At the heart of the Felt F5 is a notable frameset. The frame tips the scales at well under the kilo mark and has an impressively rigid front end thanks to its 1-1/4 to 1-1/2in tapered head tube, backed by a large junction with the top and down tubes.
The matching fork, meanwhile, is 100 percent carbon, including the dropouts and even the crown race, which keeps weight below 350g – impressively light on any bike, whatever the price. They're a truly praiseworthy combination and inevitably, to hit the keen retail price there have been compromises elsewhere.
The wheelset, for example, combines Mavic CXP22 rims with Felt’s own hubset, stainless steel spokes and mid-level Vittoria Zaffiro tyres. This is all usable and relatively hardy stuff. That said, it does somewhat dull the ride of what’s a wonderful frameset.
We love the way the Felt handles; it’s stable and assured with a measured rigidity and decent comfort levels. But when you get into a climb, the overriding feeling is that the weighty wheels and sluggish tyres are holding back a frame that really deserves much, much better.
It’s the same story with the drivetrain. While Shimano 105 is as good as anything else at this price there's no BB30 bottom bracket option, so Felt have opted for an FSA Gossamer chainset which adds a little weight. Shifting is still spot-on though, and the chainrings are free of flex.
We appreciate Felt fitting a quality carbon seatpost and a decent stem. The bars, while nicely shaped, are pretty slim and quite stiff. On longer rides we found this a little uncomfortable, but those with smaller hands may fair better.
Despite the downsides we’d still consider the F5 on our shopping list. The chassis is one of the best around, especially at this price, and with a few well judged upgrades further down the line you’ll end up with a very light, comfortable and stable-handling road bike that’s good to race on and you'll enjoy riding for years to come.
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This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.