For such an all-around workhorse of a bike, the 29-inch-wheeled Felt Virtue Nine 20 had our testers firmly divided on its strengths and weaknesses. One editor had one of his best rides of the entire Bible of Bike Tests on this beast. Watch this Roundtable Reels video to find out why.
FELT VIRTUE NINE 20
Direct Link: feltbicycles.com/USA/2014/Bikes/Mountain/virtue-nine-series/virtue-nine-20.aspx
Final Take: It'll keep you grounded and rolling above the chunky stuff.
There isn't usually a ton of disagreement over each bike tested at the Bible. Most of the time we're all pretty much on the same page. The Felt Virtue however, was a different story altogether. This 130-millimeter 29er was a topic of debate between a couple of us.
I came back from my loop aboard the Virtue in a better mood than I left in for the simple reason that I had cleared the entire course without dabbing, which I only accomplished on a few other bikes. Not only did I clear everything, it felt easy. Which is interesting because the bike sports long stays and high bottom bracket, two traits I don't normally get along with. These things coupled with the 69-degree head angle allowed me to maneuver effectively through technical terrain without striking my pedals.
Vernon on the other hand, did not have a good time on the Virtue. While I was in complete control of the Felt, Vernon described being both bored and sketched out aboard the bike. It's not often that there's this much disparity between reviewer experiences.
Brice fell somewhere in the middle. While he came closer than ever to clearing a technical section that he hadn't yet, the bike was difficult to get around switchbacks.
The one thing that all of us did agree on was that the Virtue, love it or hate it, is not the kind of bike that supports a playful or sporty riding style. It prefers rolling through a rock garden to jumping over it. I found it stable and predictable as long as I wasn't trying to absolutely pin it. But that's not a bad thing.
It's a smart choice for anyone who likes staying on the ground and pedaling above the rocks. Felt's patented Equilink platform provides enough anti-squat that the Rock Shox Monarch RT can be left open most of the time, for a hassle-free ride experience. Not much needs to be said about the Shimano XT build, other than we approve. –RYAN PALMER