The 2009 Felt F75 is
the most advanced version of this strong, versatile "entry-plus"
Compromise can be an ugly word.
It means you have to give something up, give something
away in exchange for something else. In the case of an
entry level bike the compromise is usually a list of excuses
to justify an entry level price. Bikes at the entry level
price category are typically watered down, dumbed down
bikes with an emphasis on comfort to the point of pandering.
The performance goes out the window when the price comes
down. It’s as if bike companies hold true performance
hostage until you’re willing to pay a certain ransom.
Felt bicycle rescued the hostages
with a daring raid on their venerable F75 road bike. The
F75 has been around for years and began to straddle the
fence of a comfort/entry level bike. Like a politician
trying to be all things to all people the inevitable result
is compromise so great the bike will do a lot but isn’t
particularly good at much.
Full Carbon Fiber Fork with Carbon Fiber
Steer Tube and Crown.
B. Shimano 105 STI
10 Speed Dual Control Lever.
C. 31.8 mm Constant
Taper Aerobar Compatible Ergonomic Handlebars.
D. Mavic CXP22 Rims
w/dt Swiss Spokes (28) on Felt Hubs (32 spokes
E. Vittoria Zaffiro
Kevlar Belted Flat Resistant Tires.
F. Shimano F600 Alloy
Crank w/CNC Chainrings 50/34.
G. Full Carbon Fiber
H. Felt 1.3 SLR inspired
Saddle w/ hollow Cro-moly Rails.
I. Tektro Dual Pivot
Brake Calipers w/ Koolstop Brake.
J. Shimano 105 Short
Cage 10 Speed Rear Derailleur.
K. Custom molded
Monocoque Carbon Fiber Seat Stay.
L. 7075 Custom Butted,
Externally Shaped Aluminum Frameset.
M. Shimano 105 10
Speed Compact Specific Front Derailleur.
Felt got off the fence with
the F75 for 2009: It’s a real bike now: a true high
performance bike in the world of watered down compromise
bikes below $2000.
The 2009 Felt F75 vaults forward
in component spec and frame design with re-designed dropouts
inherited from Felt’s Tour de France team frames,
an all carbon fiber fork- and I mean all carbon fiber
including steer tube, crown and blades, size specific
head tubes tuned for ride quality and handling, new lighter,
more compliant rear end design with one piece seat stay
interface, butting thickness ratios trickled down from
Felt’s highest end Scandium road frames, a new higher
performance wheel spec (custom built and speced by Felt)
and a host of other race bred upgrades. These improvements
swing the bike out of the mamby-pamby category and into
the real world, high performance bike category- likely
the least expensive true performance bike available.
fiber wishbone seat stay is attached to frame size
specific drop-outs, different for each frame size.
This carbon fiber seat stay improves ride quality
by damping road vibration.
The handlebars do not taper
down after leaving the stem: You can securely mount
aerobars on the F75. This is an impressive detail
missing from other bikes in this category.
|If the devil is in the details the F75 is possessed.
Race ready details abound: The handlebars are aero
posture, ergo bend racing bars. The top section of
the bar maintains a constant 31.8 mm diameter from
stem to handlebar tape enabling the use of aerobars.
Many other bikes use a tapered top section bar that
you can’t clamp aerobars to. Additionally, seat
tube angles on the smaller frame size F75’s
are aerobar compatible, enabling the rider to maintain
an open torso to femur bone angle while in the aero
position using clip-ons. This is an important consideration
for the performance, athletic road rider who would
like to keep the option of trying triathlons or duathlons
The head tube of the
frame is internally relieved, a feature no customer
will see but one that helps reduce frame weight
in smaller frame sizes and improve ride comfort.
The reinforced, thicker wall tubes in the larger
frame sizes provide better ride stiffness and durability
on bikes with longer frame tubes.
From 2008 to 2009 the F75 lost a significant
amount of weight. Its weight loss program includes
a change to a full carbon fiber fork with carbon
steer tube and crown that weighs a scant 400 grams.
The relieved head tube reduces weight. The seatpost
is a true all carbon fiber post- not a faux carbon
wrapped aluminum post as used on other bikes in
this price category. The post is a bantam weight
175 grams. Frame weight has been reduced by the
use of a size specific rear end with a one piece
rear dropout design. This design means Felt must
have separate dropouts with different angles for
all seven frame sizes, a significant expense but
a necessary one for true high performance, comfort,
dependable durability and lightest weight.
