If it’s smooth, comfortable, aero efﬁcient and user-friendly ﬂat-land-speed that you’re after, the entry-level DA4 bike proves that Felt’s popularity is well deserved.
Ride & handling: Smooth, comfortable and easy to handle
While an instant engagement with an efﬁcient yet comfortable aero position is something we’ve come to expect from Felt, the ease with which even novice aero bike riders settled into the DA4 ride was impressive. The high-rise stem might not suit those after a seriously aggressive position but the low proﬁle Devox bars keep overall height reasonable and most of our testers weren’t far off a ﬂat-back position.
The DA4 continues Felt’s tradition of making extremely smooth and comfortable-riding frames. Where others rattle, the Felt positively glides over rough surfaces, with the rubber horn hoods and notably comfy saddle all boosting comfort levels. The narrow main tubes and slim fork blades soften the edges off even substantial potholes, deﬁnitely saving our bacon at least once when we ran straight into a big hole hidden in a ﬂood puddle while still on the extensions.
That fact that we were happy to keep tucked whatever the weather is testament to the very easygoing and friendly character of the Felt too, and even when we tested it with deep-section aero wheels it didn’t get badly out of shape in turbulent conditions. Once up to speed, the wheels and aerodynamics give a helpful tailwind effect on ﬂat courses, and it’s a great long haul-cruiser.
As is often the case, the same compliance that keeps the bike fatigue free over long distances also makes it ﬂexy when you start getting more physical with it. Stay seated and the BB30 chainset and stout chainstays transmit power okay, but out of the saddle there’s a distracting amount of ﬂex between the bars and the back end.
Wheel and frame ﬂex also mean an approximate rather than accurate attitude to cornering and line holding. Factor in the acceleration compromising weight and it all adds up to a bike where coercing rather than cracking the whip is the most efﬁcient approach.
Frame & equipment: Own-brand parts plus Vision shifters equals good value
The DA is the ﬂagship frame of Felt’s tri family, which means the DA4 comes out of the same mould as the £6,600 Nano carbon DA1 frame and uses the exact same Advanced MMC carbon chassis as the £6,200 DA2 and £3,700 DA3.
Felt were one of the ﬁrst to use a leading edge style fork, and the latest Bayonet 3 design smooths out and extends the depth of the front of the frame to slice through the air. A conventionally mounted U-brake sits on front of the straight-legged fork, which isn’t super-aero but keeps adjustment easy.
The front wheel tucks into an extensive wheelhugger cutout on the thin down tube, while the control cables insert vertically into the skinny top tube. The aero seatpost top pushes the seat forward into an aggressively steep seat angle position, while the seat clamp is a seamless insert at the top of the ﬁn seat tube, which also has a big wheelhugger cutout.
The forward curve of the seat tube bottoms onto an oversize BB30 axle block. Behind that, the seatstays are slim blades while horizontally slotted dropouts sit at the tip of the chunky chainstays, which also mount a V-brake in the dirty air under the bottom bracket. The frame is also Di2 compatible.
Yes it’s streamlined, but the frame and fork are relatively heavy and Felt’s TTR3 alloy aero wheels certainly don’t do it any weight-watching favours either. Super narrow front hub ﬂanges mean they’re pretty ﬂexible when cornering too although they deﬁnitely help sustain speed once you’ve got them rolling.
Unlike the angle adjustable stem on the DA2 we tested earlier in the year, our DA4 had a ﬁxed angle, high-rise goose-neck stem bolted onto the top of the fork and frame.
Felt’s own brand Devox cockpit features extensions embedded in the shallow base bars to keep everything relatively low (unless you want to add the optional arm rest spacers). The horns also include built in brake levers with neat rubber grip hoods for wet-weather conﬁdence.
The real surprise ﬁnd on the bars though, are the FSA/Vision Metron shifters. These look like mini brake levers, but squeezing them accesses multiple upshifts in a really smooth and intuitive way, while pressing the shifter top cap with your thumbs bangs it down into bigger gears. FSA/Vision also provide the chunky BB30 time trial chainset for churning round the Shimano Dura-Ace gears.
The close ratio 11-25T cassette means excellent cadence control on the ﬂat, but there’s no bail-out gear to help haul the hefty complete bike weight uphill. The soft-nosed Felt saddle is as good as any aftermarket seats we’ve used though, and naturally nudges you forwards into an efﬁcient open-pelvis position.