Chapter2 Rere frameset review
Rere is a Maori word that means “to flow”, and for Michael Pryde, it was the perfect name for his new aero road chassis. It is the second frameset for his growing brand, Chapter2, which was founded on a devotion for creating fast bikes for racers and performance-oriented riders. Pryde set out to minimise the aerodynamic drag of every exposed surface of the Rere, and even created a sleek carbon cockpit that complements the performance of the new frameset.
In this review, Australian tech editor Matt Wikstrom throws a leg over the Rere to find out if the new chassis is really as fast as it looks (and it is).
- Purpose: Road racing/TT/triathlon
- Highlight: A versatile aero road frameset
- Material: Carbon fibre
- Brake type: Rim
- Key details: Aerodynamically refined frameset, direct-mount rim brakes, BB86 bottom bracket, integrated seatpost clamp, reversible seatpost, optional integrated bar/stem
- Price: Frameset, AU$3,630/US$2,699/£2,227/€2,513; Mana bar/stem, AUD$725/US$539/£454/€512 (ex. delivery)
- Weight: Frame (medium), 1,158g; uncut fork, 372g; seatpost, 194g; Mana bar/stem, 373g
It has been twelve months since Chapter2 first opened its doors for business. Chapter2 is the brainchild of Michael Pryde, who, after spending several years creating bikes for NeilPryde, left his father’s company in 2015 to start the next chapter (pun intended) in his career.
We had a look at the story behind Chapter2 when we reviewed its first offering, the Tere frameset, last year. Compared to NeilPryde, it’s a smaller and more personal endeavour for Michael, so it’s not surprising to see that his branding is infused with (and informed by) his Maori heritage. He draws on the language to name his products, and cultural design elements are used to convey the company’s mantra, “the road less travelled.”
Another aspect of Michael’s history that is reflected in Chapter2 is his passion for racing. He grew up riding BMX before racing off-road, then came road cycling, and a stint as a semi-professional. That alone is enough to account for Michael’s pre-occupation with aerodynamics, but I expect his family’s involvement with watersports encouraged his devotion to this field of science.
Chapter2’s first frameset, the Tere, sported a few aerodynamic touches and while it was designed “to eke out every aero advantage for a classic-looking frame”, Michael never considered it an aero road bike. His vision for that kind of bike was far more ambitious, which is where the new chassis, the Rere, comes in.
Aerodynamics, the UCI way
Road cyclists have long appreciated the importance of aerodynamics, but over the last couple of decades, the rise of carbon composites has ushered in a new era of zeal for cheating the wind. Once manufacturers started working with these materials, they quickly discovered that aerodynamic framesets and components could be sculpted with relative ease, and without any weight penalties, either.
This, in turn, has lead to all sorts of innovations, which attracted the scrutiny of the UCI and prompted a growing number of regulations that impose strict limits on what kind of designs are race-legal. This is nothing new for the governing body, which stepped in to outlaw fairings in 1914 and recumbents in 1934. Both designs dramatically improved the aerodynamics of a road cyclist, yet neither satisfied the spirit of the sport, which has always been contested on the grounds of athletic prowess rather than technical breakthroughs.
The UCI’s earliest regulations formally defined a race-legal road bike in terms of bottom bracket height, saddle position (relative to the bottom bracket), and the distance between the bottom bracket and the front wheel. In recent years, that definition has grown increasingly more complex with strict guidelines for the overall dimensions of each member of the frameset along with other edicts such as the “3:1” rule that limits the length of aerodynamic foils.
For designers like Michael Pryde, these regulations limit the size of the palette that they have to work with when creating an aerodynamic road bike. It also makes for a finite number of design solutions, which explains why aero road bikes share many of the same features. Nevertheless, Pryde enjoyed the challenge and he is proud of the Rere, which he believes pushes the limits of UCI regulations.
Like so many aero road bikes, the Rere depends upon airfoil profiles and Kamm tails. The down tube is the most obvious example, and it has a remarkably slender cross-section that is maintained throughout the rest of the front triangle. Yes, there is a noticeable bulge at the bottom bracket, but the overall effect is that the Rere looks like a very sharp wedge that has been honed for splitting the air before it.
