Felt World Headquarters Tour and Road Bike lineup for 2016

We visit Felt Bicycle's headquarters to take a look behind the scenes.

Aero Cross Road Bike
None other than Marcel Kittel's race bike at rest in the lobby.

None other than Marcel Kittel’s race bike at rest in the lobby (click to enlarge).

RoadBikeReview was recently invited to the Felt Bicycles World Headquarters in Irvine, CA for the introduction of their 2016 bicycle line as well as a tour of their R&D, design, engineering and testing facility. With such deep roots in aerodynamics, racing and tri/tt bikes, it was a treat to see how these bikes come to life.

As we entered the facility, the lobby is strewn with autographed jerseys from the many champions that have ridden Felt bikes.

Our tour guide was Senior Design Engineer, Jeff Soucek who took us into the first office where computer aided design is used to draw up the preliminary designs. These designs are then tested using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and FEA testing software.

Jeff Soucek, Senior Design Engineer (standing) shows us how computers are used for design and analysis.

Jeff Soucek, Senior Design Engineer (standing) shows us how computers are used for design and analysis (click to enlarge).

From here, we continued into another room that lead to two more engineering workstations for even further (and more complex) testing and analysis. Continuing on, we were lead to a larger room that included a pretty massive 3D printer and several tables with jigs set-up for assembling test parts and then putting them through their paces.

The jig is made to hold many different shaped parts and frames.

The jig is made to hold many different shaped parts and frames (click to enlarge).

As massive as this 3D printer is, it can't make a full size bike frame.

As massive as this 3D printer is, it can’t make a full size bike frame (click to enlarge).

Since the 3D printer can only make pieces that are so big, complete frames are made out of several smaller pieces that are then put together. Of course, things like structural strength can not be tested on these mock-up frames, but it gives a good idea about bike shape and layout and helps with such things like water bottle boss placement and geometry.

Shown here is an example of a 3D printed frame that has been assembled.

Shown here is an example of a 3D printed frame that has been assembled (click to enlarge).

Continue to page 2 for more Felt World Headquarters tour photos including the testing, carbon layup and more »
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About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato enjoys riding local Portolla Valley roads. Besides being an avid cyclist, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.

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  • Dave says:

    Felt just doesn’t get it when it comes to marketing their bike. You have to buy their bikes/frames through local dealers only. The dealers don’t ship as well. It’s walk in or nothing. If you are looking at the high end stuff, you have to pay all up front. No stores carry any floor models of the top end bikes. I was looking at the F1 and F1 PR frame online. That’s as close as you can get. I also found that most shops don’t even want to deal with frame sales. Not a big enough profit margin.
    Don’t even bother Felt with emails as they will go unanswered. You have to deal with the local shops if you have any questions. Ask yourself, what happens if the shop goes out of business and your Felt has a warranty issue. Who do you call?

  • DE says:

    Always loved me old Felt; rode it until the frame broke. Would ride Felt again, but these prices really are over the top.

  • Bob says:

    I like the fact that Felt still uses BB30. Simple to install and maintain. Very efficient and easy to find cranks. Like the other guy said, Its just too difficult to view an F1 frame or bike at any local shop. They’re just not out there. And I’m in So. Cal….Not far from Felt Headquarters.

  • edolescent says:

    My wife and I have had matching 2016 Z2 Disc bikes for a few months now. They’ve been a mix of disappointment and delight. (We ordered them before the specs were finalized.) The Rotor cranks are a big downgrade from Shimano; certainly not befitting a bike of this caliber. Both our bikes had a crank cross-chain issue. When in the small ring and any of the 3-4 smallest cassette cogs, the chain rubbed on the inside of the big ring rendering those gear combinations unusable. Felt/Rotor/our LBS worked out a solution to this design problem by reducing the spacing on the crank’s non-drive side a bit and increasing it on the drive side. It works, except for the small/small gear combo which I wouldn’t admit to using anyway. And beware of Felt’s fine print: the “Shimano Cassette” is actually 105. Certainly not what someone pays top-dollar for! All this and a few other nit-picks (e.g., terrible graphics) aside, this bike rides great. Climbs like a champ, handles well in the corners and a comfortable geometry for longer rides. The Ultegra Di2 and hydraulic disc brakes are big features, too.

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