2012 Felt F5 Cycling Top Review

Felt F5 Review
Felt F5 Road Bike

Felt F5 reads like a race bike. It has performance-oriented features such as a drivetrain-stiffening BB30 bottom bracket and a stiff fork for competent handling. On the road, though, it shows that it has more nuance than speed.

Featuring a lightweight carbon fiber frame built to exacting standards through Felt’s state-of-the-art monocoque construction technique, the F5 is equally suited to 40mph sprints or long alpine climbs. Combining a UHC Performance MMC carbon fiber frame and fork with a smart mix of competition-ready components, the F5 would be right at home in any professional race. The lightweight, stiff and razor-sharp ride of the frame, built with Felt’s InsideOut “internally optimized” manufacturing, is perfectly complemented by a SRAM drivetrain, Mavic CXP 22 rims and handpicked performance parts.

I bought the Felt F5. It rides better than the cannondale. The cannondale is built for comfort not speed. I am sold on Felt F5 .  Felt F5 is built around Felt’s FC race frame—the same one the Exergy pro cycling team will race in 2012—and includes an appropriately short head tube (160mm on our 58cm test bike), letting you get out of the wind. But the bike’s compliant ride, compact double crank, and stout Mavic CXP-22 rims make it best suited to solo explorations, spirited group rides, and turbocharged commutes.

Felt F5 sees the bike as a do-it-all road platform. While the 34/25 low gear will let you crawl over any hill, the 50/11 top end is fast enough to sprint for a finish line. The handling and geometry skew to the racer’s preference for fast, nimble reactions, but the UHC Performance carbon 3K weave doesn’t. Instead it gives you a more comfortable ride, which was preferred by some of our testers: “I’d rather have a bike that’s a touch too compliant than one that’s too stiff,” read one ride log.

Much of the bike’s comfort comes from the seat tube and post—Felt makes the tube more flexible and also builds it shorter to increase standover clearance. Increased standover also means that more of the compliant 27.2mm carbon-fiber seatpost is exposed, but the bike is still stiff enough through the drivetrain and bottom bracket for snappy accelerations.

Heavy wheels are the norm on most bikes at this price point, including the F5. Although durable, the Mavic CXP-22 rims and Felt hubs make for a flexy wheelset that kept us from getting the most out of the racey frame on descents, and you’ll feel their presence on climbs. The larger issue, though, may be one of taste: Our test staff, perhaps too obsessed with our bikes’ cleanliness, wished that the Vittoria tires were nearly any color but white. 

Tires aside, the F5’s overall spec is well chosen: The 105 drivetrain performed admirably in a range of conditions, and the Tektro Quartz brakes stopped us securely. The Felt-branded saddle is nicely padded, but some riders might swap it for one that’s slightly firmer.—Andrew J. Bernstein



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