The UCI is very clear about the use of fairings on a road bike, however it is still possible to achieve some “integration” of components with the frame. In the case of the Rere, part of the down tube and the seat tube has been carved away to accommodate the front and rear wheels, respectively. Similarly, much of the fork crown nestles into the down tube, the seatpost clamp is hidden in the top tube, and the direct-mount rim brake callipers form a pretty clean line with the fork legs and seat stays.
Pryde made extensive use of a wind tunnel at Auckland University during the development of the Rere. It’s an expensive and time-consuming process, but it generally achieves superior results over computer modelling alone. Benchmarking is an important part of this process, too, and while Michael wasn’t prepared to share all of the results from these tests, he can prove that the Rere is significantly more aerodynamic than the Tere, as shown in the chart below:
With an average reduction in drag of ~100g, the Rere promises a power saving of at least 10W at 40km/hr, which is in the same realm as many other aero road bikes. That’s not enough to overhaul the capabilities of any rider, but it can certainly give them an edge, which can be helped a little more with Chapter2’s optional integrated bar/stem, dubbed the Mana.
The sleek composite cockpit complements the aerodynamics of the Rere. Like other aero cockpits, the Mana pairs a foil-shaped handlebar top with a horizontal stem angle and seamless integration with the frame. Chapter2 makes no specific claims for the Mana, and there is no pre-requisite to use the Mana with the Rere; a standard threadless stem and bars can be fitted to the Rere, if desired.
Pick a colour and define your own build
Chapter2 only sells framesets, not complete bikes, which should appeal to racers looking to upgrade their current chassis or those that like to handpick the parts for every new build. Shoppers can buy direct from Chapter2 via an online shop or they can get in touch with one of the brand’s distributors or dealers, which are located in a number of countries around the world.
At this stage, there is a choice of two colours for the Rere — matte black with gloss black highlights, or matte pearl white — but in time, additional limited and special edition paint schemes will be added to Chapter2’s catalogue, just like those developed for the Tere.
As for sizing, there is a choice of five frame sizes, as shown in the table below:
Overall, the geometry of the Rere is very similar to the Tere, although the stack is 5-6mm lower, and the reach up to 2mm greater, at every frame size. The 68mm bottom bracket drop is the same for all frame sizes, as is the 405mm chainstay length, while the fork rake depends upon the size of the frame. XS and S frame sizes are paired with a fork with 53mm of rake while sizes M-XL are supplied with a fork with 43mm of rake. The resulting trail is very consistent for all but the smallest frame size.
The similarities between the Rere and Tere extends to many of the specifications for the frame, too. Thus, they both have a BB86 bottom bracket shell, tapered head tube (1.125inch upper bearing, 1.5inch lower bearing), and internal cable routing with interchangeable fittings to suit mechanical and powered derailleurs. In addition, both framesets are available with a choice of rim or disc brakes (however the disc version of the Rere won’t be available until August of this year).
The similarities end with the seatpost and rim brake mounts. Rather than a round post, the Rere makes use of a proprietary elliptical seatpost with 15mm of offset. This post is reversible, so it can be flipped to bring the saddle much closer to the bottom bracket, which should appeal to TT/triathlon riders.
In recent years, direct-mount rim brakes have become de rigueur for aero road bikes, so it’s not surprising to see that the Rere also opts for these callipers. Aside from a sleeker fit, direct mount callipers provide extra clearance so the Rere can accommodate tyres up to 28mm-wide, and won’t interfere with the wide rim profiles that have come to define the majority of aerodynamic wheelsets on the market today.
The size M Rere frame provided for this review weighed 1,158g; the uncut fork, 372g; seatpost, 194g; and the Mana bar/stem (120mm), 373g. In absolute terms, those are all pretty modest numbers, but understandable given that aerodynamic profiles generally add weight to a bike. Once assembled with a SRAM Red eTap groupset, Quarq DZero power meter, Fabric Scoop Pro Shallow saddle, and Knight Composites 50 Clincher TLA wheelset fitted with Schwalbe Pro One tubeless tyres, the bike weighed 7.19kg (15.85lb) without pedals or bottle cages, which is a pretty good result.
