Felt’s road line-up for 2016 sees the launch of a redesigned Fx cyclocross range; a larger ZW women’s range and a globally available Tk track range. There’s also the V-series adventure bikes we’ve already covered as well as the company’s aero road AR and IA / B-series TT bikes.
The Californian brand is transitioning to a ‘living line’ format, which means no more model year overhauls. Instead, each bike continues production uninterrupted until completely redesigned or a major update in components. There’s also Felt’s literally edgier new logo to spot on those new or redesigned bikes.
Here’s a round up of each range including specs and provisional UK pricing. We’ll add international pricing as we get it.
F road series
The f-range remains reassuringly traditional and race orientated:
Felt remains a racing-focused company drawing on years of experience at the sport’s highest levels and the F-series bikes are the brand’s true race machines. The F1 is Felt’s most popular bike with professional riders and their feedback since its introduction in 1991 has helped to develop it into what Felt road brand manager Dave Koesel calls “the highest stiffness to weight ratio on the market today”.
The bikes have traditional horizontal top tube geometry and the top-end TeXtreme frame found in the pro’s F FRD bike is claimed to be less than 700g.
This low weight is achieved by Felt’s mixing of UHC Ultimate carbon and TeXtreme, an advanced material used in Formula One that’s lighter, stronger and far more expensive than carbon. It’s a material that only Felt is using in bike manufacturing – and means lightness and strength needn’t be mutually exclusive.
Weight is lowered further still thanks to Felt’s InsideOut frame construction process, which all but eliminates waste product from inside the frame. The bikes have also undergone FEA testing in order to establish where the frame is most stressed under load, allowing Felt to compensate in the lay-up process for optimum stiffness.
It’s also worth noting that Felt continues to lay carbon up differently depending on frame size in order to benefit each different version of all its road bikes.
Going forward, Felt is looking to develop its F-series bikes with disc brake options to meet widespread usage in the pro peloton should the UCI’s rule change go through as expected. The brand is also investigating the potential for a women-specific FW line, which, like all Felt’s women’s bikes, would use different carbon lay-ups and component specifications best suited to provide women with the levels of comfort and strength typically needed by female riders.
Felt hasn’t forgotten the children’s market either: there’s the F95 Jr. and F24 bikes for youngsters, both with alloy frames.
F2 – UHC Advanced, TeXtreme frame; UHC Ultimate, TeXtreme fork; Shimano Ultegra Di2 group; 52/36t crankset; Fulcrum Racing 5 LG wheels; Schwalbe One HS 448 tyres – £3,799
The f4x uses textreme in the frame and fork for light weight without sacrificing the strength needed for cx racing:
While some cyclocross bikes compromise on geometry in exchange for do-it-all versatility, Felt has the V-series for that. This means the brand’s Fx range, first seen at the Sea Otter Classic, is all about racing competition, whether you choose a carbon or alloy version.
The newly redesigned carbon bikes (F2x, F3x, F4x) feature a wide PressFit BB386 bottom bracket that has allowed Felt to increase rear tyre clearance. The frame has internal cabling and a ‘shoulder friendly’ top tube. The F3x and F4x frames and fork use a carbon and TeXtreme blend that together weigh just 1,240g – the lightest on the market according to Felt.
Tubeless ready wheels are secured by thru-axles – 15mm front, 12mm rear – while rotor size depends on Shimano / SRAM spec.
The alloy bikes use the brand’s FLite custom butted 6061 aluminium but are still very much racing machines, and haven’t been “dumbed down,” as Koesel puts it.
F95x – FLite Custom Butted 6061 alloy frame; UHC Advanced carbon fork; Shimano Sora group; 46/34t crankset; Felt CxR wheels; mini v-brakes; Schwalbe Rapid Rob tyres – £799
AR aero road series
Felt’s ar frame hasn’t changed – according to felt, it’s still has industry-leading aerodynamics:
The new AR was launched in 2013 and, according to Koesel, is built using techniques and technology that it “wouldn’t have been even five years ago”.
The aero road bike is now a widely accepted road platform, usurping the place of the traditional road bike in many a manufacturer’s range. Felt was one of the first brands to push aerodynamics in its road designs, dabbling with optimisation of rider position to reduce drag in the run-up to the 2000 Olympics.
The original AR appeared under Team Slipstream riders at the 2008 Tour de France, offering the team a claimed 10 per cent drag reduction.
