You may not see any World Tour teams riding Felt bikes this season, but don’t let that fool you into thinking Felt bikes haven’t moved ahead in leaps and bounds over the past three to five years. This year’s full range of Felt bikes appears to be the best the company has released, and the F4 slots right in there with the best of them. The carbon F4 is now a true race machine, and I found it a real cracker in most areas of testing.
Felt has developed several unique technologies to insure they stay in the race as one of the best carbon frame builders in the world. They’ve built the F series frame with race geometry, meaning a short head tube and a tight wheelbase. These features are all aimed at producing a good, racing position on the bike. This in turn will allow the bike to perform at its best and the rider to obtain maximum performance.
Felt have invested a lot of time into developing a carbon frame that will withstand all types of terrain, with a variety riders on board and under varying conditions. The F series has 12 separate bikes in its range with the F4 sitting exactly in the middle. Felt also has six different sizes in the F4 from 48cm to 61cm, with a 56cm ridden for this test.
The frames are built using an internally optimised moulding process that eliminates excess material and weight when building their frames. Polyurethane inserts are used inside the frame during the building process to create perfect tubing both on the inside and outside. This elimination of stray carbon saves weight, and Felt exploit this further by placing extra carbon in all of the high stress areas of the bike. The 56cm complete on test here weighed in at 7.29kg, a useful weight for a racing machine and is the same frame found on the higher model F3.
The head tube on the F4 has a controlled taper using a 1 1/8 inch upper bearing and a 1 ½ inch lower bearing. My tests on the bike proved this feature works superbly, with steering and downhill cornering both crisp and precise. The frame has been combined with a straight carbon fork to help shorten the wheelbase and ensure that this bike handles perfectly under all conditions. The F4 is an ideal sprinting machine, being set up quite low at the front and remaining torsionally stiff while letting loose in a sprint.
The F4 has a superb finish and looks a treat. The combination of the matt carbon with the sky blue and white trimmings would have this bike looking totally at home in any pro bunch. Felt bikes were ridden by the Garmin team up until 2010 before Garmin combined with Cervelo. This year Felt has teamed up with Team 1T4i, the former Skill-Shimano squad.
If there was any criticism that could be aimed at this bike it has to be directed to the tyre and wheel combination. With a retail price of $3,199 for a bike of this quality obviously something had to give. Felt have included the Shimano RS20 combined with Vittoria Rubino pro slick tyres. This combination is one of the more basic wheel and tyre combos on the market, so high performance in this area was not a great feature. I did feel in this test that the wheel and tyre combo was a little below the quality of the F4’s frame and components. To ease my curiosity, I decided to race the bike with my own race wheels fitted and the bike was outstanding. This little test proved this was a true race machine and money on a wheel upgrade would not be a waste.
A much better inclusion to the F4 was the FSA SLK light carbon cranks. These cranks look a treat and performed superbly. Any downward force on the pedals, gave an instant response, delivering the power to the back wheel when you need it. I have heard it said that sometimes FSA cranks don’t always work ideally with Shimano chainrings. This could be an urban myth, but I did find that the front derailleur needed adjustment on more than one occasion.
Attached to the cranks are 36 and 52 teeth chainrings. With the F4 being in the middle of the F series range, this combination is in my opinion perfect for its target rider. The small chainring gives more than enough easy resistance, allowing the rider to climb with ease over most bergs, while the 52 tooth chainring allows for good top speed and has enough meat to encourage strength and endurance training.
Cranks aside, the F4 has been fitted with Shimano Ultegra components throughout. As usual, Ultegra components were more than reliable and suited this level of bike perfectly. The Ultegra hoods and comfortable Felt-branded low drop bars made for good hand positioning and a comfortable ride. The bars were 42cm wide and attached with a 110mm Felt stem, which should accommodate the majority of riders. The saddle also was a positive with its polyurethane foam absorbing plenty of bumps and vibrations over rough surfaces. Like many carbon bikes the F4 comes with a matching carbon seatpost that has plenty of length to allow for a high seat position on this compact frame.
Felt has shown a lot of of faith in their F series. There’s a range of carbon types (The F4 uses the same carbon as the F3 and F5, a UHC MMC with a 3KP weave) and with the F Series frame being available across such a large range, you are guaranteed to find one within your budget. This bike rode and handled like it was on rails and looked a treat. Get on it!
Felt continue to improve their finish and style of their bikes. The F4 has been fitted with quality components to a stiff, rigid frame which manages to remain comfortable. and this machine looks a treat.
The handling and balance of the bike is excellent. The short wheelbase and straight fork allow you to descend and corner on this bike like a pro. If you can afford it a top pair of wheels will make it a weapon. As a point of interest, the next model up, the F3 uses SRAM S27 wheels on the same frame. But it’s an extra thousand dollars.
With a retail price of $3,199 this bike rates as good value for money. Allowing for extra money on quality rubber and wheels, this bike would make a great purchase in a market that is becoming super competitive with the high Aussie dollar and the large range of carbon bikes available.
The F4 is in a range of F Series carbon bikes from Felt. This machine sits in the middle of the range but has in no way been left behind in design, technology or construction. It looks great, rides well, feels responsive and is good value for money.
Frame Felt MMC carbon fibre with 3KP weave
Fork Felt Advanced monocoque
Headset FSA Orbit C-40 ACB
Stem Felt SL 6061 aluminium forged
Handlebars Felt VS SL 6061 42cm
Saddle Felt SL road saddle
Seat post Felt UHC Carbon
Shift Levers Shimano Ultegra STI
Brakes Shimano Ultegra
Front derailleur Shimano Ultegra
Rear derailleur Shimano Ultegra SS short cage
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 11-25T
Chain Shimano 10 speed
Crank FSA SL-K Light BB30 172.5mm
Bottom Bracket FSA BB30
Wheels Shimano WH RS20-A 24mm deep
Tyres Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick 700x23c
Distributor FELT Bikes Australia feltbicycles.com/Australia