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Major revamp for 2011 Felt F-Series and DA platforms

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Felt's new F1 makes huge gains in stiffness relative to the outgoing version.

Felt's new F1 makes huge gains in stiffness relative to the outgoing version.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The neat surface finish of the new Felt F1 seat cluster is achieved using a separate external mold just for this area.

The neat surface finish of the new Felt F1 seat cluster is achieved using a separate external mold just for this area.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new 2011 F3 frame sports the same shape as the F1 but with an extra 100g.

The new 2011 F3 frame sports the same shape as the F1 but with an extra 100g.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F3 will use the same modular monocoque construction style as on the old F1.

The new F3 will use the same modular monocoque construction style as on the old F1.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt includes Red DoubleTap levers, derailleurs, and a BB30 crankset on its US$5,000 F3.

Felt includes Red DoubleTap levers, derailleurs, and a BB30 crankset on its US$5,000 F3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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SRAM wheels are featured on the F3.

SRAM wheels are featured on the F3.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt specs a heavier stamped steel SRAM cassette on its F3 instead of the standard Red one - which is fine by us, since that's what many pros run, anyway.

Felt specs a heavier stamped steel SRAM cassette on its F3 instead of the standard Red one - which is fine by us, since that's what many pros run, anyway.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Likewise, the new F3 also gets a tapered front end. Cable stops are standard riveted-on guides instead of the F1's clever interchangeable setup.

Likewise, the new F3 also gets a tapered front end. Cable stops are standard riveted-on guides instead of the F1's clever interchangeable setup.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The F3 also gets a BB30 bottom bracket but with an alloy sleeve instead of a carbon fiber one.

The F3 also gets a BB30 bottom bracket but with an alloy sleeve instead of a carbon fiber one.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's AR aero road platform is essentially unchanged for 2011 - which is fine, considering last year's version already got a significant upgrade.

Felt's AR aero road platform is essentially unchanged for 2011 - which is fine, considering last year's version already got a significant upgrade.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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New versions of the AR readily accept Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wiring (and we'd imagine there's a rubber grommet that's missing here).

New versions of the AR readily accept Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wiring (and we'd imagine there's a rubber grommet that's missing here).
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The rear end of the AR borrows design elements from the DA.

The rear end of the AR borrows design elements from the DA.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's Z-series will continue to offer a higher front end for riders seeking a slightly more relaxed riding position.

Felt's Z-series will continue to offer a higher front end for riders seeking a slightly more relaxed riding position.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Longer head tubes and taller bar heights characterize Felt's popular Z-series.

Longer head tubes and taller bar heights characterize Felt's popular Z-series.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt sticks with a smaller 27.2mm seatpost diameter for better rider comfort.

Felt sticks with a smaller 27.2mm seatpost diameter for better rider comfort.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's F1 even includes these neat reusable 'Fray Done-a-way' cable ends.

Felt's F1 even includes these neat reusable 'Fray Done-a-way' cable ends.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Graphics on Felt's 2011 line is more upscale-looking across the board.

Graphics on Felt's 2011 line is more upscale-looking across the board.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F1 sports a much bigger front end for more precise handling.

The new F1 sports a much bigger front end for more precise handling.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F1 frame surface is totally devoid of flat surfaces as Felt says those are more prone to buckling under load.

The new F1 frame surface is totally devoid of flat surfaces as Felt says those are more prone to buckling under load.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon fork tips are featured on consumer F1s.

Carbon fork tips are featured on consumer F1s.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F1 top tube does away with the abrupt shape changes of the old one in favor of a smoother and more flowing surface.

The new F1 top tube does away with the abrupt shape changes of the old one in favor of a smoother and more flowing surface.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Seat stays on the new F1 have a more rounded shape than before.

Seat stays on the new F1 have a more rounded shape than before.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Rear dropouts are hollow carbon fiber all the way through.

Rear dropouts are hollow carbon fiber all the way through.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon brake housing stops are molded into the top tube.