The value of the Rere frameset is also pretty good, which includes the frame, fork, headset, reversible seatpost, and a five-year warranty for AU$3,630/US$2,699/£2,227/€2,513. Buyers that want to add the Mana cockpit can expect to pay AUD$725/US$539/£454/€512 with a choice of five stem length/bar width combinations (80mm/400mm, 90mm/400mm, 100mm/420mm, 110mm/420mm, 120mm/440mm). Both prices are fair — even attractive — for products in this category, and should appeal to shoppers looking to update an aging race chassis.
Speed on tap
I grew up with a fascination for high-speed vehicles and sleek aircraft, but it had nothing to do with their raw power; it was their sleek beauty that excited my imagination. Science-fiction films like Tron captivated me, and I sought out books and magazines with images of fantastic machines to satisfy my eye. And from the moment I lifted the Rere out of its box, I found myself looking at it in the same way.
I wasn’t the only person to marvel at the bike while I had it for review. One onlooker called it an envelope while another admitted wryly that he couldn’t stop looking at its rear end. Michael’s quest for aerodynamic performance may have driven the design of the frame, but it also happens to look very cool and very, very fast.
I will dissect the performance of the Rere in a moment, but in short, the bike lives up to its looks. It is smooth, fast, and responsive; it’s also a thrill to ride.
One of the first things that I wonder about for any aero road bike is how stiff it will be. Racers tend to prize a stiff chassis so I can understand the temptation for any designer to dial up the stiffness in order to maximise this appeal. In this case, however, the Rere defies expectations by delivering a forgiving ride quality.
This was something that I was quick to notice and it defined the Rere for the entirety of the review period. With that said, I wouldn’t call it a plush frameset that can soak up all road shock and vibrations, but it was quite removed from a typical race bike. I was able to venture onto unpaved tracks without any teeth-chattering moments, and I could spend a few hours on the bike without having to contend with any unnecessary discomfort.
The bike was quick to accelerate and firm under load when I was out of the saddle. It wasn’t exceptional in this regard, but on the spectrum of possibilities, it was close to the sharp end where all great race bikes reside. This is the spot where carbon composites come into their own thanks to that impressive stiffness-to-weight ratio, and Chapter2 has done a great job with capitalising on the potential of this material.
What that means for the rider is an agile and sprightly bike that always seems to be full of energy. It’s the kind of bike that always motivates me to ride harder and I end up behaving like a hoon, accelerating hard while threading my way through obstacles or finding the tightest line to hold onto without scrubbing my speed.
The steering of the Rere was perfect for this kind of riding, quick and responsive without unsettling the bike. The bike was always willing to turn in and I could hold a tight line without the threat of understeer. At the same time, the Rere was stable at high speeds and very well mannered.
That didn’t change in crosswinds, either. Yes, the 50mm Knight wheels could suffer in windy conditions with sudden deflections of the front wheel, but it wasn’t anything unusual for a 50mm-deep wheelset. By contrast, the Rere frameset did not catch much wind on its own, so it was an easy bike to ride regardless of the weather conditions.
As for the speed of the bike, I was consistently impressed with how well the bike seemed to flow once I was travelling over 30km/h. This is, of course, a highly subjective impression, but it was no less tangible. Not only did it seem easier to maintain high speeds on the Rere, but the bike also seemed to take longer to lose its speed on descents. As a result, I always felt like I was flying on the Rere.
While this kind of anecdotal evidence is not going to rival results from a wind tunnel, it was a very satisfying sensation, and if I’d spent the money on the bike, then I’d have no regrets. Be that as it may, I did conduct one short test that validated my impressions: I performed a 10km tempo effort on the Rere and recorded my time; then, I repeated the effort on my Baum Corretto (which is almost devoid of aerodynamic profiles).
