Felt Bicycles develops bikes in nearly every category with worldwide distribution, an impressive feat for a company with a crew of 32 in its Irvine, California, headquarters. Its 2015 launch for more than 30 journalists from around the country highlighted several Bicycle Times-friendly models alongside the standard high-zoot carbon machines, including e-bikes, endurance, commuting, fat bikes and dirt.
E-Bikes are coming
Felt’s e-bikes, have been in development for nearly five years, and available in Europe for three, according to e-bike product manager Zach Krapfl.
“Our electric bike vision is to enable people to get out of their cars,” Krapfl said. “We’ve found an overall positive experience with consumer feedback. There’s initial reluctance with some riders, but once they give the Felt e-bikes a try they’re convinced.”
Felt’s U.S. line uses Bosch’s throttle-less 350-watt electric assist motor across its five available models. All have a top speed of 20mph and a battery life ranging from 20-60 miles depending on how much the rider relies on power assist. Also, the handlebar-mounted Bosch Intuvia LED display includes remaining battery life, distance traveled and speed.
What is sure to be the most despised bike by the peanut gallery, the LEBOWSKe 10 is a 6061 double-butted, aluminum-framed fat bike spec’d with an 11-speed SRAM XO1 drivetrain and powered by a Felt/Bosch crankset with an 18-tooth cog. Speed modulation is provided by SRAM’s Guide RCS hydraulic brakes and 180mm Centerline rotors. There’s also plenty of fat cush in the Schwalbe Jumbo Jim Evolution 26×4.0-inch tires, and a RockShox Reverb Stealth dropper post allows for quick and easy saddle height tweaking, depending on what your plans are for the day:
The LEBOWSKe 10 weighs 48 pounds, and will retail for $5,800 later this fall.
Other e-bike models include the NINEe 20 hardtail ($4,700), the DUALe 20 dual suspension ($5,800), and the SPORTe 95 38-pound flat-bar road commuter ($4,000), which is also available in a step-through frame. This model and the NINe will roll out first on the West Coast in two weeks, with a nationwide rollout of the other models in late autumn.
Endurance and all-surface
Felt’s Z Series also gains some refinement for 2015, as it acknowledged the current trend of riding on all surfaces (road product manager Dave Koesel couldn’t bring himself to use the oft-mocked ‘gravel’ term). Felt categorizes its top-selling Z category as ‘endurance’ (think gran fondo, century rides, cause rides, etc.).
“We updated our Z Series frameset mold for disc brakes, and in keeping with our design philosophy, maintained the same focus on hand’s-free handling and rider compliancy. We added disc brakes, but not the big tire clearance to accept cyclocross tires, because we already have ‘cross bikes,” Koesel said, also pointing out the new adventure road line (below).
“We also developed a new rim shape, with a 19mm internal width and tubeless tire compatibility for more tire air pressure operating range. Also, we haven’t abandoned rim brakes in this series, which weigh less than discs.”
With component manufacturers like SRAM, Shimano and TRP refining their hydraulic and mechanical brakes plus rotor technology for all-surface drop-bar use, plenty is popping up for 2015. This includes Felt’s Z2 Disc (above), Z4 Disc, and Z75 Disc.
The Z4 Disc, above, looks great in the flesh, with its internally-routed housing through the fork crown and top tube. The taller head tube is creeping into several manufacturers’ designs for 2015, and while it looks a bit too sit-up-and-beg for us at first, once we settle into the drops it helps the rider settle into a powerful and comfortable riding position. The $2,499 Z4 Disc includes SRAM’s Rival 22 Hydraulic gruppo with a 50/34 chainrings and 11-32 11-speed cassette for über low gearing, ready for climbing nearly anywhere for anyone. Wheels are tires are Mavic Askium, and while the Hutchinson-made 700x25c tires are bigger than the usual 23s, we’d like to see 28s specced on machines like these in the future. The Z75 Disc ($1,499) is similarly specced, but with an aluminum frame, Shimano 105 components and TRP Sprye-C disc brakes.
Koesel was also excited to introduce a new Felt category, dubbed Adventure Road. With four models ranging from $1,399 down to $569, the intention is accessibility for all rider levels. The V Series is split into drop and flat bar.
The $999 aluminum-frame V90F is designed around flat bars with integrated bar ends for fast commuting, spec’d heavily with Felt-branded components, Tektro Auriga hydraulic brakes, and a road-friendly Shimano Altus 10-speed 50/34 x 11-32 drivetrain, rolling on Vittoria Zaffiro 700x28c tires.
At the top of the V-lineup is the V85, a drop bar bike with 11-speed Shimano 105, 700x28c tires and disc brakes.
Something for the kiddos
Several Felt employees have young kids, and while the brand offers kids’ mountain bikes like most companies, it was only natural for Koesel to design performance road and ‘cross bikes like the $799 F24 (below) and the $799 F24X. Built around 24-inch wheels, they feature all the same rider-fit components.
How else can we develop a generation of riders if we don’t provide them with the proper tools? If most parents don’t think twice about buying their youngling an iPad or smartphone, a $799 smart bike seems like a better investment.