In our modern era of cycling that sees superlatives and hyperboles bandied about like so many pedal strokes on the weekend group ride, proclaiming that the all-new AR is our best road bike ever is not something we take lightly. Since its release over 10 years ago, the first-generation AR emerged as the earliest true aero road bike, one that united classical drop-bar manners with a level of aerodynamic efficiency gleaned from over two decades of developing the world’s winningest time trial bikes and triathlon rigs. Its successor, the most recent iteration of the AR, broke the mold upon its release in 2014 in terms of what a carbon fiber road bike could offer both professional racers and dedicated enthusiasts, alike. It has, to this day, continued to retain its position near the top of the heap amidst a slew of contemporary bikes in aerodynamic tests conducted by both competing brands and neutral data-gathering experts. But, progress waits for no cyclist. So it was time to create something new, something unique, and something that would proudly carry on the iconic AR marque. So how did we set about improving upon an already fantastic bike with exceptional handling, a sublime ride quality, and a level of aerodynamic efficiency that rivaled every other bike that came after it?
We began by looking at the world around us, and into the future where bicycle technology is headed. One of the most significant milestones that bicycle manufacturers have collectively achieved in the past few years has been the advent of disc brakes for drop-bar bicycles. Case in point, they’re now a mainstay on our lightweight, all-around road bike model, our cyclocross race bike, and even our flagship triathlon model—all of which have won world championships in recent seasons. So we knew that the next-generation bike would have disc brakes. Next came the matter of aerodynamic progression. But how could we improve upon an already fast bike, and combat the inherent drag effects of disc brakes, to boot?
Using the most advanced computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software in the industry, our engineers initiated the most taxing development process in our history, creating hundreds of virtual permutations of new airfoil shapes and designs, and then rigorously tested their merits over the course of several years. Their holistic process of looking at the complete puzzle of bicycle speed and rider performance is one that appropriately weighs both a bike’s ability to cut through the wind and utilize every single watt of its rider’s power, while also elevating the rider’s handling ability and mitigating his or her fatigue level. In other words, it’s how you create the world’s fastest bike. Wind tunnel testing and rapid-prototyping came next, all in the spirit of validating, and improving upon, what our mad scientists cooked up. The result? The new AR is 9% faster than its predecessor. Yeah, that’s fast. But it also handles better, rides smoother, and retains real-world useability.
While we set out to improve upon the previous-generation AR’s category-defining aerodynamic efficiency, we also placed upon ourselves an additional constraint: The newest AR should continue to be the best bike with which to not only ride, race, and win, but also with which to live. Because most of us do not have a world-class mechanic at our beck and call, we knew from the outset that the AR would have a traditional front end, with a separate handlebar and stem configuration, and without a fully integrated cable routing system. So we designed a brand-new and unique cockpit system, one that helps the bike corner like a dream with a light steering feel and a firmly planted sensation that makes you feel as is the AR can read your mind. We also updated the renowned seatpost design that we pioneered for the previous-generation AR. Its unique shape was fine-tuned by our engineering team as part of the complete airfoil project, but it still features the signature split design that increases overall rider comfort. We also created a co-molded rubber insert that lives within the junction of the seatpost and seat tube, giving the entire interface added compliance. All told, the new AR’s seatpost provides 112% more flex than the seatpost of the previous-generation AR, and a whopping 63% more flex than a traditional, round 27.2mm seatpost. Who says an aero bike can’t be comfortable?
Bikes that are part of the AR | Advanced line are crafted from several unique types of carbon fibers. UHC (“Ultra Hybrid Carbon”) Advanced fiber is high-modulus, meaning that it’s incredibly stiff to maximize pedaling efficiency and handling feedback. But it’s not quite as stiff as its more expensive sibling, UHC Ultimate (which is found on the AR FRD | Ultimate models). However, this makes the UHC Advanced carbon a better option for most cyclists, as it helps yield a slightly more supple chassis to mitigate road feedback and suppress rider fatigue towards the end of a long road race. TeXtreme is another type of carbon that is not only found on our best-performing framesets, but is also utilized in the aerospace industry and on Formula One race cars to both add strength to a structure, as well as reduce its weight relative to alternative composite options.
It used to be that, in order to gain an aero advantage, you had to sacrifice comfort, handling, useability, or some combination thereof. But times change. The AR isn’t just faster than our fastest road bike ever. It’s better, in every way.