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.
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.
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.