We tested the F5 last year and were impressed with the ride quality. Getting out on the 2013 version was like slipping into a favourite pair of comfy shoes. Even better news for potential buyers is the price reduction – it might only be £50/US$230 less but that’s still a saving worth having.
Frame & equipment: Light and dependable but rolling stock needs attention
Felt’s F Series bikes had a major overhaul back in 2011. The frame’s carbon layup was optimised to reduce weight to the 900g mark while improving stiffness and ride quality. That goes some way to improving the 2013 F5’s overall weight of 8.26kg (18.21lb), impressive for a bike at a price of just £1,649/US$2,069.
Despite the bike’s modest price tag, it’s certainly not outclassed in the spec department. It features full Shimano 105, Mavic-rimmed wheels and nice touches such as a carbon seatpost, quality cockpit and classy Prologo saddle.
The drivetrain performs faultlessly, as you’d expect from Shimano’s solid, dependable 105. We were also impressed with Felt’s compact drop bar and classy stem. Out back, a carbon seatpost is a classy touch, and we’re big fans of the Prologo Nago saddle shape.
Though the frame is a class performer, its tech details are starting to look a little dated, especially compared with Felt’s hugely impressive Z5. All the cable routing is external, and there’s no provision for electronic drivetrains should you want to upgrade at a later date. If you’re happy to stay with mechanical gearing for as long as you’ll have the bike then it’s a bargain, though.
Our only issue with the F5 is the wheels. Mavic’s CXP22 rim has been around for over a decade, and its semi-deep profile makes for a stiff rim. The construction will last and last, and it’s a popular choice for training wheel builds. The Felt branded hubs are simple but solid, too, but the overall package is a little heavier than the frame deserves.
The same can be said of the boots it’s running. Vittoria Rubino Pros are hard-wearing, solid tyres. They’re a great choice for off-season use but you’d want to step up a grade or two before your racing gets into full swing.
Ride & handling: Race-ready but still comfortable
The slender, understated frame has race-ready geometry, and the low chassis weight makes for a bike that’s imminently chuckable. Unlike plenty of bikes designed for speed, though, the F5 isn’t a hard ride.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that its overall characteristic is suppleness. It’s light and lively over broken road surfaces, but stiff and stable enough to handle the stresses when you throw down the power. Felt’s compact drop bar and stem are both stiff enough during sprints but without transferring any road buzz to your hands.
All in all, we’re still big fans of the F5. It was a top proposition when it was launched and is still a class act in the riding stakes. It is starting to show its age features-wise, but is a bargain for the money.
This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2013 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 273, on sale Friday 1 March and available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.