You may have noticed the unique and eye-catching Chapter 2 KOKO that accompanied some of our recent component reviews. The KOKO is more than a good-looking frame; it’s one fast machine and covers more than a road bike should in terms of various terrain.
For those unfamiliar with Chapter 2, let me catch you up. Chapter 2 is a New Zealand-based bike manufacturer developing premium bikes and delivering unique paint and designs.
Before Chapter 2, there was Neil Pryde, a name that I’m guessing is more familiar to most. Neil Pryde spent his early development years in the windsurf and yachting sail industry, later taking his knowledge to the cycling industry. He and his son Mike Pryde rebranded the Neil Pryde bike brand to Chapter 2 in late 2017 — starting a new chapter in bike creation and the family business.
What kind of bike is the Chapter 2 KOKO
The word “KOKO” (Te Waihou) in Maori (The indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand) means “to soar, fly,”; a very proper name for the unique frameset. When you look at it, the KOKO is hard to pigeonhole; it’s an aero bike but has adjustable compliance with a seat post elastomer. The super sculpted frameset postures towards the road race side, but the friendly/fast ride quality makes it an all-around threat.
The KOKO takes many cues from Chapter 2 Rere, but not all. The KOKO has some similar tube shapes, but the updated design makes it more aero. The design team opted for larger tire clearance and a stiffer ride. An all-new feature is a flippable seat elastomer that allows riders to dial their level of compliance for the ride.
Chapter 2 KOKO Frame Details
The KOKO is very modern in design; it boasts the latest aero features that more prominent manufacturers are only now catching up with. The KOKO has fully internal routing and is uber clean looking from top to bottom.
The bottom bracket is a T47/ 86.5mm road-width spacing. The frame is compatible with all (that we know of) shifting components, whether electronic or mechanical, single ring or double. The T47 is quickly taking the place of the PF30 bottom bracket, and it’s easy to see why. The T47 standard offers a wide range of compatibility with cranksets, less frame creaking, and is easy to maintain.
Sizing and Geometry
I opted for the large frame; the medium was a slight touch on the small side, and the large (per Chapter 2 guidance) will fit anyone measuring 5’9″ to 6’1″. That sizing spectrum is relatively standard for a large frame, and the 57cm stack with a 39.2 reach fits my proportions well. The piece that was slightly more difficult to account for was the bar/stem combo.
Most Chapter 2 bikes arrive with a very cool MANA Bar/Stem combo (typically an extra $699) that’s internally routed and dialed-in for aero gains. This type of stem is super stiff and performance-driven, but can be hard to swap out when dialing in your perfect fit.
Besides trying to find the goldilocks bar/setup, the fit was pretty spot-on. The head tube is more extensive than most, measuring a generous 16.3cm, so those looking to get a significant drop might need to look for a stem to accommodate — more on that in the ride impressions.
Chapter 2 KOKO — The build
Chapter 2 stays more on the frame side – like a boutique brand – and allows customers to select their exact specs. Our review KOKO build was dependable race ready, with Dura Ace 11-spd mechanical, Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels, Chapter 2 MANA bars, and a set of Schwalbe Pro One 30mm tires.
The build was great, not to overshadow the frame. The shifting was responsive and accurate. I spent most of my time on the Di2 Ultrage 11-speed groupset on my bike and was more than content with the mechanical Dura-Ace, especially the hood shape.
As for the wheels, there’s not much to say; the Zipp 303 Firecrest was an excellent choice for both climbing or rolling hills. The wheels performed flawlessly, accentuating the bike’s eagerness to fly on the flats.
It seems I’m always getting flats on Schwable tires, and this review bike was no different. The supplied Pro One 30mm tires had a great ride, but a small piece of glass punctured the thin casing and would not seal. I found myself swapping for a review set of the American Classic tires; they might have more rolling resistance but didn’t flat.
Chapter 2 KOKO — the ride
We had the Chapter 2 KOKO for a while, able to ride in nearly every road situation (and some off-road) that one would find on a drop bar bike. The first rides were typical for a drop bar review, the local loop, and the time/power/feel test. What was a-typical was the speed of the KOKO vs. the standard “all-arounder” road bike it replaced in our queue. Riding on the flat rolling terrain was a pleasure. The more pedaling feedback I gave, the more the bike wanted to move. I attributed this to the wheels at first, but then I hit the descents, and its stability and quick handling took me back.
From the looks of it, the KOKO has a fast-forward aero feel, almost like a straight line, and in my experience, most of these bikes can’t slice and dice corners. The shorter chainstays and wheelbase separate the KOKO from other aero bikes. The KOKO has a 40.8cm chainstay and a wheelbase of 98.4cm; this is thanks to the rear wheel being tucked slightly into the frame.
Besides the wheelbase, the frame is quiet and stable on the downhills, and the clean lines and minimal cables propel the bike with efficiency. I was excited to reach max speeds on my local twisty descent, not death gripping the bars; the bike’s steady feel calmed my tense upper body — creating more free speed.
As the days went on, I took the KOKO to more adventurous terrain; first, the rough roads with the seatpost chip flipped to the stiffer position, then opted for more compliance. The ride with the chip in the “standard” mode felt satisfactory to my body. This supple ride could be from the 30mm tires, but I feel the seatpost helped. Conditioned from years of cyclocross racing, I couldn’t feel adverse feedback from the bike.
For the gravel and pave days, I switched from my 30mm American Classic tires to 32mm Bontrager all-road tires. The tires fit nicely on the Zipp profile, and with just enough room to clear the frame without worrying about side scraping the beautiful paint. In preparation for the rough roads, I switched to the more compliant seatpost setup. At first, it felt slightly spongy, like a going flat rear tire, but that was more from the 32mm 50PSI rear tire than anything.
On the rough roads, the KOKO felt like a well-tuned gravel machine; the gravel was very tame, but gravel nonetheless. Transferring from pave to gravel to the road again, I didn’t feel like the bike performed any differently. The ride is consistent, yeah, you have to dial in the tire pressure for that road, but I felt well-equipped for all the riding.
In a world of big-name bike brands, it was nice to pull up to the local ride or race with the KOKO; it turned heads every time. The subtle paint around the fork and the unique teal color would always start conversations at the cafe stops.
Chapter 2 KOKO specs
- Frame: Chapter 2 KOKO Size L
- Seatpost: D Shaped Chapter 2
- Bar/Stem: Chapter 2 MANA 110/42cm
- Wheels: Zipp 303 Firecrest
- Tires: Schwable Pro-One
- Drive train: Dura-Ace Mechanical
- Price: $3699 (frameset only)
- Sizes available: XXS, XS, S, M, L (tested), XL
If you’re looking for a bike that sticks out (in a good way) and performs as well as it looks, the Chapter 2 KOKO should be on your shortlist. The only drawback to a boutique frame manufacturer like Chapter 2 is sometimes it’s hard to lay hands on their bikes in the US. Take our word for it, the frame composition, finishing, and attention to detail is top-notch, and the ride is beyond the capabilities of a run-of-the-mill aero-focused-road-bike.
We look forward to seeing more from the New Zealand-based brand, especially on the gravel and all roadside of development. Until then, we can safely say the Chapter 2 KOKO is one of the most inspiring bikes we’ve ridden this year. Check out more of Chapter 2 offerings at www.chapter2bikes.com.