2014 Felt AR Road Bike Review
After two years of development the 2014 Felt AR is ready for prime time.
With four stage wins in the 2013 Tour de France, Felt road bikes have had their share of good press. Not willing to rest on these accomplishments, Felt Bicycles went back to the drawing board to improve upon the 2013 models.
At the 2014 Felt product launch Jim Felt, the man who is the driving force behind the company, stood in front of the assembled press and explained how every project starts out with a blank piece of paper. Felt formulates those ideas which are then shaped with multiple visits to the wind tunnel. With the help of a 3-D printer they are able to prototype ideas quickly and test them in the tunnel.
“We have set the bar very high for every company out there,” said Felt. “I’m living my dream.”
Part of that dream is the creation of the 2014 Felt AR road bike line. Felt claims the ’14 AR is 40% stiffer, lighter and more aerodynamic than the AR model of the previous year.
During the creation of the 2014 AR, Felt didn’t want the new model to be dominant in just one frame characteristic at the sacrifice of the other factors. That meant it had to be top of its class in aerodynamics, but in stiffness and weight as well.
“There was a no holds approach to product design,” said Felt’s road brand manager Dave Koesel. “There was no compromise.”
The AR was two years in the works with multiple trips to the wind tunnel for development.
It was in these trips to the tunnel that Felt designers determined that the rounder, “softer” cross sections for the AR frame’s tubes improved aerodynamics in all yaw angles – conditions a rider is more likely to experience in the real world.
In testing Felt said the 2014 AR was one of the fastest bikes across multiple wind angles making it almost 15 percent faster than the 2013 AR model. Tipping the scales at 900 grams the 2014 AR is also lighter than last year’s model by 35 percent.
The AR’s tubes are designed to have the same lift effect as a sail boat. In some wind situations the tubes actually give lift. However, just because the tube shapes are aerodynamic and produce in some situations as little drag as a deep profile wheel, doesn’t mean the AR will propel itself down the road. Once a rider is added to the equation the grams of drag increase. However, in a sprint or long solo effort any type of aerodynamic saving can mean the difference between first and finishing in the middle of the pack.
The new AR might be more aero and lighter, but was that done at the sacrifice of comfort? As mentioned earlier, Felt didn’t want to create a bike that shined in only one performance category. It had to be the best in several.
To improve on the comfort factor Felt redesigned the aero seatpost. As we all know, a seatpost is held in place by the seat binder clamping against it. Due to the shape of aero