First look: Felt York, a Frenchie-inspired townie

By Gary J. Boulanger

Most grab-and-go townie bikes are over-designed and over burdened with frilly extras to cater to the beginner crowd, but Felt decided to develop something inspired from the 1950s French delivery bikes. Starting with a TIG-welded chromoly steel frame with traditional double-diamond design, the Felt York features a Sturmey-Archer 2-speed kickback hub, based on the old Bendix design used by millions of American paperboys.

The kickback hub allows the rider to shift gears with a slight rearward push of the cranks, engaging the internal mechanism without the use of a handlebar-mounted gear shifter. It looks like a coaster brake because it is; the guts of the rear hub are just designed to accommodate another cruising gear, keeping the lines of the frame clean without the need for cable guides. This is more like your grandfather’s fixed gear bike, but one with practicality, thanks to the swept-back bars, full fenders, and front rack.

Complimenting the custom-butted frame is a steel tapered fork with a windowed fork crown, a nice touch for an affordable bike. Compared to Felt’s other fixed-gear models, the York’s wheelbase is 18-plus millimeters longer, with a 47 versus a 43mm fork rake for more stable handling. Open-ended track dropouts are wisely used to allow simply chain tensioning; remember to loosen, then tighten, the non-drive clamp band when adjusting.

Component spec includes a Campagnolo-inspired cold forged polished crankset, Tektro front brake caliper, riveted vintage-shaped saddle, and polished steel fenders. The shiny, high-flange, sealed-bearing front hub looks nice with the Sturmey-Archer rear.

Available in Duke Blue, the Felt York comes in 51, 54, 56, 58 and 61cm sizes. Weight is TBA, and retail will be $829.

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