The Felt VR4 is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2019. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women’s bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
Felt VR4 frame and kit
The dropped seatstays and sloping top tube of the VR4 expose a lot of seatpost, which is a sure-fire way to introduce some rear-end compliance.
Up front, the fork uses a tapered steerer, which varies across the sizes to equalise the front-end stiffness, so a tiny 43cm model should ride the same as the largest 61cm bike.
Tyre clearances all round are generous, with plenty of space around the big 28mm Schwalbe Durano tyres, so you could go a little bigger should you wish, though the 28s offer bags of comfort. The Devox VR2.1 tubeless-compatible rims they’re mounted on (21mm inner width, 23mm depth) make the most of the extra rubber.
The frame comes with hidden mounts for Felt’s own VR series mudguards, and a triathlon-style bento box on the top tube, for carrying a small bag for food, phone, keys and cash.
However, it’s comfort where the VR4 really scores. The combination of a highly compliant frame and those voluminous tyres gives an almost floaty ride.
The position is all about looking after the rider too. My 56cm test bike had a generous stack height of 597mm and a 396mm reach.
If you prefer even more stack height (or less for that matter) , the VR4 comes with a clever stem with a variable angle (you rotate the offset top cap/cum sleeve) for either +/- 8 degrees or +/- 16 degrees.
Even the Devox handlebar is relaxed, with a short 65mm reach and shallow 125mm drop.
The ride on the VR4 is smooth and comfortable, and the dependable handling throws up few surprises.
It’s very much a bike for riders who favour seated climbing and or those who flow downhill rather than dart from apex to apex. In other words, it’s more of a grand tourer than a racer and suitable for those who prefer to cover big miles rather than race flat-out from point to point.
The groupset composition is a bit of a mishmash — Ultegra front and rear mechs, new 105 shifters and brakes, and an FSA Gossamer Pro chainset.
In practice, it all works well together, and the new 105 brakes impress just as much as their more pricey Ultegra cousins.
My only minor complaint is that the FSA chainrings seem a little reluctant to release when you’re shifting between them.
It took about three quarters of a pedal revolution to drop from the big ring to the 34 inner, although upshifts, when you’re more likely to be pedalling harder, felt just as quick as with Shimano rings.
The bike’s contact points are good. The aforementioned shallow-drop bar is wrapped with a perforated bar tape that feels nice and has a reflective base, while a well-shaped and deeply padded Prologo Kappa Space saddle ticks all the right boxes for seat comfort.
Felt VR4 verdict
Overall, the VR4 is a fine machine. It sets out to be a comfortable long-distance bike and it hits that mark bang on.
It’s not a bike that gets my heart racing, or one to seek out thrills on, but it’s hard to beat if you want to stay free of aches and pains after big days out at a brisk pace.
It’s the Volvo of endurance bikes — well thought out and well made, comfortable and dependable — just not all that exciting.
Felt VR4 specifications
- Sizes (*tested): 43, 47, 51, 54, 56*, 58, 61cm
- Weight: 9.11kg
- Frame: UHC Performance carbon
- Fork: UHC Advanced carbon
- Chainset: FSA Gossamer Pro ABS Adventure
- Bottom bracket: FSA BB386 with 30mm bearings
- Cassette: Shimano 11-32
- Chain: KMC X11
- Derailleurs: Shimano 105
- Shifters: Shimano 105 ST-R7020
- Wheelset: Devox RSL3D
- Tyres: Schwalbe DURANO RaceGuard 28mm
- Wheel weight: 1520g (f), 2020g (r)
- Stem: Felt VR OS SuperLite
- Bar: Devox Road Endurance
- Headset: FSA IS-21 integrated
- Saddle: Prologo Scratch Space T2.0
- Seatpost: Devox Lite Road
- Brakes: Shimano 105 BR-R7070 hydraulic disc
Felt VR4 geometry
- Seat angle: 73.5 degrees
- Head angle: 72.5 degrees
- Chainstay: 41.5cm
- Seat tube: 45cm
- Top tube: 54cm
- Fork offset: 4.75cm
- Trail: 5.9cm
- Wheelbase: 1,015mm