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Lowdown: Chapter2 Tere
Chapter2 is a new company started by Mike Pryde out of New Zealand. Previously Mike was responsible for launching the bicycle product line for the Neil Pryde group (his father's namesake). Neil Pryde is based in Hong Kong; they got their start making sails and then, later, carbon fiber masts (and other equipment) for Windsurfing. Mike leveraged their early expertise in carbon fiber engineering and manufacturing and led the development of Neil Pryde Bikes in 2010. They were immediately successful and won many international design awards and sponsored the United Health Care Pro Cycling team. More recently, Mike has since gone out on his own, creating a new brand of bikes designed in New Zealand. He fittingly calls the new endeavor "Chapter 2". With respect to the model name, "Tere" means swift and fast in Maori; the Maori are indigenous people of New Zealand.
Mike's passion is to build bikes that inspire him.
Mike's business model is to sell just the frame and let the customer pick and choose their dream component group. Given how the Internet has disrupted the cycling industry, this is likely a good strategy. You can order the frame direct and have your local bike shop build it up as you wish, a win-win for frame-maker, retailer, and customer. This said, he does have distribution partners/retailers so you can order the frame more locally and have it built to your suiting. This bike came from one of his partners, Glorycycles, which is located in Greenville, South Carolina.
The bike was expertly packed and I had it unboxed and ready to ride in less than an hour (59 minutes to be exact!). Most of the work was simply removing the protective foam and padding but there was very little assembly required, a welcome relief compared to most bikes I've tested. The unpacking experience is what a new buyer would experience.
The frame design is called "Compact-Aero" and features Kamm-Tail shaping behind the head tube, seat tube and seat post. Kamm-Tail is essentially a truncated wind foil shape. Traditional round tubes are very strong but not very aero. Wind foil or tear-dropped shapes are much more aerodynamic but aren't as strong. The Kamm-Tail design is both strong as well as aerodynamic. Additionally, the bike is beautifully finished with a cool combination of matte and gloss paint.
The bike was equipped with top-of-the-line Campy components; H11 is their disc-brake specific component set that includes the crank, rotors, calipers and brakes/shifters. The calipers and rotors are stunning looking. The bike was rounded out with Super Record front and rear derailleurs which look almost jewel-like carbon-fiber masterpieces. Interestingly, the front derailleur is trimmable with a surprisingly wide range of motion. The brake hoods feel incredible - an ergonomic triumph. The cockpit includes a Chapter2 branded aluminum stem that is very nicely finished and Fizik Cyrano alloy bars. I thought carbon bars would be more in line with the rest of the build but the shape was super comfortable. And who ever did the bar-tape job deserves a raise; just flawless.
The wheelset is from another New Zealand-based company, Foil. The rims are 38mm tall and the are very wide at 26mm external/19mm internal. They feature exceptional DT Swiss 350 hubs and really interesting through axles. They are made by The Robert Axle Project and are truly minimalist in design - the front axle weighs only 28 grams. Just make sure you carry a 6mm allen wrench if you get a flat. The wheelset is finished with super comfortable and smooth Vittoria Corsa tires that are 700x25 though they appear much wider due to the wide rim width.
Rounding out the bike spec is a beautifully finished Fizik Aliante saddle. I've written before how this is likely the most comfortable saddle ever - for commuting. This said, for more active riding, if you like to move around on the saddle, it may not be right for you. This is because of it's unique shape; you tend to sit “in” the saddle rather than “on” it. Also, because the rear end slopes up dramatically, sliding back raises the distance to the pedal which can lead to knee discomfort. Rather than clouding the review with the saddle choice, I replaced it with my "go to", the Fizik Antares. The Antares has a flatter profile that makes it easier to move around.
So how did it ride?
I was really excited to ride the bike with it's really impressive component group and it did not disappoint. The bike is remarkbly smooth and the tallish head tube improves comfort. The silent hubs enhance the smooth feeling. And the Campy shifts crack off sharply with precision. The bike feels extremely solid and bulletproof. It is a sharp contrast to my daily ride, a 2011 Cervelo S3 that seems almost fragile in comparison.
However, based on my experience riding aero road bikes, I was a bit skeptical about it's climbing ability. While fast in a straight line and hammering on the flats, aero road bikes I've riden aren't really suited for climbing. They seem to have a sort of mushiness in the rear end under power on climbs. Well the Tere was not like that! In fact, the bike felt very responsive and connected while climbing. Perhaps it was due to the massive tubes and through-axle wheelset because I didn't detect any flex even under hard uphill accelerations.
Overall the bike was very responsive and you could tell every bit of effort was getting translated to forward motion. Yet somehow the bike is also extremely comfortable. If I had to sum it up I'd call it versatile. I managed to set a few Strava PRs including a 2 mile segment which involves a winding descent followed immediately by a grind of a climb which demonstrates this versatility. This bike would be perfect for longer rides like Gran Fondos, just as Mike envisioned.
But don't just take my word for it. As with a recent review, I loaned out the bike to a friend of mine to get another perspective. He is an All-American triathlete and has exceptional bike handling skills. He loves descending fast (unlike me!). His words:
"After stopping several times to adjust the seat position, I was finally able to get a better fit. When I did, the bike performed very well. It's snappy and responsive during climbs with no noticeable feedback from the bottom bracket...translating 100% of the energy put into the cranks resulting in watts and speed. In fact, even with the inexact fit, and not having ridden outside in 4 months, I was able to PR up Hwy 9 [5.5 mile climb that averages 6%]! Now that's saying something. But where the bike really shined was descending. It was effortless, even at 40+ mph. Stable, subtle, and smooth, even at high speeds."
Pretty heady praise indeed!
As an additional note, I do want to mention that this was my first experience with disc brakes on a road bike. Frankly I'm still not really sold on disc brakes as I'm a weight-weenie at heart [and I think disc brakes add unnecessary weight and complexity] but I get that this is where the industry is firmly headed. I found the braking to be excellent and I do admit it improved confidence a bit while descending. However, the feel is different. Disc brakes are mounted much lower on the fork than rim brakes. This means that when you grab the front brake, there is more "play" in the front end vs rim brakes. This is because the lower position of the disc brake gives more leverage against the fork and wheel. In fact, I measured 10mm of front end play (measured from the handlebars) when holding just the front brake and pushing the bike forward. In comparison, my rim-brake bike pushed just 5mm. This effect gives the feeling that the headset is loose. It's not a bad thing, just an observation on the difference between disc and rim brakes.
Overall, the bike was very impressive. It's a unique bike with a spectacular finish and exteremely versatile ride quality. Coupled with the ability to truly customize the part spec means you can really build your dream bike on this fundamentally solid and competent frame.
Please include this video as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyFaNY6TxSY