On the basis of my impressions, I was slower on my Baum, and I had trouble matching the top speed of the Rere without digging deeper, which is exactly what my times showed. I suffered a deficit of ~5s/km while riding my Baum and my top speeds were always slower than the Rere.
While my Baum is far from sleek, there was a difference in the tyres I was using on each bike (28c Hutchinson Sector on the Baum; 25c Schwalbe Pro One on the Chapter2), which may have had an impact on the results as well. Strictly speaking, it’s one variable that should have been controlled for this “experiment”, however the goal was to test the accuracy of my impressions rather than dissect where the losses may have occurred.
As a result, I feel very confident in my assessment of the Rere: the bike felt like it was quicker because it was actually quicker. I expect that at some point the Rere will be included in an independent wind tunnel study that will be able to put a number on its relative performance, but based on my impressions of it compared to other aero road bikes, I believe it rivals the rest of the market.
There was more to the Rere than pure speed, because it was an easy bike to take into the hills, which was quite unexpected (much like the bike’s forgiving ride quality). All of the agility that I enjoyed on flat terrain was still in evidence, and it was really quite easy to pick up the pace and attack the terrain. Add in the extra speed that the Rere had to offer on descents and it starts to look like a very potent race bike.
There was just one thing missing from the Rere: a stoutness about the front end of the bike. This may not be something that all buyers will want or need, but I’ve always been very sensitive to the way that the front end of a bike behaves. After spending a couple of decades on steel frames with small-diameter tubing, I’ve developed a distinct preference for a sturdy front triangle that displays a minimum amount of torsional movement under load.
That’s not to say that I found the front end of the Rere flimsy, because it wasn’t. The bike never felt like it was ever twisting around under me, even when I was sprinting out of the saddle. But what was really missing was a sense of connection with the front end of the bike. The amount of feedback was also diminished, and there were times when the steering response felt vague, too. With that said, I can’t say that it ever interfered with my ability to control the bike, and on the flip side, the extra torsional flexibility might have helped the compliance of the bike or minimised the amount of chatter from the front end.
The Mana bar/stem, by contrast, was very stiff, which may have accentuated the amount of flex elsewhere in the frame. I had no trouble getting comfortable with the bars, though it is worth noting that with the 70mm of reach makes the Mana much shorter than most compact bars. Had it been possible, I would have experimented with a longer stem to compensate for the reduction in reach to the drops and the hoods of the levers.
Knight’s 50 Clincher TLA wheelset was a good match for the Rere with a rim profile that was tall enough to add some speed while the overall weight was low enough to help the versatility of the bike in the hills. The quality of braking was satisfactory (the front wheel pulsed under brakes, presumably due to an uneven brake track) however the Rotor Rvolver rear hub was obnoxiously loud when freewheeling. This hub features an interesting clutch mechanism, and I’m told that some extra lube can tone down the noise it makes, but riders that prefer a quiet freehub won’t be pleased with it.
Summary and final thoughts
Michael Pryde has done an impressive job with the Rere. To start with, the frameset looks fantastic; indeed, it may be the classiest aero road bike that I’ve come across. Better yet, the Rere achieves some very sleek contours without resorting to proprietary parts (aside from the seatpost) or complicated component integration. As a result, buyers have plenty of freedom to choose the parts they want on the bike, and it is no more difficult to assemble than a typical road bike.
The stirring lines of the Rere raises expectations, and the bike manages to meet, or exceed, them with ease. The Rere feels as fast as it looks, it’s agile and responsive, and it also offers an inviting combination of sure and stable handling, a forgiving ride quality, and a well mannered disposition. In short, the Rere is a refined road bike that has been built to handle extra speed with aplomb.
While the Rere ticks a lot of boxes, including an impressive amount of versatility, it’s not a bike for everyone. It’s a race-day bike, a specialised rig best suited to riders that regularly choose to ride in the drops. It may not be quite sturdy enough for dedicated sprinters, however escape artists that like to ride alone should enjoy this bike a lot.