Test Ride: Chapter2 Rere

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Chapter2 is the latest project from Michael Pryde, a NZ architect and former semi-professional road and MTB racer. If his name sounds a little familiar, that’s because Pryde was also the driving force behind NeilPryde Bikes, a division of the renowned sporting goods business founded by his father in the 1970s.

There are two Chapter2 road models available in Australia. The aero Rere (meaning ‘to flow’ in Maori) is the second to hit our shores, following on the heels of the more conventionally-styled Tere. Both are sold as framesets so you can personally spec your ride based on needs and budget.

 

First impressions

The review machine arrived with all the bells and whistles, boasting Zipp 454 NSW carbon clinchers, SRAM eTap shifting and fully-integrated carbon aerobars. All up, the RRP for this build is around $13,000.
Taking delivery of the Rere, the first thing you notice is the weight. More precisely, the lack of it. Claimed weight for the painted frame is just 950g and the complete bike tips my home scales at around 7kg. That’s pretty impressive for an aero build. The second thing you’ll likely notice is the carbon seat post which towers high above the top tube due to the shaping of the seat tube and rear triangle. This will probably necessitate a quick trip to the LBS to have it trimmed to size.

A refined ride

Aesthetically, the Rere looks fast. Yet its design is more refined than muscular. The elegantly slender top tube and seat stays provide the perfect case in point, as do the subtly rounded contours of the aero down tube. This actually becomes a recurring theme, as the entire Rere package delivers a fine balance between brawn and brains, style and substance.
Rigorously tested and refined in the Auckland University wind tunnel, the front end of the Rere is as compact as you’d expect. Casting an eye over the rest of the frame, aerodynamic profiles have been applied to most of the leading edges, while the seat post clamp is hidden in the top tube to further optimise airflow. Chapter2’s data suggests the combined effect of all this is a power saving of more than 10 watts at 40km/hr versus its Tere frameset.

Maori koru graphics

The artisan-esque finishing is another highlight of the Rere frameset. One of my favourite touches is the understated use of Maori koru graphics on the inside edges of the fork and chain stays, paying subtle homage to its Kiwi design roots.

The unidirectional carbon Mana aerobars (stem length ranges from 80mm-120mm; the review bike was 110mm) are relatively narrow and the horizontal angling of the stem and bars mean the most comfortable position is down in the drops.
Personally I found the hand position on the hoods a little taxing on my wrists, which wasn’t great for cruising on longer rides. Being a one-piece bar/stem cockpit you can’t really adjust it either, highlighting the importance of getting the right size from the outset. It’s also worth noting the 15mm offset elliptical seat post is fully reversible, so if you ever want to bring the saddle further forward, say for a time trial, it’s easy enough to do.

Getting a handle

Out on the road it’s hard to overemphasise just how well the Rere handles. Obedient, balanced and nimble, it’s right up there with the most precise bikes I’ve ridden. The ride is reasonably stiff but not unbearably so. From the very first kilometre, the assuredly sharp handling filled me with confidence to attack corners and manoeuvre effortlessly at speed. On subsequent rides I felt equally at home on slick, winding descents.
Given its light weight, it’s perhaps no great surprise the Rere is also more than capable when the road tilts upwards. It makes easy work of short pinches while also providing plenty of encouragement on more sustained gradients.

Dream components

Groupset-wise, the review bike is SRAM eTap all the way, although the frame is compatible with Shimano and Campagnolo. Shifting is effortless with the impressive SRAM eTap and it’s the same story when it comes to stopping. Paired with the outstanding silicon carbide brake track on the Zipp 454 NSW wheels, the SRAM S-900 direct mount brakes (compatible with tyres up to 28mm) delivered excellent stopping performance in both the dry and mildly wet conditions I encountered during the review.

This brings us to the wheels themselves. Slick, stable, smooth and light at just 1,525g for the set, these speed weapons are stunning to ride, albeit with an equally stunning price tag.
As you’d expect they accelerate like a rocket and once up to speed they hold it wonderfully well. It’s hard not to feel a little smug cruising along in bunches. The much talked about ‘humpback whale’ Sawtooth rims on the 454 NSWs have been painstakingly designed to increase stability – and they work. These wheels are super stable both in and out of the saddle. Rolling along the exposed ridgeline of the Old Pacific Highway north of Sydney there were plenty of crosswinds to deal with (not to mention a generous helping of potholes and road debris) and they coped admirably, especially for a set of rims that are anything but shallow at 53-58mm.

No ordinary wheelset

Clearly, Zipp 454 NSW clinchers are no ordinary wheels. It seemed only prudent to swap the wheels with something a little more humble. In my case, that was a well-loved set of shallow-profile climbing wheels.
The difference was certainly noticeable, but nowhere near as dramatic as I was expecting. Handling was still sharp and the ride was still pleasantly slick and smooth, which tells me there’s plenty to get excited about, even if you spec the Rere to a ‘more affordable’ level than the lavish review build. 

Summing Up

Quality
Painstakingly designed and beautifully finished using high-grade materials and components. Not the most muscular aero bike on the road, but one of the easiest on the eye.

Performance
A supremely balanced aero ride that makes you want to ride faster and faster. Rolls brilliantly, climbs confidently and handles like a dream.

Value for money
No expense has been spared with the review set-up. But the true beauty of a Chapter2 frameset is you can spec it to any level and budget.

Overall
A stunning debut aero frame that delivers elegance and speed in equal measure. Ideally suited to high performance connoisseurs who enjoy standing out from the crowd and love the idea of specifying their bike, their way.

Specs

Frameset RRP: $3,630 rim/$3,796 disc
Colours: - Matt & Gloss Black (as reviewed)
- Pearl & UD
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Frame/fork: Chapter2 Rere, T700, T800 & 3K carbon
Handlebars: Mana integrated carbon aerobar/stem (80mm-120mm)
Headset: Tapered 1-1/8” – 1.5”
Seat post: Aero carbon (15mm offset, reversible)
Saddle: Fizik Arione
Shifters: SRAM Red eTap
Front Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Brakes: SRAM S-900 direct mount rim brakes
Cassette: SRAM Red 11x28 11-Speed
Chain: SRAM Red 22 PowerChain
Crankset: SRAM Red 52-36T
Bottom Bracket: SRAM PressFit BB86
Rims: ZIPP 454 NSW carbon clinchers, 1,525g (front 690g, rear 835g)
Hubs: ZIPP Cognition
Tyres: ZIPP Tangente Course, 700x25mm

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