Preview: Felt Compulsion
Felt broadens its appeal with the new 160-millimeter-travel heavy-hitter
By Kevin Rouse
$2900-$6200 / feltbicycles.com
It’s been a big year for Felt. One of the smallest ‘big’ companies, Felt has been rather busy since last year’s introduction of its all-new Edict XC whip, and if the company’s new Compulsion is any indication, its time has been far from wasted.
Since the company’s inception, Felt, while perhaps more widely known first and foremost as a road brand, has committed a good part of its engineering capital to its mountain offerings, serving up some of the first carbon-fiber hardtail 29ers in the industry.
However, since then, its lineup has continued to be rather cross-country biased, with its more recent releases centering around its latest F.A.S.T. (Felt Active Stay Technology) suspension design, a system tailored towards highly efficient short-travel designs.
That’s surely not the case anymore as Felt has revived its capable five-bar Equilink suspension design on the new Compulsion (for the U.S. at least, the all-alloy Compulsion made its way to Europe last year). Built around 150- to 160-millimeters of adjustable rear travel, the Compulsion significantly broadens Felt’s lineup.
“This year is a big push into a full line of mountain bikes,” explained mountain bike product manager Andy Holmes.
Felt will offer the Compulsion in several guises, including the Compulsion One, which sports a carbon front triangle, and the all-alloy Compulsion 40.
Holmes noted that engineers toyed around with the notion of a full-carbon model, but in keeping with Felt’s mantra of Fast, Light, Strong, opted for an aluminum rear triangle simply for durability’s sake.
The top-end Compulsion comes equipped with Shimano’s full XT group while Fox takes care of the suspension duties with its new Float 34. Crankbrothers is tapped for its Kronolog dropper-post and WTB’s capable Bronson tires provide traction control for the whole package. All on all, it makes for a rather impressive parts list.
The Compulsion 40 swaps in an aluminum front triangle, a SRAM X7/X5 parts mix and a RockShox suspension complement headed up by the company’s Domain coil-sprung fork. Despite the weight penalty of the coil-sprung fork and lack of a carbon front triangle, the Compulsion 40 still weighs in at a respectable 31 pounds (size medium).
Introduced in 2007, the 5-bar ‘Equilink’ suspension design, in the words of Felt suspension engineer Mike Ducharme is “one of the broadest suspension designs out there.”
Because of the high number of pivots (six), the Equilink design can be tuned to fit a particularly wide range of travel, while exercising an extremely high level of control over the bike’s desired axle path.
The unique strut running between the upper and lower links helps Ducharme, and his son Nick, Felt’s other suspension engineer, to dial in the bikes anti-squat characteristics.
All said, the Compulsion should promise to be a very active ride, yet still maintain a high degree of pedaling efficiency.
The Compulsion is currently making its way to dealers in limited sizes, with the full range becoming available within the next month.