Yesterday, Felt Bicycles released their 2011 bicycle lines to the media at their headquarters in semi-sunny Southern California. Self-described as “a small company that casts a large shadow,” they introduced bikes from the “four legs of their table.” Owners Jim Felt and Bill Duehring, along with product managers and engineers were on hand to discuss new models in their Mountain, Road/Tri,Â LifestyleÂ and BMX lines, although BMX was handled separately.
Their racing heritage was clear as they introduced all new top-end bikes, using unprecedented technologies. Although the flagship models come at a premium price tag, their advances were evident in all the models throughout the lines, trickling down even to the entry levels.Â Check out details on the new models after the break.
In addition to using higher quality,Â proprietaryÂ materials dubbed Ultra Hybrid Carbon (UHC) and Nano resin, FeltÂ is using a new manufacturing process called InsideOut, which employs a flexible internal mold, as well as the previously used bladder, to form the carbon from inside in a more efficient manner. The end result is an extremely clean inner profile that shows clearly how they seem to mimic the butted tubes of metal frames using their layups with almost no wasted material; thicker where needed, and thinner where not.
This, plus other trick features like a carbon BB30 shell, allow an advertised frame weight of 792 grams for the 2011 F1 frame. This is more than 100 grams lighter than the 2010 F1SL, yet the new manufacturing processes allow the 2011 F1 toÂ yieldÂ higher stiffness numbers than the 1200 gram 2010 F1 Sprint.Â The complete F1, with Shimano Di2 and Mavic Cosmic Carbone wheels will cost $12,499.
Other models in the F-Series will share the same frame manufacturing technology and will have frames weighing approximately 900 grams. The 17.4 pound Shimano 105-equipped F5, will cost $1,999.
In their completely new time trial/triathlon model, the DA, Felt’s painstaking engineering efforts are immediately apparent. In addition to the newÂ technologyÂ used in the F-series road bikes, they used a wind tunnel in conjuction with Computational Fluid Design (CFD) software to develop several key features allowing this to be one of the, if not the, most aerodynamic bikes on the market. “Trips” are built in throughout the frame to disrupt the airflow, to route it around things like the battery pack and rear wheel.
The Bayonet fork uses smaller bearing and “steerer” keeping the front end to 44mm at the widest. The rear brake, hidden under the chainstay, is a modified V-brake which allows faster wheel changes and easier maintenance. The complete bike will be Shimano Di2 with Zipp 808/1080 wheels, and be priced at $12,499.
The InsideOut technology also finds itself used in models within Felt’s pre-existing AR aero road bike line and Z-series road bikes. Rounding out the road bikes is the ZW line, designed specifically for women using modified spec details; 650c wheels in smaller sizes for better fits, smaller diameter tubing, lighter gauge spokes and aÂ unique carbon layup.
The F, Z, AR, ZW and Tri/TT lines all boast a full range of models, some as low as $799.
After years of development, Felt is ready to release their newest entry into the full-suspension market, the Edict. Using their new Felt Active StayÂ TechnologyÂ (FAST) and borrowing carbon technology from its skinny tire siblings, the Edict shaves 1.5 pounds off the successful Virtue frame for a sub-2,000 gram frame. Aimed at the 100mm travel XC rider, this bike will be likely ridden by the World Cup team Felt sponsors in Europe. Engineer Mike Ducharme’s race bike pictured above weighs 19.8 pounds, with pedals.
The FAST technology uses only a single pivot, plus linkage, and relies on the carbon fiber’s flex throughout the travel. The stays are also “preloaded” to approximately the sag point of the frame. This produces the effect of the bike being most comfortable sitting at its sag point, making the suspension more efficient.
Expanding on their 29er line, Felt will be offering five 29er models, most notably a $599 price point model, the Nine Trail. Spec’ed with Tektro disc brakes and Shimano Acera/Alivio, this model brings 29ers into uncharted,Â affordableÂ waters.
The day wound down with the final presentation of their growing Lifestyle line; which covers their fixed gear, cafe and cruiser bikes.
The Tea Bar is found on the Gridloc, anÂ unheard ofÂ 3-speed fixed gear bike.Â Retailing at $999, the bike uses a brand new Sturmey-Archer internally geared hub, that offers 3 speeds with a fixed cog. The cog can also be replaced by a freewheel if the rider desires.
The CafÃ© series offers clean, lightweight bikes with fenders and coffee cup holders to the new (or newly returning) riders in 1, 3, 7, 8 or 24 speed versions starting at $349.
Felt’s cruiser line-up has always been known for well-executed theme bikes, and they clearly have a lot of fun with it. The $549 Twin, modeled after a vintage Triumph motorcycle, features the Felt-designed Abraham Linkage fork (a name that got quite a chuckle from the group).
What was clearÂ throughoutÂ the entire day, in each of the presentations, from each of the people who spoke to us, and from each of the people I was able to speak to, is that the badge “DESIGNED IN CALIFORNIA” is applied proudly to their bikes. Things aren’t just ordered from a catalog, they are designed down to the last detail by a small group of folks who ride hard and take pride in the final product they are offering to the consumer. Rider experience is always their main concern.
Look for 2011 Felt Bicycles at your local dealer; many models are already available.