The Huru is the latest offering from burgeoning Kiwi brand Chapter2. Translating to ‘feather’ or ‘rising’ in Te Reo, the Huru joins Tere and Rere in the expanding arsenal of Kiwi designed bikes and boasts a lightweight frame designed to challenge the best climbing bikes on the market.
The frame, weighing a mere 790 grams, is adorned with graphics synonymous with the sleek design of Chapter2’s range and pays tribute to Mt Ruapehu on the top tube. The topography of the North Island’s tallest mountain is laid out in detail and acts as a constant reminder of what Huru is designed for.
As with all Chapter2 bikes the frame comes independent of any componentry. The Huru I was given was kitted out with SRAM Red and Wheelworks 20mm carbon clincher wheels. One of my favourite pieces of engineering from Chapter2, the Mana one-piece carbon bar and stem, finished off the front end of the bike and the two bolt Tumu seat post rounded it off in appropriately lightweight fashion. My initial thoughts were drawn to the tube profile which seemed to have adopted a more all-rounder geometry compared to the aero Rere. The seat stays rise to meet the frame at the same point as the top tube but still look sleek. The head tube is naturally narrower to accommodate the lightweight advantages of the frame. The fork looks sleek and accommodates direct mount aero rim brakes that ensure any stopping can be done in a hurry should it need to be. As I inspected the bike I noticed that even the seat was made out of carbon. I really was going to have no excuse for poor uphill performance on this slick climbing machine.
Before heading out in the early hours of an autumnal Saturday morning I decided to weigh the set up myself. My unofficial weigh in had the bike at a shade under 6.4kg complete with pedals, bottle cages and a set of lights. This is a cool 2.1kg lighter than the 2010 Giant TCR Advanced 2 I’m used to lumbering up the Waitakeres. As the rain poured down around me the Huru leapt out of the blocks and accelerated with ease with minimal effort. The low weight was immediately noticeable with each acceleration. By the time I was out in the foothills of Auckland’s ranges I was excited by the prospect of the road turning up. I looked down to the top tube and reminded myself of what the bikes was good at. At the base of West Coast Road, I accelerated sharply and stomped on the pedals with the determination that the Huru commanded. My breath started to labour as I threw the bike into the sharp corners at speeds that were higher than what I was used to. The Huru was in its element.
What impressed me most about the Huru wasn’t the low weight as it flew up the side of the mountain but the stiffness with which the power was transferred. So often road bikes compromise stiffness for weight in the quest to defy gravity. The bottom bracket, moulded from directional 3k carbon, hardly flexed a wink as I pushed hard through the pedals. The head tube, made from the same material, offered little flex as well. The remainder of the frame is made from T1000 Toray carbon and is formed to create smooth continuity between these focal areas of stiffness. Standing up to sprint to the top of the climb I really wrenched the bike from side to side, almost dizzy from lack of air to the muscles. The bike accelerated furiously and flew across the crest of the climb.
The Huru is clearly a bike meant for speed. At a real weight of just under 6.4kg it’s not breaking any records like the Trek Emonda or the Merida Scultura, both coming in close to 5kg flat. It’s clear, however, as technology progresses and our understanding of carbon fibre matures, that weight isn’t everything. The Huru is light enough to be a very competitive climbing bike. The geometry supports the rider and provides an incredibly comfortable and compliant platform. I also didn’t feel unsafe on descents. The bike had stability despite being so light. I was able to throw it into corners comfortably and it seemed to be glued to the ground. Personally I don’t enjoy going much lighter than Huru as bikes in the super-light category tend to feel fragile and, quite frankly, rather sketchy on descents.
The Huru is a beast when the gradients kick up. The manufacturers have given close attention to all aspects of the frame to ensure that it isn’t just a featherweight piece of carbon fibre. It’s stiff, compliant, and aggressive. I do feel, however, that to compete with the pure climbing bikes it needs to be lighter. Huru is comparable to the S-Works Tarmac for weight yet the Tarmac claims to be a pure all rounder, a position the Tere is occupying in the Chapter2 Range. To compare the Huru to some of the lightweight superbikes on the market brings the extra weight into focus. Anyone wanting to buy the lightest bike on the market may be put off by the fact that it is on the heavier side of a pure climbing bike. For me this is more than compensated for by the stiffness of the frame and the way the bike accelerates. There is no flex in the bottom bracket. The power transfer is phenomenal and the acceleration eye watering. It’s a bike that takes into account more than just weight when climbing. Stiffness, often overlooked in a climbing bike, should not be underestimated for the performance boost it gives one on a climb. For most riders the extra weight can just as easily be removed from the waistline instead of looking for a few extra grams from the frame which may result in performance compromises elsewhere. The Huru is a great piece of engineering and a scintillating first generation climbing bike from Chapter2. It’s going to be exciting to witness the development of this range over time.
Words & Images: Freddie Gillies and Cameron Mackenzie
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