Shimano 105 STI Dual Control
10 speed shift levers.
Another area Felt saved weight
in sub-$2000 bike specifications is the wheels. The new
2009 Felt F75 uses a custom wheelset speced by Felt specifically
for this bike. No stock wheelset from Shimano, Alex or
other pre-built wheel vendors can match this spec: Mavic
CXP22 rims built with DT Swiss Spokes on forged aluminum
alloy hubs with sealed bearing in the rear. The wheels
are differentially laced, 28 hole radial in the front
and 32 cross three in the rear.
Custom built Mavic CXP 22
rims with DT Swiss Stainless Spokes, 28 spokes front,
All these combined weight reductions
shaved the Felt F75 down to 18 pounds, an impressive
figure for a carbon fiber/aluminum combination frame
with a Shimano 105 component spec and custom wheels.
This light weight makes the bike more responsive
and agile, a quality customers always enjoy in a
performance bike. The Felt F75 rides like a bike
costing much more.
One of the first things you
may notice about the F75 compared any other road bike
below $2000 is that it does actually look like a race
bike. The bike has a roughly horizontal top tube and snappy
enough head tube angle to maintain good steering response.
Steering is precise and responsive, not sleepy and sluggish
as with the high head tube, “comfort” road
bikes in this price category from other manufacturers.
A lot of this owes to good weight distribution on the
F75 with a mounted rider. So called “comfort”
or high head tube compromise bikes that dominate this
price category shift the rider’s weight onto the
rear wheel. The more weight on the rear wheel the less
the front wheel responds to steering input and the more
pedestrian the bike feels. Felt’s race inspired
frame geometry and fit on the F75 provides equitable weight
distribution for sure footed handling.
If there is compromise
anywhere on the bike it is in two areas I can live
with: The brakes and the tires. As with any good
compromise, you get something back when you give
something up. Felt speced the relatively heavy Vittoria
Zaffiro tire on the F75. In exchange you get great
tire durability. This is a refreshing change from
the traditional spec at this price point which is
the Vittoria Pro Slick. The Pro Slick rides great
but is short on durability. It’s beefier,
more flat resistant brother, the Zaffiro, has a
flat resistant Kevlar belt that means you spend
more time riding and less time changing flats.
The F75 is nearly a “pure”
Shimano spec bike until you get to the brake calipers.
These are upgraded Tektro calipers with metal barrel
adjusters and Felt custom spec Koolstop brand brake
pads. Koolstop brake pads are a popular aftermarket
upgrade item and $19.99. Koolstop makes the carbon
fiber specific brake pads for Zipp wheels. They
come stock on the Felt. We found the up spec to
the Koolstop pads is a better decision than using
the Shimano calipers: The pads exert more influence
on the stopping power of the brake system than does
the caliper. In any event, the Tektro calipers have
an uncanny resemblance to the OEM Shimano non-series
brake caliper Felt could have provided- but with
lesser brake pads than the Koolstop shod Tektros.
Vittoria's Zaffiro kevlar belted, flat resistant
700 X 23c tire.
The Tektro Dual Pivot brakes
use high end Koolstop brand pads.
Excellent front shifting
is insured by the Shimano Crank and Chainrings.
Even fitting details such
as size-specifc, correctly proportioned crank
arms help insure an accurate fit and position.
the single largest component upgrade on the F75
is the crank. The Shimano compact crank provides
the best front shifting you will experience south
of Shimano’s highest end Dura-Ace components
on $5000 bikes. The chainrings, stiff crank spider
and dependable front derailleur move the chain reliably
from the small ring up to the big- any bike’s
most difficult shift. This is a particularly important
upgrade for newer road riders who don’t have
the experience the finesse a finicky drivetrain.
Because of the Shimano crank on the F75 you will
always have dependable front shifting.
The transmission on
the F75 is Shimano 105. When new riders do research
on components they find the best value component
group is Shimano’s tried and true 105 10-speed.
