Although the Z100’s looks didn’t appeal to everybody, most of our testing team were wowed that such a modestly priced bike had such co-ordinated kit adorning its well finished aluminium frame.
It’s impressive to find the bike’s red detailing extending to the brake block cartridges, cable ferrules and even the rear derailleur cable outer. And refreshing that it’s not just another red, white and black identikit bike.
But it’s not only in its looks that Felt go their own way with the Z100. At this price Shimano is specced virtually without exception – this is one of those exceptions. Rather than go for the 2300 or Sora typical on a £700 bike, Felt have plumped for nine-speed Microshift levers, an FSA triple chainset and Shimano Sora mechs.
It works well – the is shifting firm and reassuring, the nine-speed cassette ensuring there are smaller jumps between gears than on eight-speed equivalents – but Microshift don’t have Shimano’s ergonomics. The former’s hoods have a more angular shape and after a few hours on their hard rubber your hands will certainly start to feel this.
There are also three separate levers, with two different sized paddles behind the brake lever responsible for shifts. The brakes themselves, with their glossy red cartridges, work better than their non-cartridge counterparts often found on bikes at this price though.
Felt’s Z series bikes have a less racy geometry than their F series machines, with a shorter stem, 2cm taller head tube and shallower head angle. Handling, though, is spot-on for a bike at this price. The ride is planted, with no surprises for the rider for whom this could be a first serious road bike.
The upright geometry is comfortable over long rides, and the 25mm own-brand tyres and decent dual-density saddle help to keep comfort levels high. The heavyish wheels mean that acceleration isn’t inspiring, but the comfort and measured, reassured handling more than compensate for this slight sluggishness.
There are compromises. The hubs aren’t the smoothest, for example, but they’re well sealed. At 10.2kg (22.5lb) the Z100 is also no lightweight. However, it’s a a good value mile-eater, and with some of the current discounts we’ve seen it’s definitely worth taking for a serious test ride.
Red details, right down to the cable end ferrules: red details, right down to the cable end ferrules www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk