The New Felt IA – One FAST Ride!

Over the last couple of months I’ve had the privilege to ride and race on one serious piece of bicycle technology, the brand new Felt IA.  I thought I’d share some pics and some first impressions as let’s be honest, one of the best parts of triathlon is the bike gear!

The frame is designed to be triathlon specific.  Felt ignored the UCI regulations on frame depth ratios to make it more aerodynamic, so you want see any pros riding this in the time trial at the Tour de France.

The frame is designed to be triathlon specific. Felt ignored the UCI regulations on frame depth ratios to make it more aerodynamic, so you won’t see any pros riding this in the time trial at the Tour de France.

The first thing I noticed on this bike is the serious depth of the frame.  It was designed to be triathlon specific so Felt ignored UCI frame regulations.  This makes for a more aerodynamic bike and believe it or not, the frame was actually designed to deal extremely well with cross winds.  Looking at the frame you would think it would act like a sail on a windy day, but from my experiences so far it handles really well in winds regardless of direction.

Not much for the wind to see there!

Not much for the wind to see there!

Felt did an outstanding job of keeping this bike really clean.  As you can see from the front profile, there’s no cables to see.

I customized the bars and pads in the cockpit to better suit my bike fit needs

I customized the aerobars and pads in the cockpit to better suit my bike fit needs.

The cockpit on this bike is a thing of beauty.  The way the bar integrates with the stem, headtube and front brake fairing is again really really clean.

Ride view of the cockpit

Ride view of the cockpit.

The IA also has an integrated storage area right behind the stem called the CalPac.  You can fit nutrition, spare tubes or just about whatever you want in there.  On a cooler day my preference is to fill it full of smarties.

CalPac storage area without cover

CalPac storage area without cover.

There's a flap that lifts up on the CalPac cover so that you can access things such as gels when you're riding or racing

There’s a flap that lifts up on the CalPac cover so that you can access things such as gels when you’re riding or racing.

The drivetrain on my setup is Shimano Dura Ace Di2.  After riding with it for a week I don’t know if I could ever go back to mechanical on a triathlon bike.  Just having the ability to shift gears with your hands near the brakes really improves ride quality.  Whether I’m riding in a group, climbing Cypress Mountain, or sprinting out of the saddle it makes a big difference having shifters on the pursuit bars.  That way I’m not reaching out with one hand to my aerobars when I need to shift in those situations.  In addition to that, shifting quality is better as you don’t need to worry about cable stretch like you do with mechanical.  It’s a perfect shift every time.

My setup included a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain.

My setup included a Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain.

Multiple shifting locations  makes it hard to ever want to go back to a mechanical drivetrain

Multiple shift locations makes it hard to ever want to go back to a mechanical drivetrain.

Another key feature on the Felt IA is the integrated brakes.  The front brake is hidden underneath a fairing that is easily removed with an allen key.  To make brake adjustments very easy, Felt included a barrel adjuster, which you can see in the photo below.  To bring the brake pads either closer in or out, all you need to do is turn it.  This makes swapping out training wheels for race wheels or just fine tuning your brakes really easy.

Underneath the brake cover you'll find, you guessed it, the front brake and the Junction box for the shifters.

Underneath the brake cover you’ll find, you guessed it, the front brake and the Junction box for the shifters.

The rear brake is also neatly tucked away underneath the frame.  There’s a barrel adjuster for this as well up near the stem hidden under the basebar cover.

The rear brake hidden away.  There's a fairing to cover this as well which I don't have on in the photo.

The rear brake hidden away. There’s a fairing to cover this as well which I don’t have on in the photo.

The saddle that comes stock on this bike which sits atop the massive seatpost is the ISM Adamo Attack.  It took my sit bones a little time getting used to but I’m really happy with this saddle now.  Normally if I have to suffer through a long session on the indoor trainer “certain” parts of my body go completely numb which is not a great feeling by any means, I would like to have a family one day!  The ISM saddle puts all the pressure on your sit bones and doesn’t restrict blood flow.

The saddle that came stock on my Felt IA is the ISM Adamo Attack.

The saddle that came stock on my Felt IA is the ISM Adamo Attack.

From a riding perspective, this bike has just been all around fun to ride.  Where it really shines is where I can motor in my aerobars and bomb the descents.  By no means is it a bad climber, it just doesn’t climb like a road bike, it wasn’t designed for that.  Where I’ve really noticed how aero this bike is is when I’ve been descending in a group, with not much effort I can start to pull away.  It’s obviously harder to notice the aerodynamic gains on the rolling and flat areas but over 20, 40, 90 and especially 180 km’s, this adds up to minutes.  The handling on this bike is fantastic as well, it feels more like a road bike which I like.  It’s got some pop when I’m sprinting out of the saddle and even sounds intimidating without my race wheels on.

I’ve only raced on the bike twice this year but in the North Shore Sprint I went faster than last year on the bike and my bike split was about 2 minutes faster than the next fastest rider (per my calculations, there was timing chip issues.) which is substantial over less than 20 km’s.  At the Shawnigan Lake Trestle Challenge I had an off day on the bike (because apparently I’m a wuss in the cold) but still managed the second fastest bike split of the day including everyone in the Olympic distance race.  Based on that alone I’m pretty confident I’ll be tearing it up this season on this beast of a bike.

The rig set up with Enve 8.9 race wheels ready to tear things up!

The rig set up with Enve 8.9 race wheels ready to tear things up!

A BIG thank you to Dave at North Shore Road Bike and Mike from Felt Bikes.  Without their support there’s no way I would be able to be riding this beauty right now.  North Shore Road Bike carries the whole line of Triathlon, Road, Cyclocross, Lifestyle and Cruiser Felt bikes.  Felt has an incredible amount of options in each category ranging from entry level pricing to bikes like the one I just reviewed.  If you’re into triathlons but don’t want to commit to a Tri specific bike, I would definitely recommend checking out Felt’s AR line.  The AR is an aero road bike that can easily be switched from a tri fit to a road fit, it’s incredibly versatile and has cleaned up in the bike awards category this year just like the Felt IA.

 

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