Felt DA4 review

Stress-free speedster

BikeRadar score3/5

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. 

The felt da4 responds better to carrots than sticks: the felt da4 responds better to carrots than sticks
The felt da4 responds better to carrots than sticks: the felt da4 responds better to carrots than sticks

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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