Carbon brake housing stops are molded into the top tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F1's BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell omits the old model's internal ribs in favor of a fully hollow, thin-walled structure.

The new F1's BB30-compatible bottom bracket shell omits the old model's internal ribs in favor of a fully hollow, thin-walled structure.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new F1 chain stays have grown nearly double in height at the bottom bracket.

The new F1 chain stays have grown nearly double in height at the bottom bracket.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The big hole on the bottom of the shell is normally plugged for Di2 use but it also serves as the mounting point for the cable guide when mechanical setups are used. And see the exit port for the wire here? That's where a conventional front derailleur cable would normally feed up through the frame.

The big hole on the bottom of the shell is normally plugged for Di2 use but it also serves as the mounting point for the cable guide when mechanical setups are used. And see the exit port for the wire here? That's where a conventional front derailleur cable would normally feed up through the frame.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wires enter the underside of the down tube just behind the head tube.

Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wires enter the underside of the down tube just behind the head tube.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Small details include laser-etched alloy bottle hardware.

Small details include laser-etched alloy bottle hardware.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt will carry on with its women's-specific ZW line for 2011.

Felt will carry on with its women's-specific ZW line for 2011.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt includes narrower bars and taller bar heights on its women's-specific ZW series.

Felt includes narrower bars and taller bar heights on its women's-specific ZW series.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt won't offer the new DA flagship in mid-priced versions for 2011 but the B-series gets upgrades across the board.

Felt won't offer the new DA flagship in mid-priced versions for 2011 but the B-series gets upgrades across the board.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Bladders are still used with Felt's new InsideOut polyurethane molds to press the form outward against the carbon plies.

Bladders are still used with Felt's new InsideOut polyurethane molds to press the form outward against the carbon plies.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's InsideOut molding process uses polyurethane inner molds to create more even pressure on the inside of certain frame areas, allowing for more complex shapes and less weight.

Felt's InsideOut molding process uses polyurethane inner molds to create more even pressure on the inside of certain frame areas, allowing for more complex shapes and less weight.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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See those two little steps on the outer surface? The adjoining piece has them, too, and it provides a distinct region for the carbon strips that are then wrapped around the joint, making for a neat and flush surface.

See those two little steps on the outer surface? The adjoining piece has them, too, and it provides a distinct region for the carbon strips that are then wrapped around the joint, making for a neat and flush surface.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This is the lower section of a new Felt F1 after the resin flash is removed and after just a hint of sanding. Felt says the 1K finish is not only eight times more expensive than unidirectional finishes but also much less likely to wrinkle. As testament to the high raw surface quality, it leaves each F1 virtually naked.

This is the lower section of a new Felt F1 after the resin flash is removed and after just a hint of sanding. Felt says the 1K finish is not only eight times more expensive than unidirectional finishes but also much less likely to wrinkle. As testament to the high raw surface quality, it leaves each F1 virtually naked.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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For whatever reason Felt doesn't draw attention to this but hidden within the down tube of both the Z and ZW-series bikes (and the old F) is this internal rib to add stiffness and impact strength.

For whatever reason Felt doesn't draw attention to this but hidden within the down tube of both the Z and ZW-series bikes (and the old F) is this internal rib to add stiffness and impact strength.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon fibers run uninterrupted and kink-free all the way through the fully hollow fork crown on the new F1.

Carbon fibers run uninterrupted and kink-free all the way through the fully hollow fork crown on the new F1.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The lower bearing seat is integrated directly into the new tapered F1 fork.

The lower bearing seat is integrated directly into the new tapered F1 fork.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's cyclo-cross line will carry over mostly unchanged though top-end models will get new BB30 bottom bracket shells.

Felt's cyclo-cross line will carry over mostly unchanged though top-end models will get new BB30 bottom bracket shells.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The 2011 Felt F75X will get a BB30 bottom bracket shell.

The 2011 Felt F75X will get a BB30 bottom bracket shell.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon seat stays are featured on the Felt F75X.