Stiffness and ride quality increases were Felt’s primary focus on the redesign, which drew on CFD and wind tunnel development to produce a slick, but stiff performance frame. Felt’s testing in the San Diego wind tunnel showed the old AR is on a par with current offerings from other brands, while the newer version is still ahead of the competition.
The rear brake was moved under the chainstays, reducing dirty air around the rear wheel, while the flip-able low modulus carbon seatpost is designed to be more comfortable than any other aero bike on the market. It also offers a 72.5 to 78.5 seat angle.
Headline figures for the new AR versus the older model are that it’s 38 percent stiffer, 19 percent lighter and 35 percent faster.
While only the AR FRD, AR1 and AR2 use TeXtreme in their construction for that ultra-light weight, Koesel is keen to stress that the frame is the same shape throughout the range. “All the bikes have the same aero qualities regardless of price point. Anytime you’re riding in air, you’ll go faster on an AR.”
AR FRD – UHC Ultimate, TeXtreme frame and fork; Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 group; 52/36t crankset with Pioneer power meter; Zipp 404 Firestrike wheels; Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tyres – £TBC
AR1 – UHC Advanced, TeXtreme frame; UHC Ultimate, TeXtreme fork; Shimano Dura-Ace mechanical group; 52/36t Rotor Flow crankset; Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels; Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tyres – £5,450
AR2 – UHC Advanced, TeXtreme frame and fork; Shimano Ultegra Di2 group; 52/36t crankset; Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels; Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tyres – £3,899
AR3 – UHC Performance frame and fork; Shimano Ultegra mechanical group; 52/36t crankset; Shimano RS31 wheels; Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tyres – £2,499
AR5 – UHC Performance frame and fork; Shimano 105 mechanical group; 52/36t crankset; Felt Aero R3 wheels; Continental Grand Prix 4000 S II tyres – £1,999
Z endurance road series
The z85 disc has a sora groupset with cable actuated discs:
The Z-series may sit in the brand’s endurance range and prioritise compliance, but it’s still the chosen frame platform for a selection of Felt’s pro riders and has been ridden in Olympic and Tour de France competition. As such, Felt’s keen to stress that these bikes aren’t just for novices or those wanting a sportive / gran fondo friendly ride.
The profiled ControlTaper head tube has a different sized cross section depending on frame size in order to best dissipate road buzz – in tandem with the similarly ridged fork – while maintaining stiffness even when pulling hard out the saddle.
As noted in our Felt Z4 disc review, the VariableAngle stem offers six positioning options, which together with the supplied spacers and 4.5mm headset cover means a low racy position is just as attainable as a tall comfy one for spinning up hills.
The zw4 disc has cable actuated hydraulic discs that offer better braking than regular cable-pull types:
The ZW FitWoman range is currently Felt’s only female-specific road platform, with both carbon and cost friendly alloy bikes in the line-up.
Unlike most brands Felt isn’t content with using smaller frames, narrower bars, shorter stems and pink detailing to court female riders (okay, there is some pink detailing in there). Instead the bikes use proportional tube sizes and (for the carbon models) a completely different lay-up in order to rebalance the stiffness / compliance equation for female riders. Equipment selections such as wheels with lighter gauge spokes also add to the specificity of this extensive range.
Felt’s top-end ia triathlon bike has a paint-only overhaul for 2016:
Like the AR, Felt’s top-end IA line-up remains unchanged for 2016. The ‘Integrated Aero’ bike was revealed in late 2013 with the promise of industry-leading aerodynamics that actually create lift, causing a sail effect that helps to propel riders forward in certain conditions.
Totally UCI-illegal, the bike features deep tubes, shrouded brakes, low mounted seatstays, hidden compartments and proprietary bars with no wires on show at all. The IA has helped Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae to two Ironman World Championships, while the bike even scored first and second positions in last year’s women’s race.
Felt’s UCI-legal range remains available to consumers in the form of the B-series. Based on the World Tour proven DA shape, the B bikes offer more traditional tubing and components than the IA, and cheaper price points. The bikes also allow 115mm of stack adjustment for a wide fitting range as well as frame sizes from 47 to 61cm, the smallest offering 650c wheels.
The tk3 is an affordable track bike that some scallywags use on the streets:
The Tk is Felt’s pure track bike. No brakes, just fixed-gear fun. For the first time, the bike is available internationally in three models. There’s also a 650c version of the Tk3 that comes in a 43cm frame designed to get youngsters onto the track at an early age.