Incremental Improvements for Felt in 2015
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Felt’s 2013 media day was a monster with lots of new bikes and new technologies. The all-new 2014 Felt AR stole the show that year.
It was a total redesign of Felt’s aero-road platform, a category it helped pioneer with Slipstream Sports in 2006 and first entered in 2003 with the tri market. With saving of about 40 watts over the F series road bikes at 30 mph, the AR provided tangible benefits.
Another new technology debuted last year was Textreme’s spread tow carbon fabrics, a checkerboard fabric that allowed a single layer to replace two layers of unidirectional carbon. It is lighter weight and resists delamination, yet isn’t as heavy and doesn’t damage fibers like a traditional weave. It lets Felt engineers use the weight savings to tune ride quality with other modulus carbons. We provided a detailed report from last year’s event with all the highlights. Shortly after, the Felt AR set a new record on our benchmark descent, beating out Cervelo, Specialized, and other brands.
Building on 2013
Coming off such a strong 2014 product line, the 2015 line consisted of more incremental advancements. For 2015 the AR1 and AR2 are also using Textreme fabrics, not just the ultra pricey FRD version of the AR. The A3 is also re-spec’d with 11-speed Ultegra mechanical and the 3T seat post designed for vibration dampening. In fact, all the AR bikes but the AR FRD use the 3T post. It does come with a 25-gram weight penalty, so the pure performance FRD forgoes the technology but gets added compliance from a more complex lay up. The usual AR post, a technological marvel in its own right, is a 25-mm offset, but for 2015 a new 5-mm offset is offered. And because the post is asymmetrical, the two posts offer four distinct positions.
The highlight of the 2015 AR line may be the most inexpensive model. The AR5 is now built with the new 11-speed Shimano 105. Dave Koesel, Felt’s road product manager, calls it “Dura Ace on a budget.” The AR5 also specs with Felt-branded wide alloy rims for more performance on that tight budget.
Price range for the 2015 AR line is broad: $2,500 for the AR5 to $1,300 for the FRD model. FRD or AR1 frame sets can also be had for $4,000 ad $2,500, respectively.
F- Series Bikes
Jim Felt’s first road bike was called the F1, and the F-series has been its longest-running nameplate. They focus on stiffness to weight and race handling with aggressive fit. The F FRD is under 1,000 grams for frame and fork (700-gram frame and 285-gram uncut steer), as it was last year. The mold has been around since 2010, but the materials and techniques applied have evolved.
Felt firmly believes the future is electronic and mechanical’s days at the top of the market are numbered. The F FRD, along with the electronic AR models, are electronic native, although they could run SRAM CX-1 and its single shift cable.
For 2015, the old FC workhorse race frame is gone and the F1 gets Textreme fibers as do the F2 and F3 bikes. The $1,600 alloy F-series bikes is still available and aimed at the budget college racer.
Felt is also releasing an F1 PR for the first time. It’s a bike created for its pro teams to race at Roubaix and is essentially an F1 with clearance for bigger tires through a lengthened rear, taller fork, and long-reach calipers. The result is the F series’ power-to-weight with a bit more stability and clearance for 32-mm tires. Because of UCI rules, the bike has to be available to the public, but this F1-PR will be offered in limited quantities.
An F1 PR will cost $5,000 with an Ultegra mechanical build, the same price as an F2 with Ultegra Di2. Interestingly, there is no high-end F-series bike. Instead, Felt offers the R FRD frame for $4,000 and the F1 frame set for $1,650, assuming riders in that category can build their own dream bike. The F1 PR can also be had as a frame for $2,500.
Double Tap fans will need to go with the frame-set option because Felt is not offering a single SRAM drivetrain across its F and AR series bikes.
The Z Series — And a New V-Series
The Z series bikes, Felt’s endurance machines, get some big changes (which will be revealed at Eurobike soon), and a new series, V, has also launched. With flat bars and drop bars, Felt’s goal is to get people to upgrade from an old hybrid or entry-level mountain bike by providing them with a familiar fit and feel in a more efficient package. Stay tuned.
For more details, head over to feltbicycles.com.