Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bike review - 2007 Felt B2

This bike is fast. And it looks like a stealth bomber. It is priced around 3,400. Need I say more?

I assume the reduced price is meant as a consolation prize to those whose wallets can't or won't support the next bike up in the Felt TT food chain the DA. Long story short was I really liked this bike. I liked the way it felt and handled. And did I mention that it was fast? Okay so on my tests which controlled as much as possible except for wind this bike really stood out. Solid turning, quick acceleration and adequate climbing. The bike is also very aero with many of the components being smooth-faced or tucked out of the wind to reduce drag. The bike was definitely well thought out. So why didn't I buy it? It came down to some small things really. And that isn't to say this isn't a good bike for someone but these are three things I didn't like.

1. Well it wasn't that I didn't like the price. What I didn't like was how the price was achieved. $3400.00 was quite a bit less than I thought I'd be spending on a TT bike. In fact this amount left ample room for some really good racing wheels. And I think this is what the folks at Felt had in mind. Give folks a quality frame at a price point that puts some quality aero wheels in range, perhaps even buy them the same day with the bike. That being said, in order for them to do that you get a mish-mash of components ranging from Dura-ace rear derailleur, to Ultegra freewheel, to an FSA crank and bottom bracket set. So while your frame looks like it came straight from NASA or JPL, your components are from Frankenstein's lab. Honestly I think this was born out by the shifting which I felt was a huge disappointment.

2. For a carbon bike, this bike was heavy weighing in at about 18 or so pounds. Again, we can probably trace some of that weight back to the components.

3. Another good/bad thing really. This bike was really, really stiff. Probably a factor of the high modulus carbon and the lay up. The good news is this makes climbing and accelerating on this bike very lively and responsive. You step on the pedals and you just go. The bad is that the bike ride felt rougher than I would have imagined. Honestly, I could have been on an aluminum frame with my eyes closed and wouldn't have known the difference. But I'm not a big guy. I would guess the ride would feel softer if I were a few pounds heavier. But that would also eat away at the responsiveness of the ride.

All in all if you aren't picky about your components and want a fast bike for your buck that leaves enough for good wheels, the Felt B2 is definitely worth a ride. Oh and as I was looking over the specs again I noticed the free wheel is a "tight" 12-23 and the crank is a 54/42. This probably accounts for the speed factor. What I mean is the gearing on the freewheel is going to be very consistent from gear to gear. That is awesome for a time trial because it means you won't have any dead spots where your gearing is either too hard or too easy for the terrain. But with the 54/42 on the crank, you need to have some strong legs because the 23 on the back is as small as it gets. Translation? Climbing in an area like Austin, say Bee Caves or the Dam Loop won't be easy. Normal gearing on bikes is usually something on the order of a 12-24 and a 53/39 crank. Just something to consider if this is going to be your main training bike.

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