Carbon seat stays are featured on the Felt F75X.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt says its new DA offers nearly a 15 percent improvement in both stiffness and aerodynamics over its predecessor.

Felt says its new DA offers nearly a 15 percent improvement in both stiffness and aerodynamics over its predecessor.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's carbon fiber Devox aero bar will come standard on the complete DA.

Felt's carbon fiber Devox aero bar will come standard on the complete DA.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The DA's front brake closely follows the frontal profile of the Bayonet 3 fork.

The DA's front brake closely follows the frontal profile of the Bayonet 3 fork.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The old F1 used a modular monocoque construction while the new one uses six separate pieces: the top tube/head tube/forward down tube; the upper seat tube; the lower seat tube/bottom bracket shell/chain stays; one-piece seat stays; and a pair of hollow carbon dropouts.

The old F1 used a modular monocoque construction while the new one uses six separate pieces: the top tube/head tube/forward down tube; the upper seat tube; the lower seat tube/bottom bracket shell/chain stays; one-piece seat stays; and a pair of hollow carbon dropouts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's new InsideOut construction process features internal polyurethane molds that can produce far better surface finishes and detail than with standard nylon bladders alone.

Felt's new InsideOut construction process features internal polyurethane molds that can produce far better surface finishes and detail than with standard nylon bladders alone.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The proprietary rear brake is tucked neatly below the chain stays.

The proprietary rear brake is tucked neatly below the chain stays.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Check out the subtle outward kick on the rear edge of the seat tube - Felt says it helps divert air out and around the rear wheel so that the bike can maintain its aerdynamic performance regardless of wheel make and model.

Check out the subtle outward kick on the rear edge of the seat tube - Felt says it helps divert air out and around the rear wheel so that the bike can maintain its aerdynamic performance regardless of wheel make and model.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Small kicks are integrated into the optional Di2-compatible seatpost to redirect air around the battery.

Small kicks are integrated into the optional Di2-compatible seatpost to redirect air around the battery.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The new DA will get a BB30 bottom bracket.

The new DA will get a BB30 bottom bracket.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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There's plenty of room for air to pass through the new seat stay tops.

There's plenty of room for air to pass through the new seat stay tops.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The overall shape of Felt's latest DA revision is more flowing and curvy than before.

The overall shape of Felt's latest DA revision is more flowing and curvy than before.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's new Bayonet 3 front end uses a shallower profile than before but is also narrower, too.

Felt's new Bayonet 3 front end uses a shallower profile than before but is also narrower, too.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt's Devox house-brand aero bar neatly incorporates the extension clamp into the pad mounts.

Felt's Devox house-brand aero bar neatly incorporates the extension clamp into the pad mounts.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt employed computational fluid dynamics software to craft the initial designs then refined the prototype shapes in the wind tunnel.

Felt employed computational fluid dynamics software to craft the initial designs then refined the prototype shapes in the wind tunnel.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Though hidden away from the wind, Felt makes sure the rear brake's mechanicals are still easily accessible for setup and adjustment.

Though hidden away from the wind, Felt makes sure the rear brake's mechanicals are still easily accessible for setup and adjustment.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt will offer its new DA in either a team-spec complete bike or a bare frameset module.

Felt will offer its new DA in either a team-spec complete bike or a bare frameset module.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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This is how the lower section of Felt's new F1 looks straight out of the mold. Note the nearly flawless surface finish.

This is how the lower section of Felt's new F1 looks straight out of the mold. Note the nearly flawless surface finish.
(Image credit: James Huang)
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Felt wasn

Felt wasn
(Image credit: James Huang)
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The tiny custom headset bearings on the new Bayonet 3 fork measure just 17mm across; the inner diameter is just 9mm!

The tiny custom headset bearings on the new Bayonet 3 fork measure just 17mm across; the inner diameter is just 9mm!
(Image credit: James Huang)

Amidst the sea of increasingly lightweight and efficient road bikes currently on the market, Felt's long-running F1 range occupied a tough position. Even at the peak of its development, the 900g F1 SL was light and comfortable but not terribly stiff while the F1 Sprint was impressively rigid but relatively heavy at 1,200g and also not the most forgiving machine given the heavily bolstered tubes.

