Felt AR3 review

Mature aero pioneer let down slightly by wheels

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0
GBP £2,499.00 RRP | AUD $4,299.00 | USD $3,499.00

Our review

The smooth chassis has aged a little, but is let down by the wheelset and handlebar
Buy if, You want a thoroughly decent aero road bike at a sensible price, and are willing to upgrade
Pros: Frameset, handling and groupset
Cons: Inline brake cable release position
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As one of the aero road bike pioneers, Felt has heaps of experience, and with one of the world’s fastest time trial bikes in its ranks, the company knows a thing or two about cheating drag. The AR3 sits in the middle of Felt’s reasonably priced AR range.

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The frame’s forward-facing tubes have a fairly even ovalised wing shape. The seatstays are bridgeless, thanks to the direct-mount rear brake fitted below incredibly large chainstays that meet at very generous dropouts.

Cabling frustrations

An extensive seat-tube cutout brings the rear wheel in tight, and the seatpost’s wing profile incorporates Felt’s clever clamping system. Slots each side of the post slide up and down on independent clamps which can each be tightened to a hefty 8Nm. Felt says the split design reduces road buzz too, and it does feel more comfortable than its girth would have you expect.

The gear cables are routed through each side of the down tube, leaving extra exposed cable between the bar and frame. With restricted access to the rear direct-mount caliper, Felt has included an in-line cable quick release and adjuster, which is fitted between the bar and the top-tube entry port just behind the headset.

It’s a practical solution, but on our example it sticks out in the wind, and into our knee, causing annoyance when out of the saddle. You could shorten the cable a little and position the metal adjuster nearer to the bar, though that could scuff the bar and stem. As it is, it’s a poor solution both aesthetically and aerodynamically.

Super stiff cockpit

The cockpit, and handlebar in particular, is incredibly stiff to the point of being harsh, which to some extent works against the AR’s otherwise smooth ride. But when you’re hustling the bike out of corners, the bar’s solidity is invaluable – so long as the shape suits: generous flat tops are brilliant when riding on the hoods, and the curve of the drops is great, but at times we found our wrists impeded by the tight upper bend.

We’ve always enjoyed the ride and handling of the current AR range, and here the AR3 still delights. Choosing an aero road bike shouldn’t mean compromising on handling, and the Felt feels well planted and nimble through the twisty stuff. The ride quality is still decent, although with recent carbon frame advances, what felt smooth two years ago is now less so alongside the latest cosseting creations.

That bulbous bottom bracket area equates to excellent power transfer through the beefy stays, into the rear wheel and onto the tarmac. But even though the response is good, the RS31 wheels seem to dampen the frame’s enthusiasm and acceleration. When climbing, it’s clear that something is restricting progress; in part it’s simply gravity, but the wheels in particular feel sluggish. Even though the brakes weren’t set close to the rim, we also suffered some rear wheel rubbing from a combination of an untrue rim and some deflection.

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The AR3 is a bit of an aero road bargain with its well-proven frameset, all-Ultegra drivetrain and decent finishing kit. But while the RS31s are reasonable wheels, they’re the one upgrade we’d recommend.

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Product Specifications

Product

Name AR3
Brand Felt

Available Sizes 48cm 51cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm
Saddle Prologo Zero 11
Wheelbase (cm) 99
Top Tube (cm) 56
Standover Height (cm) 80
Seat Tube (cm) 50
Chainstays (cm) 41
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 28.5
Wheelset Shimano RS31
Weight (kg) 8.2
Trail 5.6
Stem 3T ARX II Pro 110mm
Shifters Shimano Ultegra
Seatpost Felt Vibration Reducing Aero Road
Seat Angle 73
Rear Wheel Weight 1790
Bottom Bracket BB30 pressfit with adaptor
Rear Tyre Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 700x23
Rear Derailleur Shimano Ultegra
Headset Type FSA No. 382/DJ integrated
Head Angle 73
Handlebar 3T Aeronova Pro 420mm
Front Wheel Weight 1240
Front Tyre Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 700x23
Frame Material Felt Aero Road UHC Performance carbon fibre
Fork Offset 4.5
Fork Felt UHC Advanced carbon fibre
Cranks Shimano Ultegra 52/36, 172.5mm
Chain Shimano
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 12-25t
Brakes Shimano Ultegra direct mount
Frame size tested 56cm