Felt launched their 2012 road line up earlier this week with a number of familiar faces returning for the new year, as well as a few new standouts. As in previous years Felt puts a priority on creating an incredibly complete line of bikes. From the pure bred racer to the entry-level century rider, Felt has a bike for every rider, at every price point. Peloton got a chance to take a detailed look at each and every bike and we’ll bring you a few of the highlights.
Returning for 2012 is the F series, a bike launched just last year. This is Felt’s pure-bred stiffness to weight racer. It has tight, aggressive angles, with a ride focused on power transfer and very light weight. From the F1 Di2 with UHC Ultimate carbon with Nano technology, to the aluminum F85, it’s a very comprehensive line.The Felt F1 Di2 resides at the top of the range and retails for $9,999.00 while an F2 with new Ultegra Di2 looks like an incredible bargain at only $4,999.00. Of course mechanical versions are available from SRAM and Shimano as well.
The flagship F1 Di2 has a sub 800gram frame ready to go with internal electronic routing (while still able to externally mount a mechanical drive train). An extremely cool addition to the Di2 spec are the sprint shifters, a button inboard of the right hood to shift up, and another inboard of the left hood to shift down, easily accessible in the most challenging and technical sprints. These are very rare items and come thanks to Felt’s close relationship with Shimano which has its US headquarters less than a K from Felt.
Despite the very low weight the F1 could have been made lighter. Felt decided to build in some of what they call “crash-ability”. What does this mean? Small touches like a slight reinforcing of the top tube where your bars would impact it during a crash mean you’re more likely to pick your bike up and finish the race. A nice touch when you pay retail for your race bike.
The bike uses Felt’s InsideOut process to deliver incredibly smooth interior walls and ensure that every fiber of carbon and every gram of resin is adding to the bikes performance. The F 1 also marked a big departure for the way Felt manufacturers it’s frames. Instead of the old monocoque, with stays bonded on behind the BB, Felt uses DynamicMonocoque, with a single BB – chain stay piece as the foundation of the frame and its incredible power transfer.On the left is the old style single monocoque front triangle, on the right the new DynamicMonocoque with its one piece BB/Chain Stay unit with all the joints moved away from high stress areas.
A very interesting addition to F series is all-new for 2012, the F4103. A bike designed to evoke cycling’s heritage it is a steel frame made from a Columbus tube set with a UHC fork and the tight, race inspired angles of the F series. A gorgeous Felt threadless quill stem and 11 speed Campagnolo Athena group add to the vintage feel.The Felt F4130. Heaps of vintage style for $2999.00.
The AR series is back, and while the frame has seen a few seasons already it’s important to remember it was a bike way ahead of its time when it launched, a road bike that puts a premium in aerodynamics. With a lot of manufacturers just jumping on the trend this year The AR is more relevant now than ever. While the external shapes may not have changed the bikes overall ride quality has improved significantly thanks to the use of InsideOut technology.The AR1 features Di2, Felt's own Devox bar and stem, and Dura Ace C35 aero clinchers. While it retails for $9,999.00 much of the same aero benefit can be had for $2,499.00 with the AR5 and its Shimano 105 build.
The Z series, one of Felt’s best sellers, is back as well. This is the bike aimed squarely at the middle of the market. The century rider, the rider new to the sport, or the rider looking for all day performance will find a home with the Z series. With comfort much higher on the priority list the Z series has a taller head tube, more relaxed angles, and much more compliance than an F or AR bike. Don’t let that fool you though, the bike still has Pro Tour power transfer and has been a favorite of Felt’s pro riders at demanding races like Paris-Roubaix, Battenkill and Milan San Remo. The Z series also encompasses a complete line of ZW women’s bikes with their own angles and builds that put all of that performance in the right place for the female rider.The Z2 is top of the line for the Z series (the Z1 designation is reserved for the frame alone: $2,699.00) It's another Di2 build for $7,699.00. The ZW encompasses 6 models, from the carbon UHC Advanced carbon ZW3 with SRAM Red to the ZW95, an aluminum frame with Tiagra and Microshift for $949.00
What is clear with Felt’s line up is a desire to address every type of road riding and every type of road rider, regardless of price range or talent. You want to jump away from a field of elite riders on a 10% grade? Get yourself and F series. You want to bury your head and go solo with 10K to go? Take a look at the AR. You want to knock out that sub 5 hour century? The Z series may be the way to go.
While the 2012 line may not be full of new bikes and new categories the Felt mantra seems to be “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” And while other brands have been busy launching aero road bikes and all day performance frames, the truth is Felt has had those bikes for many, many seasons already and has spent their time fine tuning the performance and build of those bikes.
For more details on Felt check out: www.feltbicycles.com