Reviewed: Felt AR1
Felt peppered the AR1 with plenty of small but important features that helped us enjoy this bike. But it was the explosiveness that sold us, despite some shortcomings that might make it the wrong choice for racers in search of solid, quick steering. With an aggressive 988-millimeter wheelbase, the AR1 sprints incredibly well, despite 0.89 millimeters of bottom bracket deflection. We kept attacking off the front of our group test rides; it almost seemed like a wasted opportunity not to.
The Fulcrum Racing Quattro carbon wheels and surprisingly comfortable 3T integrated handlebar are some of those small but important features that help make this a great choice for bunch finishes.
But don’t take it to crits. While the AR1 is a rocket in a straight line, it’s notably flexy at the head tube. In tight, high-speed turns and during hard climbing efforts, we found ourselves fighting the front end more than we would have preferred. The head tube is tall at 160 millimeters (size 56), yet the lab data suggests it’s fairly solid with only 0.66 millimeters of total deflection. So perhaps the flex was a combination of fork, handlebar, and stem that made us feel like we were fighting flex when cornering at high speeds.
While the flex was distracting, the AR1 gets a lot right in other areas of the bike. The 70-millimeter bottom bracket drop and 410-millimeter chain stays make this a stable ride at rocket speeds. Aero tube shapes, most noticeably the seat tube, seem to reduce drag enough that this bike feels fast, and feel counts for a lot. (Note: We did not test the AR1 in the wind tunnel.)
At this price, we would have preferred Shimano Di2 shifting, even if that meant Ultegra rather than Dura-Ace. The minimal throw of Di2 shifting makes it ideal for sprinters, and this certainly feels like a sprinter’s bike. The rest of the build is quite good, including the Fulcrum Racing Quattro carbon wheelset and reversible aero seatpost that allows for numerous positioning options.
Component Highlights: Shimano Dura-Ace drivetrain with Rotor Flow NoQ 52/36 crankset and Dura-Ace 12-25 cassette; Shimano Ultegra brakes; Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheelset