Make no mistake about it, disc brakes for endurance road bikes and cyclocross rigs are coming in a big way. For 2015, Felt has a slew of disc-brake-equipped machines, from thru-axle fork models on ’cross frames to the Z2 Disc endurance road bike with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 and hydraulic R785 brakes.
Felt Z2 Disc
On the whole, bike industry brands have settled on ‘race’ and ‘endurance’ as the two primary categories of road bikes, with the latter having more upright, relaxed and longer geometry than the former. For this category, Specialized has the Roubaix, Cannondale has the Synapse, BMC has the GranFondo and Felt has the Z Series. As with others of its genre, the Z2 Disc has a relatively taller head tube (180mm on a 56cm, for example) and stable handling with 50mm of rake (the forward sweep of the fork) and a longish wheelbase (1012mm for a 56cm).
The Z2 Disc will be available at the end of this year dressed in Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 electronic drivetrain and R785 hydraulic brakes.
The Z2 Disc features 140mm post mount disc tabs
While many of the very first road bikes to use Di2 or hydraulic brakes did so by crudely strapping — or even zip-tying — external lines, most current bikes use clean internal routing. The Felt Z2 Disc even tucks the front hydraulic hose into the carbon fork, which features 140mm post mount disc tabs. (Rotor size was heavily debated in the industry for road bikes, with some early proponents arguing that 160mm was needed for stopping power.)
The Z2 Disc will be available in five sizes, from 51-61cm for US$6,199-$6,499. (UK pricing was not immediately available.)
Felt Fx Series cyclocross bikes
Felt has a whopping nine cyclocross models for 2015, with all but the least-expensive (and aluminum) F95x and the junior F24x bikes coming with disc brakes. Five of the Fx bikes will have tubeless-ready wheels. Perhaps the biggest news, though, is the fork on F2x and F3x — as with many mountain bikes these days, these two models feature thru-axles instead of the traditional quick-release axle for better torsional rigidity.
While many have acknowledged that thru-axles are a great idea on a cyclocross bike, only a few, such as Giant, have actually produced it. Felt uses a 15mm thru-axle, plus 140mm post-mount disc tabs, on its top two complete bikes. The others in the line have standard quick releases.
The F1x is Felt's top cyclocross model, but it will be sold as a frameset only. The "pistachio" colored F2x is the top complete bike, which will go for US$5,499-$5,999. As with the Z2 Disc, the F2x gets the Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain with R785 hydraulic brakes.
The colorful F2x will come in six sizes, from 47 to 60cm
The F4x will get SRAM's new CX1 one-by cyclocross group. The CX1 partial group was launched earlier this year, taking cues from SRAM's XX1 mountain bike group with a clutch derailleur that keeps the chain taut, no matter how rough the terrain. (As a plus for riders looking to upgrade a current bike, the rear derailleur and required chainring work with all 10- and 11-speed existing SRAM levers.)