Last July, my then 13-year-old son Henri and I enjoyed a fun night ride, which he blogged about later that evening. As the year progressed, he asked me about fixed-gear bikes. His mother rides hers daily to the coffee shop she manages, and I use mine for all my errands. After Interbike, he asked about the 2009 Felt Curbside, which reminded him of the Gaansari bikes we sold in Ohio. Henri rides every day, so I asked Felt to provide a 56cm Curbside for his review, which follows. Look for a complete review of the same model by our brethren at Cycling Plus in the February 2009 issue, to be published on BikeRadar.com in the coming weeks. Gary Boulanger, US editor
Right out of the box, the US$729 Felt Curbside brought a smile to my face with its sky/powder blue frame and fork, complemented by its bling: golden hubs, headset and pedals. I quickly noticed the white-and-brown patterned 'nad-pad on the top tube to protect the goods (which matched the seat). This is a good-looking bike, but the eternal question resides: how does it ride?
Apart from its color palette, the Curbside has another defining feature: its handlebars, which are thick, 31.8mm constant diameter. This handlebar - affectionately named the Meatstick - serves its purpose well. Offering nigh on complete control and showing off its leather bar tape, the Meatstick is a character in itself. Perfectly straight, you may think of this as one of the most non-ergonomic bars on the market. Surprisingly, even after hours of riding, there isn’t much strain on the hands or wrists. The Meatstick is also painted the beautiful sky/powder blue, which can be a bummer, owing to its tendency to chip if handled too roughly.
The hydro-formed aluminium frame is a Felt trademark, and the dorsal-shaped top tube is unfortunately covered by the 'nad pad. Brown deep-section rims add to the style of the bike, while stiffening the handling a touch. My 56cm sample weighed a hair over 18 pounds.
Versatility you can use
The Curbside also is built with fittings for front and rear mudguards, a must in the rainy days. Another valuable feature on this bike is the flip-flop rear hub, which allows the rider to choose between riding either fixed gear or freewheel, using the same wheel. A handy axle nut tool comes attached to the seat tube, with wingnuts for easy access. The tool may seem like a decoration on first sight, but at first test, you realize how valuable it really is. Long day of biking? Decided it isn’t so wimpy to crave the joy of coasting a little bit on the long road home? Me too. Using the tool is relatively easy as well, though it is highly recommended that you get some tips on keeping the chain tension when you switch from boast to coast.
The 39x16 gear is a good one, and won’t give much trouble to the legs to power this vehicle, even up hills. Yes, there are brakes, and you can take them off if you’d like.
Pretty pedals that need replacing
The only negative beef I have are with the pedals. Pretty, yes, but the way the old-school toe-clip-and-strap pedal is built around the middle shaft results in a top-heavy structure that flips itself upside down. These pedals are one sided, with a specific platform on one side, the other not so suitable for pedaling. What would have been so much more useful would be the generic, ever steady rubber block hardware store pedals, much like the specialty pedals like those found on the Specialized Globe Centrum and the Trek Soho 4.0.
All in all, the Felt Curbside is a good ride with lots of control and balance, colours and tools and patterns that are fun to look at, and a relatively inexpensive pricetag. Check it out officially here.