From the moment I was setting up the Felt AR2 it was obvious a significant amount of R&D has gone into the latest variant of the Felt Aero Road frame. Take for example the adjustability of the seat angle: the seat clamp and the mechanism for adjustment is a double barrel cog, which allows for micro adjustments of seat angle, and the simplicity of the seat clamp with two Allen key bolts counter-sunk into the frame which can be tightened from either side of the bike. The aero seat post has a cutout which runs length-ways through the middle of the post that the internal seat clamp tightens onto. Felt supplies rubber grommets to make the post aero that are inserted into the cutouts once the seat height is set. If you plan on setting the bike up yourself, be careful not to cut these grommets too short.
This is Felt’s second iteration of the Aero Road frame and they have made some noteworthy innovations in the latest edition. Felt has increased the size of their aero tubing, which they claim is 30% more aerodynamic than traditional road bike tubing.
Additionally, the bottom bracket has been beefed up to improve stiffness through the drive train. They have also relocated the rear brake to the underside of the chain stays to further improve frame aerodynamics.
The frame’s build quality is of a very high standard, as you would expect from a globally renowned brand. Its livery complements the matte carbon finish and the paint scheme had many admirers across the review period. I rode the Felt AR2 in all conditions and also over some gravel roads and found the finish on the frame exceptionally hardy, and easy to clean, especially on the underside of the down tube, where you can sometimes take some stone-chip damage.
The Di2 wiring and brake cable routing in the AR2 has been cleverly designed and serves its purpose well. However the rear brake cable with its inline tension adjuster may prove tricky for the home mechanic, and given the extra length it requires before entering the top tube, the cable was long enough to make occasional contact with my knee.
The standard equipment on the Felt AR2 is appropriate for its price bracket and the Fulcrum wheels are no exception.
Weighing in at a reasonable 1725g for the pair, they’re a very responsive and stiff wheelset that suits the AR2 frame down to the ground. They appear to be virtually bullet proof as they were tested on some challenging surfaces, such as the unforgiving roads around Wisemans Ferry, north of Sydney.
The Fulcrum braking surface offered a consistent feel through the levers and predictable braking performance. The rear brake, positioned on this bike as several other aero frames are wont to do, under the bottom bracket, did suffer some brake rub and so the pads were adjusted to sit a touch wider of the rim than I am used to. While being picky, another down side I find of this mounting position is that the caliper, cable and cable housing are exposed to more road debris and may require more regular cleaning.
The AR2 is appropriately equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 which adds only a few extra grams, but to my mind gives nothing away in performance so far as smoothness of shifting goes. I’ve ridden both groupsets concurrently and can find no difference in either front or rear derailleur actuation.
The AR2 receives the upgraded etube charging junction box and an internal battery, which is cleverly installed in the aero seat post with a custom Felt fitting.
Felt has equipped the AR2 with some nice components at two of the three contact points: a Prologo Zero II T2.0 saddle, 3T Aeronova Team Stealth carbon fibre handlebars and a 3T ARX II Team Stealth stem. The saddle is on the firmer side and requires a fair amount of getting used to, but given time, the saddle did become more user-friendly. Bearing in mind saddles are a very individual fit, so when choosing your bike you might request a different size than the 143mm width that is standard on the bike.
One of the many highlights of this bike are the 3T Aeronova handlebars. They are ingeniously designed with multiple hand positions from a very comfortable upright riding position with your hands on the top section of the bars to a very aero aggressive riding position with your hands either on the hoods or the drops. The concave shape of the top of the bar just before the bar bends around to the drops provides a comfortable position for the wrists when holding the hoods in a more aero position. In my view, they are one of the best looking handlebars on the market and as their name suggests, they add the ‘stealth’ factor to the AR2.
The 3T stem complements the bars and provides an intuitive connection between the cockpit and the rest of the bike. As you would expect from a product that is frequently used by pro-level sprinters, the 3T stem is very stiff, and it provides good feedback when you are descending and cornering at speed.
The Felt AR2 was in its element feeling fast and responsive on flat and undulating surfaces, and winding the bike up produces such a good response it encourages you to push even more. Adding to the frame’s feedback the aero bars really let you get in a position to maximise this aspect of the Felt’s performance.
I didn’t take the AR2 in any road races or crits, but Saturday rides with my bunch always incur a few sprint points along the way. The stiffness of the frame and responsive of the front end of the bike is an obvious advantage in this type of contest.
The Felt AR range tops out with the very exclusive AR FRD and the AR1 w/SRAM Red eTAP, and while this may be a very tempting option and the only choice for some, the Felt AR2 provides an extremely compelling argument too. It sports the same frame quality, albeit with an extra 100g, a very precise and reliable groupset in the Shimano Ultegra Di2, a set of Fulcrum aero road wheels that didn’t skip a beat, and an overall ride quality that many higher end bikes could only aspire to, and all this for a fraction of the cost.
Folks planning a new bike purchase from the aero frame ranks would do well to take a closer look at this bike.
The frame build quality of the AR2 is exceptional and Felt has matched this up with a suite of suitably functional components. The frame’s matte finish and livery are stylishly done, and enhance its quality feel.
The Felt AR2 is almost an all round performer. It is exceptional on fast flat terrain, loves undulations and is easy to handle in windy conditions. It does get slightly exposed on longer climbs where the rider is required to sit in the saddle for long periods of time.
The Felt AR2 frame and fork offers a premium build quality, stylish design and a well spec’d machine that requires serious consideration for buyers in this market.
The AR2 has been pleasantly surprising. The thought of riding an aero road bike day in and day out used to be somewhat daunting. However, over the course of this review the Felt AR2 declared itself as a versatile bike that can handle all conditions, and be great fun to ride!
Frame: Felt AR2 56cm
Fork: Felt AR2
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
Front Derailleur: Ultegra Di2
Rear Derailleur: Ultegra Di2
Crank: Ultegra 172.5 52/36
Cassette: Ultegra 6800 11-28
Wheels: Fulcrum Racing Quattro
Tyres: Continental GP4000S II
Handlebars: 3T Aeronova Team Stealth Carbon fibre
Stem: 3T ARX II Team Stealth Stem
Saddle: Prologo Zero II T2.0
Chain: Ultegra 6800
Front Brake: Ultegra 6800
Rear Brake: Ultegra Direct Mount