- 5 degrees, 5.2 per cent at +/- 5 degrees, 3.2 per cent at +/- 7.5 degrees, and 0.7 per cent at +/- 10 degrees. 

Overall, Felt estimates a 1.4 per cent gain using a weighted calculation based on its assessment of real world riding conditions.

There are plenty of numbers about stiffness too, with Felt claiming improvements of 11 per cent, 21 per cent, 15 per cent and 14 per cent for lateral head tube stiffness, lateral fork stiffness, torsional fork stiffness and bottom bracket pedalling stiffness respectively.

Practicality. No, really

Aero bikes aren’t known for their practical touches, but the AR has a few. 

First up, a proprietary chain catcher prevents the chain from falling inwards and getting stuck.

Up front, the cables and hoses are semi-integrated, passing through the bar, appearing briefly, and then disappearing into the full-carbon stem. 

Chain catcher on Felt AR frame
A chain catcher helps protect your precious frame.

The stem is designed to be removable without the need to cut cables, making it travel-friendly. 

Its faceplate is designed to accept computer mounts, and the bike is also compatible with standard stems because there’s a conventional round steerer underneath that stack of aero headset spacers.

The bottom bracket uses the BB386 standard, which allows for compatibility with a large variety of cranks.

2020 Felt AR pricing and availability

Felt AR
The AR will initially be available in two Shimano builds.

The 2020 Felt AR is available now with pricing as follows. Pricing in other territories is to be confirmed:

Advertisement MPU article
  • Felt AR Ultegra Di2: $6,499 / €6,399
  • Felt AR Ultegra: $4,999 / €4,999
  • Felt AR frame kit (includes seatpost and stem): $3,499