This is the go-to new rider’s performance
component kit. Shimano 105 has been consistently
updated for more than a decade and incorporates
many features trickled down from previous Dura-Ace
components like the cog shift ramp design and derailleur
actuation along with the way the Shimano 105 STI
shift levers work. From shifter to rear derailleur
the F75 uses the latest version of Shimano 105 10-speed.
The rear derailleur is the short cage version of
105 delivering the fastest, close-ratio rear shifting
performance available at this price.
Shimano's venerable 2009
105 10 speed short cage rear derailleur, the best
shifting version of the 105 derailleur.
This is the taper in the
seat tube as it transitions toward the bottom bracket
improving stiffness and ride quality.
The tubeset is custom butted with size specific
butting placements, wall thicknesses and tapers.
Overall construction of the F75
frame is custom butted 7075 aluminum with a carbon
fiber wishbone seat stay assembly. “Custom”
butted means the tubes varying in wall thickness
over their length using transitions specified by
Felt. The butting, differential of thickness and
location of the butting is different in each frame
size. The carbon fiber wishbone seat stay adds some
weight to the F75 but increases shock absorption
enough to notice as compared to an all aluminum
frame. You simply don’t feel the bumps as
much with the carbon rear end. Add the all carbon
fiber fork and the carbon fiber seatpost and you
have carbon where you need it, aluminum where you
don’t want to pay for it.
Talk to any experienced cyclist and they will say
"Pay attention to frame quality when buying".
Components are upgradeable at minimal cost but the
frame is the heart of the bike. Felt put significant
emphasis on frame quality with meticulous weld quality
usually seen on expensive custom bikes. The attention
paid to the frame adds significant value to the
F75. Again, this is a real bike with a beautifully
made frame and the ride quality you'd expect from
a high end frame. No excuses here: Great comfort,
stiffness, light weight and durability. It is a
very good integration of frame design and construction
Riding the F75 is like getting
a free cup of really good coffee: It’s a nice surprise,
invigorating and less expensive than you’d think.
There is a joke among the guys in the store, “Never
let a guy buying a $3500 road bike ride an F75. If he
did, we’d have some explaining to do…”
The ride of the new Felt F75 is that good. Most of what
makes the F75 work well is very basic: Good frame geometry
and proportions. There are seven sizes in the F75 with
tubing and angles tuned specifically for each size bike.
Every component on the F75 has been proven as a viable
after market component. It’s all proven, all functional,
all workmanlike. The F75 is not a new bike but the 2009
version has renewed the direction of the model. Even the
new color scheme, after years of being a black bike, has
adopted a race-bred graphics story and a vibrant new color
palette that exudes speed and performance. This isn’t
a lame bike.
frame workmanship is evident at the welds. Frame details
abound such as the cable housing protectors on the
head tube and the modular/replaceable seat post binder
It isn’t difficult to
make a bike handle well, corner with a sense of control,
have good bottom bracket stiffness and nice comfort after
five hours and provide solid, repeatable mechanical dependability.
Other bike manufacturers simply chose not to. They have
decided to chase a different market, believing that new
triathletes, racers and athletic riders buy bikes above
$2000. Judging by their 2009 line ups, most bike companies
believe buyers under $2000 want high handlebars, short
top tubes, upright positions, gel saddles and bikes that
handle like a loaded wagon. While there is a place for
the geriatric, upright, high handlebar “comfort
road” bike the high price of valid performance bikes
have kept a lot of new riders off really nice equipment.
The F75 changes that by offering a genuine performance
road bike well below $2000.If all you do is tour coffee
shops and bakeries on Sunday mornings the F75 isn’t
your bike. If you’re interested in staying in the
Wednesday night club ride, trying a triathlon but also
trading fast pulls at the front of a group ride including
a couple spirited corners and accelerations then you are
better off on an F75 than a dumbed down “comfort
The F75 is a bike we’ve
bought for years and the 2009 version is a welcomed and
exciting upgrade and a move in the right direction for
the bike. While most bikes below $2000 pander to a transient
fitness cyclist who is not likely to explore the sport
extensively the F75 is a valid entry to performance cycling
that doesn’t talk down to the new rider. After years
of looking for its niche in the market the F75 has now
become the performance aspiring rider’s real deal.
Felt's F75 is reborn for 2009,
more defined and upgraded than any previous version.