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So im looking for a little advice....

I currently ride a 2008 Felt F75 56cm. I ride about 1500 to 2000 miles a year. I had been considering upgrading to a carbon bike and then rode a friends all carbon bike and I really want one now. After looking at all of the different bike companies options I think im gonna keep it in the Felt family. I really like the look and concept of the AR series. If my budget allows it I'd like to get something with Ultegra to upgrade from the 105 that I have right now.

Unfortunetly the LBS that gives me a 10-15% discount on everything does not stock AR series but would order one for me if I so chose. They do have some F3, F4, F5's in my size that I was able to take for a test ride and I do like them but I really have my hear set on an AR series. Unfortunetly the LBS will not order a AR series without Financial commitment. After doing some research it is the same at every other bike shop in South West and North West Connecticut. Either that or if they do stock it they don't allow test rides on carbon bikes. I'm hesitant to do that however because thats a serious amount of money to just lay down if it turns out I don't like the bike.

So does anyone know of a bike shop in CT that stocks AR series bikes so that I can go see one in person. I know of R&A cycles in Brooklyn NY and they stock them but do not allow test rides of carbon bikes. I mean forgive me for not liking these kind of policies but Im not shelling out upwards of $3000 if I can't ride the bike first. You wouldn't buy a car without test driving it right?

any advice would me much apprecciated. Thanks.
 

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Well I don't know any, but even if you have to drive a couple hours or something to test ride, it would be worth it. I also would not generally buy from any bike shop that would not let you do a test ride. I know some places in the Detroit area that are not in very nice neighborhoods, and so you generally would not want to test ride one there anyway. Even so they have organized group rides and will arrange for the bike to be there for you to ride. I've never really even seen a shop that would not let you test ride a carbon bike. I took a $9,000 Madone SSL out for a spin yesterday when I went to get some valve adapters, and didn't have to fill out a form or anything. Although they probably knew who I was, but anyway most of the shops around me can't push you on to a bike fast enough.
 

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If I were you, I would use the dealer search on the Felt website to seek out every Felt dealer within, say 4-6 hour driving distance (half day one way). See if they have an AR Series in stock, and if they are willing to let you test ride it. Around here, most shops will either hold your drivers license (carry an extra piece of ID, in case you get in an accident), or will just take a copy of your drivers license. Shoot, that's usually all it takes to test drive a car!

Another possibility is the Felt Demo Truck. See if any of the shops have the Felt Demo Truck coming around. I had been looking seriously at a Cervelo until my LBS here in Kalamazoo, MI sent out an email, and posted on their website that the Felt Demo Truck was coming to town, and to stop on down and try one out, maybe even take one out on the shop sponsored ride that evening.

My wife and I stopped in and they had a very good selection of bikes to choose from, and multiple sizes in each one. F-Series (F2's), Z-Series (I think), ZW-Series, and yes, AR-Series, various Time Trial bikes, cruisers, bmx bikes, a broad sampling of the entire Felt product line.

We both ended up taking out AR2's to ride, and they were both sweet. Supple, responsive, quick. And by supple I'm trying to indicate the way it felt when crossing expansion joints, and such. I was coming off of a 1983 Trek 700 with Reynolds 531 steel. It was on the upper end of the range for Trek in 1983, and had fairly aggressive geometry (73.5 deg headtube and seatube angles), but a sport rather than race wheelbase. And I liked the way it rode. But the AR2 was a revelation. Still had the snappy acceleration I like, and was accustomed to, and sharper handling, but muted the sharper impacts that I would really feel on the Trek. Carbon Fiber is truly a wonderful thing.

After a couple of months researching bikes, searching in vain for an F-Series to ride anywhere near the right size (I needed a 54cm, but could only find 58's), and riding a Cervelo RS, a Cervelo R3, a Cannondale Six, a Cannondale Synapes, a Look 566 (at the Felt dealer in Indianapolis IN -- 4 hours away -- didn't have an F or an AR -- was in town for something else and stopped in!), and a Trek Madone 6.5, and then surviving the model year change and having a whole new design to ponder -- and not be able to find to ride, I finally ended up buying a 2011 Felt F3.

I ordered it without getting the chance to ride one, and admittedly took a huge leap of faith, and was able to order one with only 10% down. The closest I had come to getting to ride one was getting to straddle a sold 2011 F5 in the right size two days before I pulled the trigger and ordered the F3. But based on the bikes I had ridden, I knew that I liked bikes with similar geometry. I had ridden the AR2 and liked it very much. I had also discovered this forum and the inimitable Superdave. So I took the leap.

The AR-series is not as stiff as the new F-series. But both are responsive, quick, predictable, and I'd really be happy with either one. But I wanted the option of an alloy seatpost, and only the F-series offered that possibility.

Final thought: The AR-series makes for a beautiful bike. The LBS I ended up buying from will let you test ride their bikes for free. But they will also rent any bike on their floor. I guess this would be for a more extended test ride. They do, in that case, require a deposit = 80% of the MSRP of the bike. First bike shop I've ever seen with such a program. You never know, they might not be the only one.

Good luck!

-- Don4

P.S. Superdave, is there any way to communicate where the Felt Demo Truck is going to be heading next? Based on my own experience, it's stop by AEBike resulted in the sale of a Z2 AND a F3 inside of 60 days. Best bit of advertising you guys have. The bikes sell themselves.
 
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