An impressively lightweight bike with a snappy, nimble and responsive feel that provides a truly confidence-inspiring ride on all but the roughest of surfaces
- Strong purposeful frame aesthetic
- Direct and precise frame feel
- Clearance for 32mm tyres
- Compliant seatpost setup
- Excellent Mana one-piece handlebar
- Maori paint scheme might not appeal to all
- Seatpost clamp is in direct wheel spray and is tricky to access
Chapter 2 has launched a new aero road bike called the Koko, which takes much of the design from the Kiwi brand's existing best aero road bike, the Rere, and improves aerodynamics through new tube shapes, increases stiffness, larger tyres and a flip-able seat clamp that allows riders to choose the level of compliance.
Chapter 2 is a New Zealand-based frame manufacturer that produces a number of boutique road and gravel bikes for performance-oriented riders. NeilPryde Design started out working with the wind to develop windsurf and yachting sails, then his son, Mike (Pryde) turned to work against the wind taking the lead at NeilPryde Bikes which would later turn into Chapter 2.
The New Zealand and Maori roots and themes run deep through Chapter 2, channelling inspiration from the approaches and traditions of the native people and carrying out product performance testing at facilities like Auckland University’s Wind Tunnel in order to create the best road bike possible while retaining a boutique feel to each of its frames.
Chapter 2’s naming convention uses the Maori language to reflect the elements and theme of each product. Koko means “to soar, fly” in Maori, so Chapter 2 must be pretty confident the new bike is going to be quick on the road. Keep reading for a hands-on first look at the new bike.
Design and aesthetics
At first glance, the frame shape is striking, the purposeful stance immediately underpins the frame's aerodynamic aspirations. The downtube bends around the significantly tucked rear wheel, and dropped seat stays form a tight rear end to reduce surface area (and drag). The low-slung top tube follows the same design criteria keeping the front triangle size compact for a better aero profile.
The downtube is subtly scooped around the front wheel to better deliver the air from the front wheel and around the Koko’s new kammtail downtube, which matches the kammtail seat tube continued from the Rere. The fork crown extends back into the downtube to further smooth the shape for passing air from the rim's leading edge. The headtube also gets some additional moulding across the top to smoothly lead into the tapering top tube. The seat stay and seat tube junction’s shape is almost winged in the way it widens before extending around the rear wheel.
Chapter 2 has managed to navigate the integration of these features while still keeping the Koko UCI Approved.
Chapter 2 has designed this kammtail shape not only for aerodynamics but to deal with lateral stiffness loads, too. The switch from the Rere’s aerofoil downtube to a new truncated kammtail tube profile has achieved a claimed stiffness boost of 13.35 per cent around the bottom bracket and 35.64 per cent around the headtube for a more direct ride feel.
Comfort has also been added. Not only has Chapter 2 spread the frame to fit a 32mm tire, but there is also a flip-able seat clamp which offers two levels of compliance. In the normal position, Chapter 2 still promises a comfortable ride, however, the clamp can be flipped to add an extra 8.5 per cent more deflection if you are seeking even more comfort.
Chapter 2 is offering the Koko in two colour options. The Essential Collection Gloss Black option pictured here has Maori design and Turquoise details across the frame. The second colour is the Limited Edition Cobalt + Green which has been inspired by the vivid blue and green colours of the Blue Spring of the Waihou River.
Geometry-wise, the Koko shares a lot with the outgoing Rere with its 73-degree head angle and seat angle. Wheelbase, stack and reach numbers also remain close to unchanged with just 4mm being added to the Koko’s headtube. The biggest change in geometry is the 73mm bottom bracket drop; the additional 5mm drop offsets the larger volume tires.
The Koko is available in a broader selection of sizing as well with the addition of an XXS size. The XXS, XS and S sizes come with a 53mm offset fork rather than 43, which presumably has been done to help reduce toe overlap.
In terms of weight, the Koko’s 1,139g medium frame actually weighs a touch more than the same sized disc-equipped Rere. However, the 90g deficit is almost completely recovered through savings in the fork and seatpost.
The frame is compatible with both Shimano Di2 and Campagnolo EPS wired drivetrains and has a T47 bottom bracket. There are the standard mounts for two bottles within the frame, with three bosses on the downtube to allow for a lower mounted cage if you just want a single bottle.
Chapter 2 doesn't offer any complete builds, opting for the simplicity of a frame only business model so customers will need to build the bikes up how they want. Our test bike came equipped with a suitably performance-orientated build, featuring mechanical 11-speed Shimano Dura-Ace and Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels. The wheels are set up tubeless and fitted with 30mm Schwalbe Pro Ones.
It also gets Chapter 2’s Mana one-piece carbon handlebar (Mana means power in Maori) . The bar has been superb and manages to balance comfort, compliance and control very well. Its aero shape feels well proportioned and the addition of hiding all the cables helps give a cleaner aesthetic. The bar is an optional extra at a cost of £619 / $699 and is available in five sizes (80/400, 90/400, 100/420, 110/420, 120/440) and two colours.
We have only managed to fit limited time on the bike in between the recent storms that have been battering the UK but, so far, the Koko has impressed us. The frame feels very taught, with a keenness to drive forward and carry speed on both the flats and inclines.
With bikes like the Basso Diamante SV, Orbea Orca, 3T Strada and Specialized SL7, we are seeing an increasing trend from brands offering wider tyre options on go-faster race bikes. The benefits of bigger tyres are starting to make a breakthrough on the consumer side - positive early impressions of the Chapter 2 Koko means it could prove to be a worthy alternative to the mainstream frameset options, too.
Tech Specs: Chapter 2 Koko frameset
- Frame price: £3,199 / $3,549 / €3,649 / AUD$5,199
- Mana handlebar price: £619 / $699 / €699 / AUD$999
- Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M (tested), L, XL
- Colours: Black, Cobalt + Green
- Frame Weight (claimed): 1,139g Size M +/- 3 per cent
- Fork Weight (claimed): 420g Uncut +/- 3 per cent
- Seatpost Weight (claimed): 135g Size M +/- 3 per cent
- Handlebar/Stem (MANA) (claimed): 395g (100-420mm) +/- 3 per cent
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Graham has been part of the Cyclingnews team since January 2020. He has mountain biking at his core and can mostly be found bikepacking around Scotland or exploring the steep trails around the Tweed Valley. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has gained a reputation for riding fixed gear bikes both too far and often in inappropriate places.
What is a hands on review?
'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.