Felt Z4 £2399

High-performance all-rounder

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

Felt’s Z series bikes might major on comfort, but they’ve got racing credentials too. They share construction and materials with the race-oriented F bikes, with higher front ends, longer back ends and more sloping top tubes, but the Zs have themselves found their way into the pro peloton if the occasion demands something a little more compliant.

The Z series bikes vary across the range in terms of materials and construction, but share distinctive angular looks. They’re differentiated from the F series by heavily sloped top tubes and a clear difference between the top and bottom halves of the frame. 

  • HIGHS Excellent blend of performance and comfort, and good value
  • LOWS Wide-range cassette has big jumps between gears
  • BUY IF... You want something that goes fast without beating you up 

The tapered head tube, bottom bracket and chainstays all pack plenty of material, while the top tube and seatstays are more slender. It’s largely a cosmetic feature, but we do like the integrated fork, which has a crease running up the outside of the carbon blades following through into the head tube. It’s good to see that Felt have made the Z4’s frame ready for an upgrade to Di2 too, with additional cable ports and battery bosses.

It’s almost a full Shimano house on the Felt. Shimano don't have a BB30 chainset, so drive duties are taken up by FSA’s SL-K Light. Shifting across the FSA rings isn’t quite as smooth as Shimano, but the cranks are light and stiff. 

The other non-Ultegra bit is the cassette, an all-steel Shimano 12-30 rather than Ultegra’s lightweight alloy-spidered unit. The cassette adds a bit of weight, but it’s in the middle of the wheel where it won’t do much harm. A 12-30 spread is a mixed blessing – you get wall-climbing low gears at the expense of some quite big jumps between gears in the lower half of the cassette.

Geometry is relatively steep with lively handling, and the head tube is somewhere in the middle of the length range, successfully hitting the Goldilocks ‘just right’ size – enough extra height for comfort, not so much that the front end gets vague. 

Also just right is the balance between power delivery and comfort. The frame’s high-volume backbone does something useful with your pedalling efforts – slender seatstays, a skinny carbon post, 25mm tyres and gel bar tape all contribute to an impressively smooth ride on poor surfaces.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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