Strengths: Smooth and very stable ride, lightweight, chews up hills, rides fine in hail/rain, durable, carbon fork and seat post very comfy, relaxed geometry great for long distance
Weaknesses: No eyeholes for a bike rack, not the fastest ride compared to your buddy's all carbon velodrome special, uncomfortable bike seat, handlebar tape rips up easily, brakes could be improved
2015 Felt Z85
This is my very first road bike, so I'm not exactly a connoisseur roadie...and I'm also a "recreational cyclist", which means I'm looking more for long-distance comfort over time trials velocity. Having said that, my Felt Z85 feels like a Maserati compared to my station wagon of a hybrid bike. To give you an idea, my hybrid weighs in at 30 lbs compared to my Felt's svelte 20.8 lbs. Add road bike gears over hybrid/mountain gears, and my average speed jumped from 10 MPH to 14 MPH...and that's when I'm just slacking. It's like being on a motorcycle.
On my first real long ride, it started hailing all over me for a good half-hour. The Z85 shrugged it off with no problem, and there was no slipping and sliding. I had to take a uphill hairpin turn, and my back tire slipped a fraction, but instantly corrected itself. The stock "Felt All Weather" tires are surprisingly grippy and stable. The 700x25 width isn't fat, but it isn't thin either, and so far, I haven't felt a need to swap them out. The carbon fork and seat post won't prevent bone-jarring jolts on manholes and potholes, but they keep you in control of the pavement. I even took this ride on some loose gravel, and she did well, considered I still have these slick tires on 'em.
The Z's tube stem is significantly higher than the F-series, and the frame is longer. Open two tabs on your browser and compare a Z bike to a F bike, and you'll see the difference immediately. So, you'll cut back on your aerodynamics, but you'll have a ride that's much easier on your back, shoulders, and neck.
Gears are very responsive (Shimano 105 11-gear, can't really complain). The brakes could be a bit more responsive, but they're adequate to the job.
There are no eyeholes for a bike rack, which I hadn't noticed until I bought a rack. Doh'! I had to get a specially mounted rack with c-clamps, which was a royal pain. Also, the saddle leaves a lot to be desired, and I'll be replacing that soon enough. I mean, this is supposed to be a "Endurance" bike, right? So, you'll need to customize the Z85 a bit to make it a true distance hauler. The tape below the hoods ripped up quickly, and I rewrapped these two pressure points with new wrap and gorilla tape, which seems to have solved the problem.
All in all, the Z85 is a superb entry level road bike with very forgiving handling. I was afraid a road bike would feel like riding a unicycle, but the Z85 is very stable and has an almost hybrid-level of balance. I have wiped out once, and that was taking a wide turn at 10MPH with a heavy and badly attached pannier. (I have since purchased a pannier that properly fits my rack, which keeps the bag from swinging out and throwing off my balance).
Disappointed Felt Customer
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2015
Strengths: Looks nice, reasonbly fast and comfortable.
Weaknesses: Very fragile frame, expensive given the poor material and construction. Felt will not sell end users parts. You are forced to take you bike to a shop for repairs.
I really liked this bike when I first got it but about month after I had it I had a minor crash at about 5 mph. This crash resulted in a bent wheel and a cracked fork. I took it to the bike shop I bought it from and they wanted to chrage me $550+ to fix it. I only paid about $1000 for this bike new. I picked my bike back up unrepaired and tried to order a new fork from Felt but they will not sell end users parts. Apparently they think we are idiots. Maybe I am an idiot for buying such an expensive bike that is such poor quality. Now I am stuck with $1000 dollars of broken bike. I wouldn't waste your time or money buying a bike from Felt,they obviously don't respect their customers.
Weaknesses: Paint (USA - 2012 version ). Brakes - change them immediately if you live in hill country.
One of 3 Felt bikes in my assortment and arguably the one I like the most based on 8500 miles riding experience on this bike during the past 2.5 years. This was my first Felt bike (have also recently purchased an F4 and Z5).
