Last year, we showed you what Felt was doing with its flagship DA bike, when it introduced four new models and price points for its top-of-the-line frame. For 2013, the Irvine-based bicycle company is bringing the technology from that DA-level frame down to the mid-level B-series. The most notable difference is that the B-series drops the Bayonet front end in place of a traditional 1.25" steerer tube and standard fork. This is an increase from Felt's previous standard-steerer bikes, which had used 1-inch bearings. Things get a little wider at 1.25", but Felt smartly keeps things as narrow as possible given that constraint, using an hourglass shape to keep things clean. Almost everything behind the head tube is basically the same as every DA model right up to the $10,000+ version.
Over the last two years, the DA has gone from concept, to flagship bike, and now has trickled down to the company's entry-level series, putting it within reach of many more athletes. It's being released in two complete models, the B2 and the B12 (confusingly, the B16 is still the old frame style). It's also going to be available as a frameset, for $1,759. I love this frame. It's got nearly everything that makes the DA so fast, but dressed down in a very simple package to make it easier to work with. Slap an Omega up front, and it'll have a profile as clean as anything out there.
new change across the entire lineup is Felt's new series of aerobars. The Devox version of the Bayonet bar is going away, and is being replaced by the brand new bars, which will still carry the Bayonet name. The high-end version of the bar is carbon fiber, and has extension mounts that bolt directly to the base bar, in one of two width positions. It makes for a very minimal setup, but the extension mounts will still accept any standard 22.2mm extension, meaning they're quite versatile as well. Pads no longer bolt directly to the extension clamps, as on the previous version, but rather grab the extensions themselves, much like you'd find on a Trek Speed Concept or Specialized S-Works Shiv aerobar. This seems to be the trend others are going. And although this does add weight compared to the alternative, the Felt bar still comes in at a reasonably low 690 grams, even with alloy arm cups and a relatively tall set of 40mm spacers. A lower setup with carbon cups could go down to just north of 600g.
The aluminum version of the bar borrows all of the hardware above the plane of the bars. The difference is that instead of clamping into the bar, it clamps around it, like a traditional clip-on setup. It isn't quite as sleek as the carbon version, but retains all of the adjustability.
The carbon version comes ONLY on the top-end DA1. Every other bar gets the aluminum version. Hopefully the carbon version trickles down at some point, because it is VERY cool. The reason behind its scarcity (for now) is that it's very difficult to produce. Felt has to control both the outside and inside surfaces of the bar in order to achieve its super narrow profile while also guaranteeing compatibility with the 7.2mm Di2 cables.
The big benefit of so much stack adjustment as well as reach adjustment is that the fixed stems on the DA line are no longer the only input into your geometry. They're basically independent of it, and you can more precisely dial in your arm pad position no matter the size of your bike. This frees you to pick a bike based on how its frame reach matches your ideal bike geometry, and fit the pads stack and offset to match. Furthermore, it means you can control with specificity the relationship between your pads and your base bar. That is, let's say you need 10cm of stack from the headset bearing to the top of the pads (this wouldn't be an uncommon value). You can decide whether that's 3cm to the base bar, and another 7cm to the pads, or 7cm to the bar, and just 3cm more to the pads. From an aerodynamic perspective it's usually better to do the former. But for comfort reasons, some people might prefer the latter, and it's great that Felt leaves this option in the hands of the consumer.
Final word on price and availablity of these bars as aftermarket parts is still TBD, but Felt is going to release both versions at some point.
The DA Line
The DA line remains largely untouched. Its top-of-the-line entry, the DA1, has a more advanced carbon layup, designated 'Ultimate', which is a bit lighter and stiffer than the rest of the bikes in Felt's tri lineup, which gets so-called 'MMC Advanced' carbon. Every DA, B2 and B12 model also come stock with the VR bottle designed by TorHans. The bottle was designed exclusively for the frame, to perfectly take up the empty space between the down tube and the seat tube (although TorHans will also sell a universal version).
Felt stressed the 'Inside-Out' tech they've been using for the last couple years. It involves using a urethane bladder rather than a conventional one in order to reduce waste and slop in the molding of carbon fiber frames. Although the outside appearance may be the same from year to year, the 2013 lineup of tri bikes ALL utilize this construction methodology. Felt points out that it not only lets them reduce the weight of the frames, but reduce the harshness from the ride of their frames, compared to overbuilt bikes reputed to be less comfortable in the saddle. The theme of 'ongoing advancement' is one that was echoed throughout Felt's presentation.
As mentioned, the lineup starts at a price point as low as $1,759, for the B12 frameset. Here are the remainder of the lineup's price points:
- DA1 (Di2) - $10,329
- DA2 (Di2) - $7,749
- DA3 - $5,169
- DA4 - $3,729
- B2 (Di2) - $6,199
- B12 - $3,099
- DA1 frameset - $4,649
- DAC frameset - $2,579
- B12 frameset - $1,759
The two lower-end framesets in particular represent a pretty incredible value for someone looking to build up a frame from existing parts, especially the B12. Given the technology lent to it by its older sibling, it's probably the best value in the line.
Have a look at the gallery to get the full visual story on these mean machines.