Felt F85 review

A solid entry-level race bike

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The Felt F85 is a snappy, race-ready bike. Of the eight bikes in our “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test, the Felt has the raciest geometry, with a stiff frame and fork to reward sprint efforts and hard cornering.

If you aren’t looking to race — or to ride group rides like races — then the Felt might not be the bike for you. The hyper-responsive chassis also felt somewhat harsh when riding on rough paved sections and choppy dirt roads.

Ride and handling: Great on smooth pavement and in turns, but harsh on rough roads

We tested all our “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” on two circuits: a 2,500-vertical-foot climb up Flagstaff Mountain followed by a winding descent back down, and then a 10km dirt loop. The Felt excelled on the Flagstaff descent, tracking predictably through corners without any noticeable flex. On the dirt loop, however, the Felt’s stiffness felt a little rough.

Frame:  Race geometry in stiff aluminum

The Felt F85 has the shortest head tube in our “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test. While all the others have heat tubes of at least 170mm (for a 56cm bike), the Felt sports a race 150mm head tube. This means you can get into a very aggressive aero position.

Of course, your handlebar height isn’t fixed by your head-tube height; a combination of spacers underneath your stem, plus stem length and angle, determine bar height. However, head-tube height does determine how low you can go. If you want a very aggressive position, the KHS Flite 450, with its 190mm head tube, is not for you.

The 1,317g frame (claimed weight for a 56cm) features a butted 7005 aluminum frame, with a carbon fork that has a tapered (1.125in to 1.5in) aluminum steerer tube.

Equipment: Ready for flat speed, not long-and-easy mountain jaunts

As with all the bikes in the “Best Road Bikes Under $1,000” test, the F85 features a compact 50/34 crank (a standard crank has bigger 53/39 chain rings). But the cassette is 11-25, which is among the smallest in the test. Chain rings and cassette cogs have an inverse relationship: bigger chain rings mean more gear, more speed and more effort, while bigger cassette cogs mean a smaller gear, less speed but less effort — especially when going uphill. So, as with the geometry — the Felt is set up for race-like efforts, not long-and-easy jaunts up into the hills.

Two of the bikes in the test have 10-speed Microshift shifters; the other six have 9-speed Shimano shifters. In addition to the extra gear, the Microshift system features a somewhat unique type of shifting, with two buttons on the outside of the brake lever.

The Mavic CXP-22N wheels are decent quality, and the Shimano 105 rear derailleur is the best in this class.

This article was published by BikeRadar, the world's leading source of bike reviews, gear reviews, riding advice and route information
  • Discipline: Road, Mountain, Urban, Womens
  • Location: UK, USA, Australia

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