Chew on this: the Edict sports a 71.5-degree head angle, which is on the steep side even for a cross-country bike. But it also has a 120-millimeter-travel fork, which usually denotes a more trail-oriented 29er. If you're not already making a squinty face, maybe this will do it: The Felt's chainstays are a whopping 450 millimeters long (17.7 inches).
And while numbers can be deceiving, in this case they're as honest as a Texas sundown. There was plenty of tight New England singletrack at the Kingdom Trails, and while the long rear end took some time to come around, the steep head angle helped our testers stick the right line.
The Edict's rear suspension uses vertically flexing seatstays to allow the rear wheel to move through its 100 millimeters of travel. It's a simple design that keeps frame weight down, but we had a tough time finding the right balance between a stiff setup with good pedaling efficiency and a softer one with the traction we wanted. Tradeoffs are inherent in any suspension system, and the FAST linkage worked well enough–it just doesn't offer the performance of more complex designs that let you have your cake and eat it, too.
Once the Edict got moving, it initially felt more stable than most cross-country bikes, but the twitchiness caused by the steep head angle was intensified by the Suntour Raidon fork, which lacked compression damping and dove through its travel under braking. The rest of the parts, including the Schwalbe Rapid Rob tires, Shimano Deore 2×10 drivetrain and M355 brakes performed well enough, given that the Edict 5 is really about getting the carbon frame–with its pragmatic threaded bottom bracket–out the door at a reasonable price.
This bike has the potential to be a weapon on buff, high-speed trails, and the stiff frame is worth the upgrades for a rider or racer dealing with that type of terrain. But replacing the component that needs it the most–the fork–would likely require a new front wheel or wheelset, since the stock quick-release front hub isn't convertible to a through-axle. With that in mind, the prudent move is obvious: Save another grand and spring for the Edict 3.
Q&A with Rob Pauley
We're not the kind of people to get glued to spec sheets, but in the case of Felt's Edict 5, one stat just popped out and demanded attention–the price. The Edict 5 sports a full carbon frame, yet the entire bike costs about the same as most carbon frames. WTF? How did Felt make that happen? Along the way, we had the usual raft of "What the hell is this bike all about?" type questions. Felt's Mountain Bike Product Manager, Rob Pauley, fills in the blanks below.
–Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator
Vernon Felton: An XC race bike is an XC race bike is an XC race bike, right? Or is that line of reasoning bullshit? What distinguishes the better XC bikes from others?
Rob Pauley: That reasoning is total bullshit. There are so many XC bikes out there that sell based solely on high-tech suspension bits and fancy drivetrain components. But the frame is light, right? Low frame weight is not an immediate indication of quality and should never be the sole reason for purchase. The proof is always in the ride. The better XC bikes have highly developed frames that are complemented by quality components, not defined by them.
VF: What sets the Edict 5 apart from other XC race bikes that roll in at this price point?
RP: The Edict 5 shares the same frame design as our highest-end FRD model. The carbon material and lay-up is all that has changed. We're not cheating this customer out of quality suspension.
VF: Perhaps I'm pigeonholing this bike unnecessarily. Were you thinking of XC racers when you were designing this bike, or was it meant to be a pure XC weapon?
RP: The Edict frame was originally designed with XC racing as its primary goal. Over the years, however, it has gained some critical acclaim for how well the rear end soaks up terrain on descents, even with a 100-millimeter fork. With a 120-millimeter fork, the front end relaxes a bit and the bike is transformed into a trail rocket still capable of handling XC racecourses. Although XC racing may be its main intent, the Edict could easily be an all-around trail bike for some riders.
VF: Are there any aspects of the frame design that you guys are particularly proud of? If so, what are they, and why?
RP: Our FAST suspension system is highly underrated. The FAST swingarm is intentionally molded in a compressed state, which allows the bike to have very sensitive small-bump compliance while remaining a snappy climber. In the 30% sag position, the swingarm sits into a neutral position, allowing the middle and end strokes to ramp up, fighting pedal bob and bigger hits. FAST is far more developed than the typical "flex-stay" bikes on the market.
VF: The Edict 5 comes in at a very attractive price point–particularly for a bike with a full carbon frame. There are carbon frames–plenty of them–that cost as much as this entire bike. The obvious question is, "How?" How did you do that? What kind of concessions did you have to make to get the price to roll in at that figure?
RP: People will always assume that shortcuts were taken and that they're detrimental to the quality of the bike. We refuse to take shortcuts like that. We refuse to use subpar, cheaper materials in our frames to save a buck. The truth is very simple. We have to remain competitive. So, on occasion, we will take a shorter margin on the bikes in order to get the bike just right for some price points.
VF: Are there any details or features on this bike that you think are particularly critical to its performance that might be easily overlooked by consumers at first glance?
RP: We work very closely with our frame factories to make sure the strength and performance of the end frame are up to our standards. Every Edict 5 frame gets the same meticulous attention to detail as our top-end frames.
VF: What sets the carbon frame on the Edict 5 and 3 models apart from the TeXtreme carbon frames on the more expensive models in your line? How do those differences actually manifest in terms of ride quality out on the trail?
RP: TeXtreme is a special ingredient that, when used appropriately, can make our frames lighter, stiffer and stronger. We do not develop our top-end frame and work on ways to make it cheaper. Instead, TeXtreme allows us to take our best frames and make them even better. For the most part, you can compare the Edict 5 frame to the top-end carbon bike from most of our competitors.