First Look: 2015 Felt bikes
Gear editor Ryan Palmer glances at the new offerings from the Southern California brand
Felt is mostly known for its skinny tire bikes, but the California-based brand likes playing in the dirt as well. Last year Felt showed significant improvements to its mountain lineup, so when the invite for the annual product release at the company’s Irvine headquarters hit my inbox I was curious to see what 2015 would yield.
The 160-millimeter Compulsion series has gotten some much needed love for 2015. First, there’s the obvious wheel size update from 26-inch to 650b. The $4,500 Compulsion 10 is dressed to impress with a wide 760-millimeter carbon bar, short stem (varies from 50-70 millimeters depending on frame size), RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, SRAM 1×11 drivetrain, SRAM Guide brakes and Schwalbe rubber. A wallet-friendlier $3,300 will buy you a Compulsion 30 with a Shimano XT/Deore drivetrain and Pike RC. There’s a $2,700 Compulsion 50 as well, which ditches the Pike for a more affordable Suntour Aion RL-R fork.
All three bikes are built on the same hydroformed and butted aluminum frame featuring Felt’s Equilink suspension design, which is designed to provide plenty of pedaling support at proper sag, but less as you get deeper into the travel. This gives the bike nice pedaling characteristics but allows it to absorb impacts even when on the gas.
Felt changed the layup on the carbon-framed Virtue models, which resulted in a reduction in weight and an increase in stiffness. In addition, Felt went ahead and added internal cable routing to clean things up. It also added an FRD model, which stands for Felt Racing Development, a program designed to push the limits of design without regard for cost. FRD frames use higher quality carbon and much more expensive and laborious construction techniques, which results in excellent consistency and very light yet durable frames, according to the company. The Virtue FRD will be spec’d with Shimano XTR mechanical parts and a 140-millimeter RockShox Pike for $9,500. The Virtue 1, which is pictured above, is fully RockShox’d out with a Revelation RLT fork, Monarch RT3 shock and Reverb Stealth dropper post. It also sports SRAM X01 and Guide RSC brakes for six grand. The frame uses more traditional construction techniques than the FRD, but does see some trickle down from the program. Textreme is a carbon layer that is added to increase durability, which was previously only used on FRD frames. If you’ve gotta have carbon but don’t have six grand to spend, check out the Virtue 3 for $3,500.
We tested an Edict earlier this year and found it to be incredibly fun and capable for a race bike. The Edict uses a different suspension platform than Felt’s other bikes to achieve a lightweight and efficient cross-country pedaler. For 2015, the FRD is pretty much entirely carbon. Wheels? Carbon. Fork? Carbon. Crank? Carbon. All the other models of this 100-millimeter 29er get forks to match, but the FRD has a badass 120-millimeter RS-1, showing the bike’s versatility. The Edict 1 is a standout at $5,500 with SRAM X01, RockShox Sid and Easton wheels, but the Edict 3 might take the value cake at $3,200.
Notable features on the Nine carbon hardtail include a 142 axle, internal cable routing with Di2 compatibility, and a neat bolt-on guard to protect the 2-pound frame from chain gouging. The Nine series ranges in price from the entry-level Nine 80 at 620 bucks all the way up to the carbon-framed Nine 1 you see here at five grand.