The do-all F1 Team Edition frames Felt built exclusively for the Garmin-Transitions squad signaled the coming tide, though, as 2011 will bring a new F1 frame that will replace both models. Claimed weight for a bare frame is now just 800g and yet despite the 100g savings, Felt says the new model is also 15 percent stiffer than the Sprint – and a gargantuan 45 percent stiffer than the SL – while also improving on the ride quality as well. According to Felt, this puts the new F1 well ahead of its competitors in terms of stiffness-to-weight, even when including heady company such as the Cervélo R3, Specialized Tarmac SL3 and Cannondale SuperSix Hi-Mod.

Last year's somewhat abrupt tube surface transitions and relatively small cross-sections have been replaced by a far bigger, smoother and more consistently 'flowy' surface that better distributes applied loads throughout the entire structure instead of localizing stress to more concentrated regions.

The top tube and down tube feature squared-off ends to fend off lateral movement while the midsections are more rounded to better combat torsion. As expected, joining the two is a newly tapered and oversized 1 1/8"-to-1 1/2" head tube for better handling.

Down below, the chain stays have nearly doubled in height for more efficient pedaling and are also now anchored at a similarly enlarged BB30-compatible bottom bracket (with a carbon – not alloy – sleeve). The seat stays remain roughly the same depth as before but have more of a rounded shape this time around and the old wishbone-style arrangement has given way to full-length individual stays that better combat rear end wag. Joining the two assemblies are stout hollow full-carbon dropouts.

Felt builds the 2011 F1 with a new 'Dynamic Monocoque Construction' method that augments the usual system of nylon bladders and clamshell external molds with additional high-precision 'InsideOut' polyurethane internal molds. According to Felt (and based on the cutaways we inspected), this yields much more consistent tube surfaces while also allowing for far more intricate shapes and details and cutting down on the need for fillers and foam inserts.

Felt also uses an additional external mold just to join the seat cluster together after the individual components are formed. The precision fixture not only meters out the precise amount of glue for the initial bond but the silicone rubber liner also further compresses the final carbon layers that wrap around the area for better joint integrity and a flawless surface that requires almost no post-mold finishing.

The matching tapered fork is a trick piece of kit as well – and that's aside from the impressive 312g claimed uncut weight. Rather than overbuild the crown to accommodate the usual squared-off base for conventional crown races, Felt uses unbroken fibers running in gentle curves from the stout legs up through the fully hollow crown and into the steerer. Bonded on top of that is a thin aluminum ring that not only integrates the bearing seat directly into its shape but also distributes impact loads over an especially large area on account of the generous bond interface with the fork. Capping the ends are carbon tips, too.

Other details include a clever cable routing setup that can be easily converted between mechanical and electronic drivetrains without having to drill any extra holes. Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 wires and junction boxes are run inside the down tube through suitably size ports, but those ports also serve double duty as the mounting points for bolt-on external housing stops and guides so there's no need to commit to one system or another right from the get-go.

Finally, Felt adopts a more logical methodology for the new six-size range with proportional stack and reach changes and top tube slopes across the board.

One look at the new F1 frameset's drastically puffed-up size provides plenty of visual evidence to support the huge claimed jump in stiffness (and we did the bench test comparison ourselves at Felt's headquarters to see for ourselves, too). But Felt director of research and development Jeff Soucek says the key to the enlivened ride quality (he emphatically describes it as "electric") is the consistently paper-thin tube walls throughout the structure and the gentle shape transitions that don't so much offer more vertical flex but rather change the overall personality of the bike and allow the chassis to behave as more of a homogeneous unit.

Much as a modern steel frame gains its ride quality by thinning out the walls, Soucek says the new F1 is decidedly livelier than even other carbon frames as that skin-like characteristic is carried around the entire structure, including the bottom bracket shell, seat cluster, head tube, and fork crown – not just in the middle of the tubes.

Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to sample that claim for ourselves during the launch and like everyone else, will have a wait a little while as projected availability for the F1 is some time around January.

Felt will offer framesets for US$2,799 and complete bikes (weighing just 6.14kg/13.5lb!) will top out at US$12,499.

Say what?

Long-time Felt followers will note that the new F1's pricing represents a roughly 50 percent jump in cost, which the company justifies with the huge performance bump offered and the concurrent increase in both development and manufacturing cost. In all fairness, none of the F1's six sizes share any frame parts whatsoever so separate molds are required for each of the six sub-sections, there's an additional external seal cluster mold per size, and then there's the tooling for all of the unique internal urethane forms – not to mention the unique lay-up schedules that have been developed for each size, too.

That being said, the good news is that Felt will trickle down nearly all of the F1's benefits into the rest of the new F range, too. All models will share identical outer shapes but use a more conventional modular monocoque construction, less advanced fiber blends, aluminum bottom bracket shells instead of carbon ones, and dedicated mechanical cable stops. According to Felt, stiffness figures remain identical across the F-series lineup, there's only a 100g weight penalty (plus a few more for the forks), and there will still be high-end build kits for racers on a budget.

How much of a budget, you ask? The complete F3 will cost US$4,999 with a SRAM Red drivetrain and SRAM S30AL wheels – and will weigh just 6.7kg (14.8lb) without pedals. A complete F5 climbs to 7.9kg (17.4lb) on account of its humbler Shimano 105 component mix but total price is a very attainable US$1,999.

Filling in the rest of the range is the Di2-equipped F2 for US$6,999 and the US$2,999 F4 with Shimano Ultegra.

Speedier DA for 2011

Also coming in 2011 from Felt is a revamped DA time trial/triathlon machine that retains the overall weight of its predecessor but makes nearly 15 percent gains in both aerodynamic performance and chassis rigidity.

First and foremost is the lighter and pared-down Bayonet 3 front end. Though it uses a shallower section than the original Bayonet, Felt pairs the new version with custom 9mm (internal diameter) headset bearings for an ultra-narrow front end from top to bottom that measures just 38mm across – thus ensuring the numbers stay well within the UCI's latest interpretation of its dimensional rules while netting even better drag numbers than before.

Moreover, the external steerer and dual bracing points offer better steering precision than conventional 1 1/8" setups, similar to the effect of dual-crown forks on mountain bikes.

As with the F1, Felt's InsideOut internal molding techniques play a role in the updated DA's shape, especially at the top of the seat stays, which are sharper and cleaner than before. Overall, though, this latest version is an altogether smoother and more organic-looking structure with a gently curving seat tube and down tube plus far more bulbous chain stays.

Felt has also worked to retain the DA's aerodynamic performance with as many wheel designs as possible. Instead of using a straight-sided seat tube, the new DA seat tube incorporates small 'kicks' along its rear edges that are said to divert air out around the rear wheel. Similar flares are included on the optional Di2-compatible seatpost to smooth airflow over the attached battery.

Speaking of Di2, the new DA also features a higher level of component integration with internal cable routing compatible with Shimano's electronic connectors and a battery mount tucked beneath the non-driveside chain stay (Felt says the Garmin-Transitions team's seatpost-mounted battery setup requires too much seatpost extension and a custom wiring harness so it's not standard for consumers).

In addition, the custom rear brake caliper is integrated into the chain stays (which are still externally accessible for easier adjustment and setup and now compatible with all cranks), the stem now lies in-line with the top tube for cleaner airflow (consumer versions will be hinged for greater positioning flexibility), and there's a BB30 bottom bracket shell.

Felt will offer the DA in a single complete model for about US$12,500 with full-blown team spec or a frame kit for DIYers. Pricing on the module is still to be determined but is expected to be under US$5,000.

For now, Felt has no plans to release a lower-priced version of its DA flagship but 2011 will see upgrades to the B-series of aero bikes for riders on more of a realistic budget.