Felt F5 – First ride review

Revamped race-ready ride

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£1,699.99 RRP

Our review

Ultra-lightweight, race-ready and stylish – a winning combo
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California-based Felt have radically overhauled their complete range of F Series road bikes for 2011, and we were lucky enough to get our eager mitts on the F5. And what a cycling treat it turned out to be. This might be the cheapest of the carbon F Series bikes, but don’t be fooled by that comparatively modest price – this is a full on high-performance race machine. Not only that, the F5 shares the same super-lightweight frame as the £3,500 SRAM Red-equipped F3.

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And it’s that frame that has received most of the changes from 2010. It has cleaner lines than last year’s bike, and has identical profiles to the top-of-the-range F1 (a ‘mere’ £7,999); Felt claim it has identical stiffness levels too. The F5’s frame has certainly been on a weight-loss programme since last year, coming in at a tad over 900g – our 56cm test model nudged the scales at just 8.16kg (18lb).

There have been other developments too, with a move to the lighter, stiffer BB30 bottom bracket system, which is paired with a compact FSA50/34 chainset. The rest of the components are typical of bikes at this price – mainly Shimano’s well respected 105 and an own-brand seatpost, aluminium bar and stem. But what most of its big-name competitors can’t offer is a bike that weighs so little, at least not at this price. And that lack of weight is something you can really feel when you’re riding, even with the slightly ponderous wheels.

Those wheels are the inevitable compromise required to put together an 18lb bike for £1,699. Made up of Mavic’s CXP22S rims on Felt’s own hubs, the front wheel has 28 spokes laced in a radial pattern, the rear 32 in a three-cross design. They’re solid, easy to maintain wheels suitable for training, but there is a weight penalty and they feel slightly out of place on a bike of such quality. That said, when they do wear out and it’s time to replace them, you’ll be able to get lighter, faster alternatives that really do the frame justice.

Out on the road, the F5 flies. For the first time ever on our tester’s regular Wednesday evening ride to Bristol along the bike path, he wasn’t overtaken by a single rider. This was partly down to the fact that the Felt accelerates instantly and keeps going – but also that the bike feels so light it demands to be ridden at speed, encouraging you into gut-busting, eyeball-bulging efforts. Nobody’s going to get past you, wheelsuckers are history, and all that your fellow riders are going to see are your rear lights disappearing into the distance…

Overall, it’s hard to fault the Felt’s ride quality on any level. It’s extremely lively, handling is lightning quick and the bike responds instantly to any movement of the bar. And it does so without ever being uncomfortable. The move to BB30 has contributed to an improvement in stiffness and pedalling efficiency, and the frame is also stiffer than last year’s version.

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It still has a 27.2mm diameter carbon seatpost keeping your rear end from getting beaten up. Fast, efficient and comfortable? Yes on all three counts. Pretty much the ideal qualities you want in a bike for racing, fast sportives, fitness and leisure riding. We also reckon that it looks better than last year’s model too.

Product Specifications

Product

Name F5 (11)
Brand Felt

Available Colours Gloss Clear
Pedals n/a
Brake Levers Shimano 105 STI
Weight (lb) 18
Weight (kg) 8.16
Stem Felt SL 6061 Aluminum 3D Forged +/-7° Rise, Ø31.8mm Bar Clamp, custom Cr-Mo bolts, 128g, 48cm=80mm, 51cm=90mm, 54cm=100mm, 56cm=100mm, 58cm=110mm, 61cm=120mm.
Shifters Shimano 105 STI, 20-Speed
Seatpost Felt UHC Performance Carbon Fiber Design, Forged Aluminum Head, Twin Side Clamp Bolts, Ø27.2mm, 300mm
Saddle Felt SL Road Saddle w/ Carbon Fiber Injection Molded Base, Superlight Multi-Density Foam, Embossed Cover & Hollow Cr-Mo rails
Rear Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro, 700c x 23c, 60tpi
Rear Hub Felt Forged Aluminum Sealed Shimano 10, 9, or 8 speed Compatible Cassette w/ Quick Release, 32H
Rear Derailleur Shimano 105 SS Short Cage
Headset Type FSA NO.42 1.125" - 1.5" Integrated, w/ Aluminum 15mm Conical Spacer, 2 X 10mm Aluminum Headset Spacer, 1 x 5mm Aluminum Headset Spacer, Felt Aluminum Top Cap & 7075 Anodized Aluminum Bolt
Available Sizes 54 56 58 61cm 54 56 58 54 56 51 51 61cm 61cm 56 54 56 58 54 56 58 54 56 58 54 56 54 56 58 56 58 54 56 58 54 56 58 51 51 56 61cm 61cm 54 56 58 54 56 58 54 56 58 54 56 58 56 58 56 58 61cm 51 51 54 56 58 61cm 51 54 56 54 56 58 54 56 56
Handlebar Felt VS 6061 Aluminum Bar w/ Felt Variable Shape Ergonomic Drop, Ø31.8mm, 48cm=380mm, 51cm=400mm, 54cm-56cm=420mm, 58cm-61cm=440mm
Grips/Tape Felt Gel Ribbon Cork Tape w/ Felt 3D Logo
Front Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro, 700c x 23c, 60tpi
Front Derailleur Shimano 105 braze-on, double
Frame Material Felt Road UHC Performance MMC Carbon Fiber Frame w/ 3KP Weave, InsideOut Internal Molding Process, BB30 Shell, External Cable Routing, Carbon Fiber dropouts & Forged replaceable derailleur hanger, 907g
Fork Felt UHC Advanced 100% Carbon Fiber Monocoque Fork w/ 3KP Weave; TaperControl Carbon 1.125" - 1.5" Steerer tube, Crown, Blades, and Dropouts, Integrated Aluminum Crown Race, 370g
Cranks FSA Gossamer Pro Compact BB30, A6061-T6 cold Forged solid Crank Arms, Low speed extruded A7050 Aluminum Spindle, w/ AL7075 T6 Aluminum N10 5mm CNC Super Chainrings, Black AL7075 T6 Aluminum Torx T-30 Chainring Bolts, 110mm BCD, 808 grams (excluding BB) 50/34T; 48cm=165mm, 51cm=170mm, 54cm-56cm=172.5mm, 58cm-61cm=175mm
Chain Shimano 105 10-Speed
Cassette Shimano 105 Cassette, 11-25T
Brakes Shimano 105 Super SLR Dual Pivot w/ Cartridge Brake Shoes
Spoke Type Swiss Stainless Steel 2.0mm w/ Aluminum Nipples