Full range of carbon 'cross bikes plus new alloy frames – some with disc brakes
As we hinted back in April at the Sea Otter Classic, Felt's all-new 2012 F2X carbon 'cross bike will merely be the flagship for what will be an impressively complete range of mudders – all of which will be available no later than August.
The US$6,499 F2X will land on store showrooms pretty much exactly how it was shown in Monterey, including the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic transmission, FSA Energy BB30 hollow-forged aluminum cranks with 'cross-specific gearing, TRP's new CX8.4 linear-pull brakes, and custom Fulcrum Racing 3 CX alloy tubeless clinchers with tubeless-ready Vittoria Cross XG tires.
The US$3,499 F3X skips the electronic whizbangery for SRAM's ultralight Red/Force transmission instead, plus a custom solid-forged SRAM BB30 aluminum cranks (again with 'cross-specific gearing), more conventional TRP EuroX wide-profile cantilevers, and Fulcrum Racing 5 CX alloy clinchers.
The F4X is the least expensive carbon 'cross bike in Felt's 2012 range at US$2,799. Component highlights include a Shimano Ultegra 6700 transmission, FSA Energy BB30 cranks, Tektro wide-profile cantilevers, and Fulcrum Racing 7 CX wheels.
All of the carbon FX bikes will use the same UHC Performance frame and all-carbon fork with respective claimed weights of 1,090g for a 55cm size and 540g. According to Felt road product manager Dave Koesel, the company easily could have gone lighter but preferred to keep things a little more durable given the rough-and-tumble nature of 'cross racing.
The one exception is the frameset-only US$1,999 F1X flagship, which will use the same UHC Performance frame as the rest of the carbon FX bikes but a lighter tapered carbon fork from Enve Composites.
Disc brake equipped alloy framed F65X
Felt surprised us, though, with all-new alloy 'cross bikes, too. In contrast to the outgoing F1X, the new frames still with 100 percent 7005 aluminum construction, stays and all. Additional features include 1 1/8-to-1 1/2in tapered front ends, carbon and alloy tapered forks to match, true BB30 bottom brackets, hydroformed "shoulder friendly" top tubes, forged alloy dropouts, and lighter weights than the old F1X at 1,434g as compared to 1,585g.
The US$1,999 F55X will sit at the top of the alloy 'cross bike heap with a Shimano Ultegra 6700 transmission, an FSA Energy BB30 crankset, Fulcrum Racing 7 CX wheels, and Tektro wide-profile cantilevers. Riders on more of a budget may find themselves looking instead at the F75X, which uses the same frameset but Shimano 105 bits, an FSA Omega BB30 crankset, Felt CXR3 Cyclocross wheels, and Tektro wide-profile cantilevers for US$1,449.
Felt unfortunately didn't include the disc-equipped F2X show bike into the '12 range, saying pro riders were logically still awaiting proper full hydraulic systems from component manufacturers to really pull the trigger. That being said, 'cross fans looking to run disc brakes can instead opt for the F65X with its disc-specific alloy 'cross frame and fork – similar to that of the F55X but with 135mm rear hub spacing and dedicated caliper fittings) – outfitted with Avid BB5 brakes, Felt CXR3 Cyclocross wheels, SRAM Apex DoubleTap levers, a custom SRAM S300 BB30 crankset, and SRAM Rival derailleurs.
Though the US$1,999 F55X will obviously be a bit heavier than a rim brake equivalent, Felt has minimized the impact somewhat by speccing lighter Ashima 160/140mm front/rear stainless steel brake rotors with more aggressive cutouts and a 1.6mm thickness. Claimed weight on the front is just 85g while the rear is only 68g.
Wrapping up the '12 Felt 'cross range is the US$1,299 singlespeed Breed, which gets similar upgrades as the rest of the alloy frames but will rear-entry horizontal dropouts, a trick rear thru-axle rear hub that requires just a single 15mm wrench for installation and removal, and a clever BEERNuts tool that attaches to the water bottle bolts.
Mountain bikes – new mid-range Edict and the long-delayed release of the carbon Virtue
Felt Edict Pro
Felt has followed up last year's Edict short-travel cross-country bike introduction with a lower-cost mid-range model to expand its appeal. The new US$5,499 Edict Pro steps down to Felt's UHC Advanced carbon fiber blend (the US$9,999 Edict LTD uses Felt's top-end UHC Ultimate plus Nano mix) and will come equipped with Shimano's latest Deore XT 2x10 group with matching wheels, a Fox 32 F100 FIT Remote fork and RP23 Boost Valve rear shock.
