This year's Felt aero range features everything from high end carbon through to aluminium, and all points in between and there are aero road bikes too.
Felt bicycles have made big inroads in the UK and Europe over the last few years, and they have quickly established themselves as favourites with triathletes and time triallists – Olympic Triathlon Champion Emma Snowsill rides a Felt. This year the company is sponsoring the Garmin Chipotle protour team with time trial specialists David Millar, David Zabriskie and Olympic Champion Bradley Wiggins on their roster the time trial and prologues at this year's big Tours will see Felt tested at the highest level.
Like Cervelo Felt are the one of the first manufacturers to see the benefits of developing ‘aero’ road bikes , a combination of time trial technology, aerodynamic advances and road geometry have created the AR series of bikes. These are the bikes that team Garmin/Chipotle are using on road stages in competitive races this year and they've already performed impressively in the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia riding the Felt AR Garmin spec as pictured here. (One of the whispers at the show was that Quintana Roo are looking to follow Felt’s lead and move into aero road bikes too.)
Let's take a look at the time trial and Triathlon specific bikes seen at the TCR 09 show.
The base triathlon/TT model that Felt produce is the aluminium framed S32 (£1250). This is the only aluminium framed bike in this range and comes kitted out with a mainly with the Shimano 105 groupset the bar end shifters are Dura Ace, but then they're the only such shifter Shimano produce. Like the Merida Warp 5 we tested recently this is a straight from the box TT or triathlon bike. It comes in at a couple of hundred pounds under the Warp 5, but then that is equipped with Shimano's higher spec Ultegtra groupset.
If you've got another £600 to spend then Felt can tempt you with carbon, the B16, £1850 with Shimano 105 and FSA Gossamer chainset, is their entry level carbon TT/tri bike – your money gets you a high modulus carbon frame and fork with internal cable routing and the usual aero features, we've come to expect on this type of bike – seat post-hugging rear wheel and aero optimised tubing and just a hint of recess in the downtube behind the front wheel. Groupset is Shimano 105.
Jim Felt's aero bikes are very much from the skinny almost skeletal 'optimised in the wind tunnel' school of design, even though these days much of the design work is done with CFD sofware (computational flow dyanamics) they are certainly less bulbous and curvy than those designed using the 'optimised on the computer' approach favoured by the likes of Trek or Scott for the TTX and the Plasma… you pays your money.
Trade up a few quid and next stop is the Felt B12 at £2250, essentially the same frame design but in a higher grade of carbon, and Shimano Ultegra replaces the B16's 105. Another £500 buys the Felt B2 at £2750, Dura Ace replaces Ultegra, except for the chainset which reverts to the FSA Gossamer. Again the grade of carbon used in the frame goes up, again and you get Felt's Bayonet aero fork which provides wind cheating aerodynamics and carries on right through to the top of the range DA. The Bayonet steering systems which turns the head tube into the fork steerer – very similar to the Argon 18 and the BMC Time Machine.
There's a SRAM Red version of the B2 as well, the Felt B2R for another £250. The S32 through to the high end B2R are the backbone of the Felt range with something to suit every level of ability and budget. But if you want to got that bit further…
Felt however have two more machines that take the level of performance even higher, and the price tag too naturally both are aimed squarely at the serious amateur or private team market.
A £1500 jump on from the B2R brings you to the Felt B2 Pro at £4500which runs on a Zipp 606 wheelset – that's an 808 on the back and a 404 on the front with full Shimano Dura Ace. Essentially you are getting a B2 with £1500 worth of Zipp wheels on it – the B bikes further down the range all come with Felt own brand wheels plus Felt’s new 2-position UHC Nano carbon fiber base bar which the company says provides superior vibration damping and aerodynamics. Felt's UK distributor, Saddleback also distributes Zipp wheels.
That's not the end of the climb up the Felt aero range right at the top is Felt DA which Felt reckons is the fastest UCI legal bike in the world – it's yours for £5500 with full Shimano Dura Ace 7900 and Felt limited edition Zipp 808.
The Felt DA doesn't just benefit from a fancy wheelset either – it's got a fancy frame too made from UHC-Nano Ultra Hybrid Composite Modulus Modular Carbon Fiber Frame with 3KP Finish – you need the lung capacity of a trained athlete just to say it in one breath.
What all that means is you are getting some very fancy grades of carbon (M30S, SB60, and T700) in pretty much the highest density weave currently being used in bike frames, sadly the 'Nano' bit doesn't mean that there's an army of little nano-bots running around inside the frame waiting to grow you a new top tube should you fall off – which is a shame. What it actually refers to is a process by with nano-particles of carbon are used in the production processs to fill in the small voids between the carbon fibres which otherwise would be filled with resin, as the carbon is what gives the frame is strength and is also lighter than the resin bish, bosh bash, as they undoubtedly don't say down at the Felt factory, you've got yourself a lighter, stronger frame.
Aside from the integrated Bayonet fork other wind-cheating touches include mounting the rear brake on the chainstay and some very fancy tube profiling.
* According to Felt
All bikes are due to arrive in Felt dealerships from mid March
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.