First look: 2011 Felt Edict and Virtue

Long-awaited XC racer joins the flock and all-new carbon and alloy trail bike frames

Felt issues its Edict on cross-country racing

Felt has filled in a long-standing gap in its off-road range with the introduction of the 2011 Edict, a carbon fiber full-suspension cross country racer with just 100mm of travel and weighing just over 2kg (4.4kg) with rear shock.

Primary design goals on the Edict were light weight, stiffness, and pedaling efficiency above all else and to that end, Felt opted to forego its proven Equilink suspension layout in favor of a simpler modified single-pivot arrangement with forged aluminum links driving a short RockShox Monarch air shock.

For similar reasons, Felt build the Edict with a one-piece carbon rear end that relies on a tuned flex pattern to accommodate the slight geometry changes that occur as the rear wheel moves through the travel. According to Felt, eliminating traditional rear dropout pivots reduces weight and improves lateral and torsional rigidity and frame designer Mike Ducharme even uses the very slight built-in spring rate to assist the pedaling efficiency, too – with no rear shock installed, the back end of the Edict naturally wants to sit at the prescribed 30 percent sag point.

The front triangle is a decidedly bulbous-looking carbon fiber unit that boasts a tapered 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" front end, an aggressively sloping top tube and extended seat tube support, and a mix of internal and external cable routing. Hardware is a mix of 6Al-4V titanium and anodized aluminum throughout and Ducharme says the entire frame's worth of nuts, pivot sleeves and bolts weighs just 120g.

The day's schedule unfortunately didn't leave any time for a test ride but Felt's in-house lab numbers suggest the Edict will be a ripping ride. According to Felt, the Edict offers the same strength but five percent additional over the current Merida Ninety-Six cross-country benchmark while also coming in 150g lighter.

The complete Edict LTD will go for US$8,999 with SRAM XX and Mavic Crossmax SLR while the second-tier Pro model steps down to a Shimano Deore XT group and wheels for US$5,499. Felt will also offer the Edict as a frame-only option for US$2,999.

2011 Felt Virtue gets the carbon treatment, too

Felt also introduced the expected full-carbon version of its long-running Virtue trail bike platform, too, with all-new carbon fiber front and rear ends that bring the frame and shock weight down to 2.5kg (5.5lb). Rear wheel travel is also now adjustable between 120 and 130mm with concurrent head tube angles of 69 and 68.5 degrees.

The carbon fiber Virtue frame will continue on with Felt's six-bar Equilink suspension system but further revisions to the tie-rod that joins the upper and lower links shed a few surplus grams. Last year's needle bearings and small-diameter stainless steel pivot shafts have given way to DU bushings – similar to what's used on rear shock eyelets – and larger-diameter hollow stainless steel axles, all fixed in place with simplified hardware that should be more resistant to loosening and easier to work on. As before, the other pivots are still fitted with sealed cartridge bearings and laser-etched and anodized alloy shields.

The rear end is a further evolution of the previous Virtue 1's one-piece carbon flexstays but the front end is all new with a tapered head tube and fully guided internal derailleur cable routing to better maintain shift performance in poor weather.

The top-end Virtue LTD will fetch US$8,999 with Shimano's new XTR group and matching wheels; the Virtue Team will go for US$5,999 with a 3x10 SRAM X0 group and Mavic Crossmax ST wheels; and there will also be a Virtue Elite for US$3,499 with a 3x10 SRAM X7/X9 package and traditional wheels built with Mavic X317 rims.

Felt will also offer the Virtue LTD (which also features upgraded carbon fiber blends and titanium hardware) as a frame kit for US$2,999.

All-new full alloy Virtue

Riders on a more realistic budget (or those living in particularly abusive environments) will be happy to hear that Felt as also completely revamped the alloy Virtue, too, with an all-new aluminum frame that shares the same features as the carbon version but with a little more weight.

Hydroformed tubes are used extensively in both the front and rear ends, including the top tube with its integrated seat tube extension support, the new one-piece seat tube (which replaces the older, and much heavier, welded three-piece one), and the one-piece looped seat stays.

Once again, there's a tapered head tube up front and Felt's revised Equilink system out back with new DU tie-rod bushings and forged alloy links. The rear brake caliper is tucked inside the rear triangle on the alloy Virtue, though, and cable routing is fully external throughout.

The Virtue Expert will come with SRAM X7/X9 for US$2,799 and the entry-level Virtue Sport will feature Shimano Alivio and Deore bits for US$1,999.

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