Felt shapes up for a seriously fast 2018

New range includes an all-new race bike pairing and a revised rear end on its distinctively light weight trail bike

Earlier this year Felt joined other cycling brands, such as Look and Time, in becoming part of the Rossignol group, and the company has clearly been busy since. This week Felt uncloaked two brand new Doctrine and Edict race models, as well as a rear-end refresh on the Decree trail bike.

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While there are a lot of new features across the bikes, the clear message is that Felt is sticking to the super light and super stiff character traits that have already brought the brand significant success in the faster, flatter areas of the MTB spectrum.

Felt Edict 2018

With a third place at the Cross-Country World Championships under Thomas Litscher recently, the original Felt Edict was still obviously a competitive machine despite being on the circuit since 2011.

Litscher came to the Felt team late in the season though and the new machine was already out in prototype form picking up prestigious results. These included a third in the Cape Epic stage race, a victory at the Roc D’Azur Marathon courtesy of Swiss rider Nicola Rohrbach, and total domination of the US epic scene as Larissa Connors’ race weapon, winning every race she’s started this season.

When I dropped the post for descents, even the steep bikes I rode were impressively controlled and on point through the sketchier sections of Lake Garda’s trails

The fact that Connors is married to Felt’s lead suspension designer Brendan Connor gives a very direct development relationship, which has birthed a distinctively stiff-tracking yet supple-riding machine, with boosted longevity features that make it ideal for epic distance races or rides.

Not that many have noticed that she’s on a new bike as the new Edict largely follows the proven layout of its predecessor, including the use of Felt’s Active Seat Stay flex rather than pivot system at the rear.

The sag behaviour of the rear stays has been altered and a RockShox Deluxe Metric shock with bearings rather than bushings on the top end makes for a more supple ride. A single-ring-specific Boost back end also gives room for 29×2.4in tyres even though the chainstays are 14mm shorter.

At 1,925g for a medium frame with shock (but not rear axle), the FRD flagship chassis is 450g lighter than the previous bike, with the more affordable Edict 1,3 and 5 using a 2,125g frame.

As well as losing a chunk of weight, a new lay-up, a broader main pivot stance and continuous fibre through the shock mount make the frames 20 percent stiffer through the rear axle and 24 percent through the head tube, according to results through the German EFBE lab. It feels seriously stiff on the trail too, with a clarity and precision that would shame a lot of trail bikes.

Per size it’s got 15mm longer reach and a 1.3-degree steeper seat angle (74.3), but the 1.5 degree slacker head angle is still very racy at 70 degrees on the FRD and 1 models which get a 100mm fork. All other models get a 120mm fork though, giving a slightly more stable 69-degree head angle.

When I dropped the post for descents, even the steep bikes I rode were impressively controlled and on point through the sketchier sections of Lake Garda’s trails. While they come with fixed posts the frames are fully internal dropper post compatible. Two bolt ISCG mounts and a threaded bottom bracket underline its extended play capability. It’s also Di2 battery/wiring and remote control shock compatible.

At 11.18kg / 24.6lb for a large bike, the Edict 1 is impressively light, but it’s definitely the precise and impressively controlled ride that separates it from the large amount of similar geometry and travel machines available so check out the first ride that’s coming soon.

  • Price: €3,199 / $3,199 / £2,699 — €9,999 / $8,999 / £8,799

Doctrine 2018

Felt’s Doctrine is an all new lightweight XC hardtail. A forgiving ride, relatively relaxed geometry and dropper compatibility means it’s not all about race day

Felt acknowledges that racers will always default to the lightest option wherever the course allows, which is where the Doctrine hardtail comes in. The new 29er line replaces the Nine range, while the 27.5in wheeled Seven bikes are dropped completely.

At 860g, the Textreme fibre FRD flagship model is 60g lighter than Felt’s previous race hardtail frame, while the standard Doctrine frame is exactly a kilogram in weight.

Steering is just the relaxed side of 70 degrees with a 100mm fork but reach is still short at 422mm on the medium 18in / 45cm frame. The Boost back end is 10mm shorter but a lack of seatstay bracing and wide BB92 bottom bracket means there’s still ISO 6mm clearance for up to 2.35-2.4in (depending on brand) 29er tyres.

Even with the standard 2.25in Schwalbe tyres fitted the Doctrine has a top note of spine-saving, traction-boosting flex that made life on the Garda trails more comfortable and confident than it would be on most race hardtails. At 9.88kg / 21.8lb for a complete Doctrine 1 in large, it’s still blisteringly quick whenever you get a chance to put a couple of pedal turns in or the trail points upwards.

Felt has also adopted the Direct Mount rear brake standard that’s normally reserved for the road. That’s because accessing the bolts from underneath the stays for adjustment is a lot easier than trying to squeeze past the seatstays, which can cost precious seconds if your brake gets knocked in a race incident.

While it comes with a skinny 27.2mm fixed post, it’s routed for an internal dropper and you can slide a Di2 battery suppository into the deep-keeled bottom bracket area.

The Doctrine is still front-derailleur compatible via a bolt-on mount and Side Swing routing, or there’s room for a 38t single ring for maxing out SRAM speed. Complete bikes will be split between global 1, 3, 5 models (single ring) and 2, 4, 6 (double ring) Shimano bikes for Europe. Interestingly, there are no alloy options on any of Felt’s full suspension bikes or its race hardtails, with metal only appearing on its more affordable hardtail range.

  • Price:  €1,699 / $1,999 / £1,499 — €4,499 / $4,999 / £3,999

Decree 2018

Felt’s Decree gets a reworked rear end to add more smoothness and more tyre space to the established superlight trail chassis

While the Doctrine and Edit are all new bikes for the 2018 season, the Decree is only half new. To be precise the front triangle is unchanged apart from a 10mm lower seat tube linkage pivot. This is to sync with the change to a trunnion-mounted, metric-sized shock, but it also allows a bit more space for dropper post insertion.

10mm is also the amount the flip chip on the seatstays lets you drop the bottom bracket height ,which corresponds to a single-degree slackening of the head angle as well.

The back end is wholly reworked, including a Boost rear axle to open up clearance to ISO standard around a 2.6in tyre on 30mm internal rims. Switching to a single-ring design removes the need for a dog leg in the driveside chainstay, making the back end stiffer.

It’s still a FAST rear end based around seatstay flex to give 140mm of rear wheel travel (fork is 150mm) but the lay-up has been tweaked to reduce the effective negative-spring preload from 10kg to 5kg.

The new trunnion-mounted shock uses bearings to reduce friction too and the Super Deluxe with extra piggyback damping chamber is standard fit. Production bikes will have proper wide bars and 30mm rims too, but the lightweight frame (2.38kg for a medium FRD with shock and all fixtures) and overall weight (12.43kg for a large Decreee 1) means it’s still very quick and responsive when you put your clog down.

Easy acceleration and altitude gain is boosted by an impressively stiff tracking performance which kept it on point down Garda’s more challenging sections, and despatched more flowing terrain double quick. Even with the piggyback shock, the FAST rear end wasn’t as comfortable on rockier, block face situations, and stay flex also caused some noticeable return rate niggles which are hard to tune out.

At a clear kilo lighter than a lot of bikes in its category it’s definitely still worth reading the first ride that’s coming soon if you’re looking for an effortlessly efficient and distinctively precise, epic-ride-shrinking trail machine.  

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  • Price: €3,199 / $2,999 / £2,890 — €9,999 / $8,999 / £8,799