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.
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.
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).
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.
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.