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Felt is no stranger to gravel bikes, having made the alloy Breed and Broam models for a few years now. But one thing has been conspicuously absent from the gravel range: carbon fiber — especially for a brand that prides itself on its innovations and expertise in this material. That’s finally changed. The Breed Carbon will start hitting shop floors later this year.
Some will accuse Felt of being late to the game on a carbon race gravel bike, and there’s certainly some truth to that. But the California-based brand has gained something by waiting to enter this particular category: seeing what works and what doesn’t in the myriad of bikes flooding the market, then adding a dash of Felt flare and innovation while not being different merely for the sake of being different. This bike is no copy-and-paste job from the alloy version; it’s a completely new bike.
Compatible with practically any drivetrain and tires you want
Gravel rides can take you across many different terrains, so there’s no such thing as a one-spec-fits-all bike. From drivetrains to tires and beyond, the Breed Carbon is one of the most widely compatible bikes hitting the market. Both electronic and mechanical groups in both 1x and 2x configurations are compatible. On 1x drivetrains, you can fit up to a 52-tooth chainring, practically road-bike territory, if you have a flat, fast course in mind. A removable front derailleur hanger keeps the bike clean on 1x setups. For 2x setups, you can include up to a 44-tooth inner chainring.
For wheels and tires, one of the most important components on a gravel bike, there is an impressive range of options. Standard 700c wheels can fit up to 50mm tires, about 5-10mm more clearance than most gravel bikes offer. If you switch over to 650b or 29” wheels, then you can run 2” tires. These figures of course are in accordance with ISO clearance standards, which means there’s a little bit of extra leeway to squeeze in bigger tires, though at the expense of mud clearance.
Positioned with speed in mind
The Breed Carbon maintains a similar overall position to its alloy cousin, the Breed, in pursuit of a fast race geometry. Stack and reach as well as head tube and seat tube angles remain nearly the same. However, there are slight changes throughout. The chainstays are 10mm longer, 430mm total, than the alloy version, creating a slightly more stable ride fit while creating additional space for tires. (The chain stays, along with the underside of the down tube, also get shielded from rogue rocks with molded rubber protectors).
T47 with a twist
Whatever drivetrain you choose, you will be using the increasingly popular T47 bottom bracket. However, Felt has made its own variation on this standard, called the T47 – 77 ASYMMETRIC. It combines an external cup on the drive-side with an internal cup on the non-drive side — a combination that measures out to about 77mm, hence the name — which Felt says allows the bike to retain the ease of maintenance of T47 while maximizing tire clearance. There’s another benefit to keeping an external bottom bracket cup on the drive-side as well: dropped chains. The external BB cup acts as a place for the chain to rest on should it drop to the inside of the chainrings, preventing it from getting wedged between the frame and crank, potentially leading to damage, as can happen with internal bottom brackets.
The versatility in options extends to storage as well. You can run up to four water bottles depending on the frame size, with sizes larger than 51mm getting a second down tube bottle option, along with mounts on the seat tube and underside of the down tube. And technically, you can fit in a fifth if you place a bottle on the mount on the top of the top tube. Most people will probably opt for a bento box storage bag on this top tube mount, however, and Felt has its own bento box in development.
You may notice the fork is particularly tall on the Breed Carbon, and there’s a very good reason for that. Beyond creating even more space for those large-volume tires, the 420mm fork is made with suspension forks in mind, more of which are hitting the market and are getting better all the time. If you decided to add one in the future, it won’t affect the geometry of the bike. Despite a taller fork, the fit isn’t higher in the front compared to the alloy Breed thanks to Felt shortening the head tube accordingly.
Vibration damping TaperLoc seatpost
Felt introduces comfort into the ride through the seatpost. When running a standard 27.2mm seatpost, the Breed Carbon includes a proprietary, vibration-damping sleeve, part of its TaperLoc seatpost system, which mitigates the high-frequency bumps found on gravel roads.
There is also the option to ditch the vibration-damping sleeve and opt for a 30.6mm seatpost, opening the Breed Carbon up to many dropper post options.
While Felt hasn’t offered up any statistics or data on the Breed Carbon’s aerodynamic performance, there are noticeable aero elements throughout the frame like a seat tube wheel cutout. After all, any bike trying to be the fastest gravel model around can’t neglect aerodynamics, and Felt has a lot of experience with wind tunnel testing and computational fluid dynamics.
Felt says the Breed Carbon frame weighs in at about 1,100 grams. The 420mm fork will also certainly be heavier than a shorter one like the 400mm version found on the alloy Breed. My size 51mm test bike with a Force eTap AXS 1x group and Zipp 303s wheels weighed 8.6kg (approximately 19 pounds).
Pricing and Available Builds
The Breed Carbon will be available in three builds as well as a frameset. A GRX 600 build will cost $3,549, while a GRX 810 build will be $5,249 and a Force eTap AXS build will be $7,549. The frameset will be $2,499 and available in three color options.
There is no set release date yet, due in large part to supply chain woes affecting seemingly every product in the cycling world and beyond, but Felt anticipates bikes will hit shop floors in fall or winter 2022.
First Ride Impressions
Now under the PIERER E-Bikes umbrella of brands, Felt is leaning heavily into its legacy of racing success R&D innovation to create bikes focused on speed. The first gravel bike release under the new ownership certainly lives up to that.
Some bikes you can tell from the get-go will be fast. The Breed Carbon is one of those. My jet-lagged legs were woefully holding me back from unleashing all the performance of the bike on the flats, which is a frustrating experience, knowing the bike has so much more to give than you can in that moment. But better it that way than the other way around. On flat roads and tarmac the bike simply goes, and its race-oriented geometry comes alive.
Riders looking to do some technical riding and descents will likely want to shorten the stem somewhat compared to the road-position set up I got to test, but the bike holds its own on steep gravel descents. Even with 38c tires clearly meant for dry, hard-pack conditions on roads that were muddy and steep, the Breed Carbon held its own through technical descents and rocky, tree-root punctuated single track in the foothills of the Austrian Alps. With a spec better directed toward those conditions, making use of that ample tire clearance, this bike should really come alive with confidence inspiring descending.
The bike also manages to include about as many storage options as we could want without looking bloated or unsightly. This won’t be the right bike for those looking to do big bike-packing adventures all the time, but it’s perfectly suited for long days out where you need all the water and food storage you can get, or short camping excursions.
My time on the Breed Carbon was relatively limited, but it points to an exciting entry into carbon gravel for Felt.