First look: Felt FX3 carbon cyclocross with disc brakes

 

By Gary J. Boulanger,

The governing body for international bicycle racing gave the nod for disc brakes to be used on cyclocross bikes a couple years ago, but the development process to bring a carbon machine to market takes a while. Felt responded quickly, and now offers two carbon models, the F1X and F3X, to compliment its aluminum F65X model, carried over from 2012.

Frame and fork technology

  

The 2013 Felt FX3 frame is made with Ultra Hybrid Carbon (UHC) Performance Modular Monocoque Construction (MMC) carbon fiber with a 3K protective weave for added durability against errant rocks and chain slap. According to Felt engineers, the UHC Performance carbon has a tensile strength 7.9 times greater than 3Al/2.5V titanium, with a stiffness rating 3.34 times greater than 6061 aluminum.

Using the same InsideOut internal molding process as the Z2 road bike I test rode in Irvine, Felt still feels strongly about using an aluminum insert for its BB30 bottom bracket shell for a more precise fit and less squeaking, and provides an electronic or mechanical cable routing option. Carbon dropouts with IS-mount disc tabs and a smart replaceable dérailleur hanger come standard.

The fork also is made with the same UHC Advanced material and process as the Z2 fork I tested, with 100 percent monocoque construction and full co-molded carbon fiber dropouts, also with disc tabs. Felt’s Control Taper design improves front-end stiffness and steering precision without adding weight, relying on a tapered carbon steer from 1.125 inches down to a 1.5-inch lower. Reliable handling isn’t just for roadies; control is paramount on the dirt and sand, especially in sketchy, technical sections where adventure riders are likely to tread on a bike like this.

Components

The affordable performance SRAM Force gruppo handles drivetrain and shifters duties, while custom Ashima stainless rotors (140mm rear/160mm front) and Avid BB-7 mechanical disc brakes handle speed modulation. Felt’s engineers cooked up several house-brand components, including stem, bars, seat post and wheels, all labelled CxR. A Prologo Nago Evo saddle rounds out the cockpit. The 46/36-tooth BB30 crankset is matched with an 11-to-26 tooth, 10-speed cassette for all terrain use, with an emphasis on ‘cross racing.

 

“We found areas for improvement on our ‘cross bikes for 2013, especially mud clearance,” Felt road manager Dave Koesel told me. “Disc brakes make this attainable without sacrificing performance. We designed our own road tubeless wheelset, with a sub 300g rear hub, and 135g front hub. We chose the Geax tubeless-ready ‘cross tires so riders could use lower tire pressure.”

The 2013 Felt F3X will be available in matte carbon with lime green highlights, in 47, 50, 53, 55, 57, 60 and 63cm sizes for a targeted retail price of $3,829. According to Koesel, a 57cm F3X weighs a shade over 18lbs with inner tubes and uncut steerer tube. "The bike is tubeless ready which would save nearly 100g once set up with sealant," he added.

The flagship F1X carbon disc ‘cross frame is made with Felt’s UHC Advanced MMC carbon fiber with 1.5K protective weave, and upspecced with the latest SRAM Red with custom WickWërks chainrings. A custom 3T carbon fork, handlebars and seat post, plus Mavic CrossMax SLR wheels, round out the component spec, with a target retail price of $7,249. The frame is made with Felt’s UHC Advanced MMC carbon fiber with 1.5K protective weave. 

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