We arrived at Felt's Irvine, California headquarters expecting to see a 29" Edict but alas, mountain bike product manager Andy Stone said that while the company currently has one in development, it just wasn't ready in time. If all goes well, we should see it later in 2012, though.
Last year's carbon fiber Virtue trail bike sneak preview sadly didn’t materialize into a production machine but Felt says its novel Equilink suspension-equipped trail bike is now finally ready to make its way on to showroom floors, complete with further refinements that include a new down tube shape, less weight, and a tougher lower link.
The all-carbon Virtue frame
The top-end US$9,999 Virtue LTD will use Felt's UHC Ultimate plus Nano carbon fiber blend, a Shimano XTR 2x10 group and wheels, a RockShox Revelation World Cup fork, and Fox RP23 rear shock. The next two carbon Virtues – the US$6,999 Virtue Team and US$3,999 Virtue Expert – will step down to the UHC Performance carbon fiber plus SRAM X0 and X7 groups, respectively.
Rounding out the Virtue range is the US$3,499 Virtue Expert with an alloy front end and carbon rear and SRAM X7/X9 component mix, and the all-aluminum Virtue Sport with SRAM X5/X7, a RockShox Recon fork, and Tektro Draco hydraulic disc brakes.
The Nine series of 29er hardtails will continue into '12 mostly unchanged save for spec and color changes. One exception is the carbon range, which uses the same external mold as '11 but new InsideOut internal molds for better material compaction and improved strength. The frame range also gets simplified into two models instead of last year's three: one with Felt's top-end UHC Ultimate plus Nano carbon and the other with the UHC Performance carbon mix.
Frame weight on the Nine Team flagship has actually gone up by 30g. Stone says extra material was added to cater to general trail riders that might abuse the bikes harder than pure cross-country racers that the bike was originally intended for. Claimed weight for the Nine Team frame is still just 1,080g, though, and the second-tier Nine Elite checks in at 1,300g.
Once standard 26"-wheeled hardtails are still included in the 2012 Felt lineup but just barely. The carbon fiber Six has been eliminated completely, leaving just the lowly US$799 Q620 and US$599 Q520 alloy models in its wake.
Road – mostly carryover again save for the awesome new steel F4130
F4130 steel road bike
Felt just launched an awesome new range of F-series road and DA-series time trial/triathlon bikes last year so we weren't surprised to see them carried over for '12 save for changes in spec and graphics plus an expanded range of DA models to suit more budgets. Likewise, the AR, Z, ZW, B, and S-series platforms are also mostly unchanged.
One big surprise, however, is the new US$2,999 F4130 steel road bike built with custom Columbus chromoly tubing and Felt's own BB30 bottom bracket shell. Felt suitably equips this classically styled roadster, too, with Campagnolo Athena 11-speed componentry and custom polished alloy clincher wheels.
Lifestyle and cruiser – new 'tank' frames plus the Dutch-style Verza Regency
The popular Felt Shelby
Felt continues on in 2012 with an extensive collection of Verza and Café urban, city, and commuter bikes to suit most styles and budgets. However, the highlight for us was the upcoming Verza Regency, which takes more than a few design cues from classic Dutch-style machines.
In addition to the traditional men's double-diamond and women's dramatically arcing step-through frame lines are tripod-style rear-mounted kickstands, full fenders, fully enclosed drivetrains, bolt-upright riding positions, rear racks, and custom pseudo riveted and coil sprung saddles – all for just US$699.
Felt's popular cruiser range is topped by the limited edition Shelby model, of which only five hundred have been produced. Styling cues include the iconic Shelby 'Wimbledon White and Guardsman Blue' paint job – using real DuPont paint! – the Abraham Linkage front fork, and Felt's long-running 'tank' alloy frame. Though the Shelby carries a relatively high cost of US$999, Felt says nearly all of them are already sold or reserved.
Felt will eventually replace the current 'tank' alloy cruiser frame with a new model previewed at its launch event. Styling is obviously similar but with a few updates in shape, and Felt says a few variants will be added as well. Expect to see the new cruiser frames around early 2012.
This article originally appeared on BikeRadar