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
A 20 pound weight is dropped from varying heights to emulate impacts.

A 20 pound weight is dropped from varying heights to emulate impacts (click to enlarge).

One of the highlights of our tour was the fork drop test machine. Basically a rig that holds forks while a 20 lbs weight is dropped on them from varying heights. Soucek stressed that Felt always tests 20% over what the industry standard requires, to insure that their parts will stand up to the abuse. Like any smart manufacturer, they also buy frames from their competition and test those, too. The fork shown here survived almost a dozen impacts from the plus 20% height before it broke. It’s required to survive only one impact.

3D printing has revolutionized the design and testing world across many industries.

3D printing has revolutionized the design and testing world across many industries (click to enlarge).

The next room we were shown had carbon frames being hand laid using Felt’s InsideOut technology. This includes using a mold of pliable (but solid) material that is then expanded from the inside to create the carbon frames.

hand laid carbon mold for carbon frames

This room also included a custom brake caliper testing device that was hand built by one of the Felt engineers. This machine uses a hydraulic actuator to engage the caliper brakes over and over (100,000 cycles and more, to be exact).

This machine was custom made by one of Felt's engineers and can run over 100,000 test cycles.

This machine was custom made by one of Felt’s engineers and can run over 100,000 test cycles (click to enlarge).

Lastly, we were shown a huge CNC mill for building parts and frames on demand. Previously, Felt had to outsource their CNC jobs which would put them at the mercy (and deadline) of the machine shop. Now, with their own CNC machine, they can make parts like suspension linkages on the spot.

With their own CNC machine, Felt engineers can make parts on the spot.

With their own CNC machine, Felt engineers can make parts on the spot (click to enlarge).

A close-up of the CNC'd linkages used on Felt's full suspension mountain bikes.

A close-up of the CNC’d linkages used on Felt’s full suspension mountain bikes (click to enlarge).

After seeing the inner workings of Felt Bicycles, it is obvious that they take their research and development seriously. They have to. When going up against bigger companies like Trek, Specialized and Giant, they have to have innovative products that work or else they won’t last long. Combine all this with real world testing with elite professionals, world champions and Olympic champions and Felt’s dedication and passion to improving the cycling experience for every one becomes evident.

Continue to page 3 to see highlights from Felt’s 2016 road bike models like the IA FRD, AR FRD, F1 and F1x and more »
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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