Comfortable and predictable ride, good choice of components out of the box (2012 version anyway). Straight off the sales floor this is a great everyday training bike for the Cat 3-4 racer or the perfect tool for the weekend group rider. The OE build offers both great performance and solid value for the money. Can't add much more to the previous reviews other than to reinforce the positive and say you definitely need to upgrade the brakes. Immediately if you live in hill country.
For someone looking for a long term relationship with this bike note that it is totally worth upgrading the group-set (or individual components) as the stock 105 components wear out. The frame is worthy, even if others might laugh at the idea of putting higer level components on an alloy recreational frame.
I've upgraded my saddle to a Prologo Skratch Pro, the crank to a full size Ultegra 6601, the front and rear mech to Ultegra 6600 and my wheels to Ksyrium Equipe (which came from my F4, which wears Cosmic Carbones). I changed out the brakes to 105 very soon after initial purchase and started riding Conti GP4000s when the OE Vittoria Rubino's wore out. Built up with these components the bike is a very solid trainer or A level group ride bike. You could do a lot worse and might be hard pressed to do better!
The only minor issue I've had is with the paint bubbling-up around the breather holes in the seat stays, seat post clamp area and bottle cage holes. A little irritating since I basically put the bike thru a pro-level cleaning after every ride, but not structural and easily repaired. In fact it probably says a lot about how much I like this bike that I am considering investing in a custom paint scheme in the near future.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: December 27, 2012
Strengths: Overall value for money. Comfortable to ride, confidence building. Mostly 105 Shimano spec. Wheels. Looks (I bought the 2012 model).
Weaknesses: Non shimano 105 brakes, crank and bottom bracket.
Great higher-end beginners bike for €1K. Very comfortable for a first time cyclist to start off on and gain confidence with. Good spec with carbon forks and although this isn't a big one, it looks great. I invested in upgraded brakes, crank and bottom bracket with shimano105 equivalents to complete the set. Delighted with it so far.
Weaknesses: At first, I liked the idea of 23 mm tires, but I accepted the 25's as fine, especially coming from 32's on a hybrid. Brakes are adequate, but not great, as a previous reviewer stated.
This is the first road bike I have owned since Peugot 10 speeds were the style, back in the early 1970's. I must not have ridden much in the mid 1980's to the mid 1990's. I have been using hybrid bikes for the last 17 years, specifically a Trek 7.5FX since October of 2008.
I recently decided to join a bike club, and it seems that everyone in the club is riding a road bike. So I opted to get one as well. I did not want to spend the additional money on a carbon frame at this time, although I can see the wisdom in that choice! I just wanted to be able to "keep up" a bit easier on club trips. I have only logged in 60 or 70 miles thus far on this bike, none with a club,just getting used to the different ride. The compact gearing system is an improvement for me. I am going up moderate inclines much easier. I am not sure about the gearing system going downhills, as I am uncomfortable going more than 25mph anyway. The bike is fairly light, and once I had the stem adjusted during the fitting, I was comfortable. The frame is on the small size, and I am a 6' tall male with a 32" inseam. A 58cm frame is fine for me. I can't say that it would be my size with another brand, due to my lack of experience. As previously stated, the tires are 25mm puncture resistant. Maybe a bit heavy, but....I ride a lot on NYC streets and I don't feel like fixing flats all the time. Perhaps if I had experience with other tires, of if I soley took a train to the suburbs or rural areas, I might change my tune. I don't know. Mine is a 2012 model with a retail list price of $1249. I think that the 2013 is $1349. I bought mine at a discount price of $1060+ tax. I paid an additional $80 for a fitting at the store after I found the bike to be too uncomfortable for me to ride, making the switch from a more upright position to a more agressive stance. That was money well spent! Prior to this purchase, I was thinking of a Trek 1.5 or 2.1, either of which probably would have been a fine choice. Those bikes also come with pedals! However, I have no regrets with my selection of bike or the store which I chose to buy from. I am looking forward to years of riding with this bike, upgrading it as the need arises, or possibly buying a new and completely upgraded bike if that makes more sense. For now, this one is fine!