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