I needed a new commuter so dropped a touch over £500 on a Felt F85 last week. I had bought it as a disposable bike, something that I was expecting very little from that would take a hiding and just get me to and from work with cheap, replaceable parts. I built it, noted the rubbish spoke tension, the near 10kg weight, the square taper bottom bracket and the plasticy feeling Tiagra shifters. The frame had a nice finish and it's not poor looking bike though, after setting the gears up I took it out for a 30 mile taster.
I'm absolutely gobsmacked. If this is any indication of how the Felt range rides then their top tier bikes must surely be amazing. Yes the rims rubbed on the brake pads during hard cornering, yes the chainrings flexed when really laying down the watts climbing out of the seat but it's just fun incarnate. It's quick, stiff and aggressive yet comfortable and just loves being thrashed onward. As for the Tiagra groupset, it's plasticy and cheap feeling with a long throw and slight delay through the rear derailleur but it's fine (the front derailleur is instant, little to big in a heartbeat, very impressive) This morning I threw the CXp22 rimmed / Felt hub noodles to one side and dressed it in the Ksyriums for another go. (although those stock wheels will probably be fine once I sort out the spoke tension) Really didn't notice the extra 2-3kg over my other bikes, it climbs brilliantly and the fun factor was even more pronounced with the stiffer wheels installed. I even PR'd a local climb.
To cut to the chase, I'm completely amazed. I've owned all manner of bikes over the years from £300 - £4000, from Giant, Trek, Ridley, Specialized, Wilier, Cannondale and others and can safely say this is one of the most enjoyable bikes I've ever owned. Throwing the ksyriums on it to see how it felt with those was really just an excuse to walk past all my carbon and take this out instead.
If you're in the market for a racy bike at around £500 I'm going to be shouting this at you for some time to come. I will never look down my nose at entry level bikes ever again.