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Felt branches out in MTB

Published July 18, 2012

IRVINE, CA (BRAIN)Felt Bicycles unveiled its 2013 performance line during a media day at its headquarters on Monday, emphasizing expansion of its mountain lineup and a more targeted 26-inch approach.

Spearheading what Felt calls a return to a “full” mountain bike line is the 160-millimeter all-mountain Compulsion.

The company cites what it views as a consumer shift toward 29ers as a “default” mountain-bike purchase as the reason for refocusing its 26-inch offerings and returning to long-travel territory.

“You can’t be this powerhouse in road and tri and only have two mountain bike models,” Eddie McDonald, mountain bike marketing assistant and proponent of the Compulsion, told BRAIN. “We are very serious about enduro racing.”

The previous 150-millimeter incarnation of the Compulsion was retired in 2011, and although Europe saw an alloy version of the redesign in 2012, the revamped model returns stateside with three versions for 2013. Built around Felt’s Equilink—adjustable between 150 and 160 millimeters of travel with the flip of a geometry chip—the Compulsion LT1 (MSRP: $6,199) and LT3 ($4,149) are made of UHC carbon, while the LT50 ($2,899) is aluminum. The Compulsion will also be offered as a carbon frame-only option ($3,099). All Compulsions have an aluminum rear triangle.

The new frame features more aggressive geometry. With the 160-millimeter Fox 34 Float, the head angle sits at 67.5 degrees. Flip the chip, reducing the rear travel to 150 millimeters, and the head angle slackens nearly a full degree.

Also new to the mountain line is the Edict Nine—Felt’s first full-suspension 29er—recently unveiled during the Sea Otter Classic and what Jeff Soucek, Felt’s director of research and development, deemed the fat-tire star of 2013.

“We were the first to do a size-run of hardtail carbon 29ers,” Soucek told BRAIN of Felt’s pioneering role in introducing big wheels. “And everyone wanted us to have a carbon 29er suspension bike. We had it ready, but it wasn’t good enough, so we held off another year,” he said of the anticipation surrounding the release.

Like the 26-inch Edict, the Edict Nine utilizes Felt’s FAST—for Felt Active Stay Technology—linkage, in which the carbon seatstays act like leaf springs, flexing to create what Felt says is an active, responsive platform designed to be light, simple and efficient enough for the most discriminating of cross-country racers for whom the Equilink was too “complicated.” The carbon Edict Nine LTD ($9,299) tops the line, but McDonald emphatically points out that even the aluminum Edict Nine 60, which still uses a carbon rear triangle in order to utilize FAST, delivers the same design, technology and quality ride of the flagship offering at a much lower price point ($2,069)—an ethos echoed across the brand.

“We pride ourselves on making bikes accessible,” McDonald said.

The carbon Nine 1 ($6,199), Nine 3 ($3,629) and LTD frame ($3,099), along with the aluminum (front triangle) Nine 50 ($2,899), round out the Edict Nine series.

The hardtail Nine series sees a complete frame redesign as well as the addition of two new sizes: 14- and 22-inch. The new frame geometry was tweaked to accommodate longer 100-millimeter forks while retaining sharp handling characteristics.

Felt claims that the new carbon Nine is 50 percent stiffer than the old aluminum version and lighter than the previous carbon frame. The company says the frame of the new entry-level carbon Nine 3 ($2,799 complete build) weighs in at 1,120 grams—nearly the same as the old top-of-the-line SL frame. The Nine 1 ($6,199) tips the scales at just 1,000 grams and the halo frame-only FRD ($2,899) comes in at a scant 900 grams. The latter is a feat achieved by employing TeXtreme spread-tow technology, brainchild of Swedish composite-reinforcement company Oxeon.

The Nine line also sees the introduction of InForce Carbon Shield technology, in which woven material is sandwiched around carbon fiber in vulnerable areas, dissipating impact much like a bullet-proof vest, according to Felt.

Felt also continues to maintain a firm grasp on the road, track, triathlon, time trial and cyclocross categories.

Highlights include the recently launched Custom Paint Program, which allows the customization of an F Series frame to be designed on Felt’s website and delivered to local dealers; the addition of the Bayonet 3 handlebar to the TK track line, allowing 100 millimeters of vertical and near-infinite fore/aft adjustment without changing the stem; the addition of disc brakes and tubeless wheels to the FX cyclocross line; and greatly reduced drag on AR aero bikes via the use of specially designed clincher tires.

—Don Stefanovich

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