The Felt S22 is an established favourite at BikeRadar, and has undergone some significant changes since we last clipped in for a test ride back in 2010. The frame is now all-aluminium having lost its carbon fibre stays, and instead of a Shimano groupset it’s swapped allegiance to SRAM, with Apex derailleurs. It also costs £200 less.
It doesn’t feel like a bike that’s been built down to a price, though. The frame transfers power efficiently however hard you lean on the pedals, and ticks all the expected wind-cheating boxes, with a skinny head tube, wheel-hugging down tube and internal cable routing.
It’s an easy bike to get comfortable on, too. Felt’s own-brand bar offers a huge range of adjustment in terms of length, elbow width and height; in fact, the extensions are so long that it’s worth cutting them down once you have your position sorted – it’s easy to catch your knees on the ends on out-of-the-saddle climbs. The arm rests may not be as well padded as Profile units but they’re more comfortable than they look.
Felt’s TTR4 wheels may match the 30mm profile of Mavic's Cosmic Elites but they’re much heavier. This means that from a standing start, the S22 takes a little longer to get up to speed than some of its rivals. On the plus side, the wheels barely flex.
Sound aerodynamics beat low weight every time when racing against the clock, and the Felt feels smooth and fast when pushing a big gear. The short 145mm head tube makes it easy to tuck in low, although spacers can lift up the arm rests for a more back-friendly position.
The Felt is rock steady at speed but changes direction quickly when needed. It’s a confidence-inspiring balance, though we’d prefer more supple, grippier tyres than the Vittoria Zaffiro Slicks fitted. Some riders will question a compact chainset on a time trial bike, but with an 11-tooth sprocket we never found ourselves in need of a higher top gear. Really strong riders on drag-strip courses may disagree.
We were glad of the 34x25t bottom gear on the steepest hill on our test route, though the weighty wheels and tyres don’t lend themselves to sprightly climbing. On broken tarmac we expected a few jolts, given the all-aluminium frame, but while it can't be described as plush, the Felt is actually quite forgiving. For short to middle distance TTs we certainly wouldn’t have any complaints.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.