Felt’s new carbon racing machine, the FR, has a legacy rooted in the thoroughbred F-series race tuned frames of the past. The new FR has a clean look, stripped of most cosmetic features and focused on being a lightweight, stiff, yet comfortable all-around build from the Irvine, California based company.
Professional riders Robin Carpenter and Travis McCabe from the Holowesko Citadel Racing Team were involved in this ground up project by testing countless iterations of the new FR in the pursuit of creating the ultimate Felt Racing Development (FRD) frame. “We wanted function to define and guide form in order to create the ultimate instrument of speed,” Felt‘s Global Brand Manager Hubert Otlik explained.
The Tour of California in May is where the first two new FR’s made a quiet entrance. Robin rode the final iteration of the bike in his dress clothes in the parking lot of the San Diego hotel and made the decision to ride it the next day for stage one. During stage seven in Santa Rosa, one of the most difficult ascending and descending days professional riders have ever seen at the TOC (blind corners, diminishing radius turns), Robin rode the FR and said he never felt more comfortable during such high-stress racing. He ended up placing a respectable 12th on the final stage.
Felt focused heavily on using the right material for the right applications, and in the case of the FR that meant using various types of carbon from the Swedish manufacturing company, TeXtreme. Felt used three of the five different density fibers that TeXtreme makes in the FR. Many of the carbon fiber technologies patented by the Swedish company are used in car racing because it adds incredible strength (using a ribbon weave like design) while decreasing weight. Each level of the three different modulus carbon fibers is used for a specific purpose – Felt’s Ultra Hybrid Carbon (UHC) blends are created specifically for varying performance adjectives in different parts of the frame.
“The F was always a nervous, pro-level bike only.” – Jim Felt
Combining the TeXtreme technology while continuing with a manufacturing process that uses size specific lay-ups helps to ensure consistent ride quality, performance and handling across all sizes. Felt wanted to create the FR bike with high performance in mind, yet without overlooking the comfort factor. No matter how big or small the rider is the bike should display the same characteristics on the road. Diameters of the tubing size differ significantly and intersections are smaller and more compact in the small frames. In the larger frames, the junctions are beefier to increase strength at the critical stress points.
The new FR has a stack increase of 19mm on average across the frame sizes – divided between head tube and fork – in order to keep the front triangle tight. An added benefit is that it helps to broaden the overall fit envelope of the bike.
Outboard mounted seat stays are also new for the FR, joining the top tube to the outside of the seat stays and around the seat tube. This increases torsional stiffness by 30% according to Felt, while also decreasing wag of the rear end ultimately leading to quicker accelerations. The bridgeless design allows the seat stays to flex vertically with less twisting, allowing the bike to stay in contact with the road more consistently, increasing efficiency. Overall, this improves the ride quality and responsiveness of the FR frame.
The bottom bracket and chain stay junction is the next area that received an re-design. Pulling from the carbon ‘cross bikes like the F1x, the FR uses a BB386 – the 86mm wide shell brings more balance to the rear triangle and increases stiffness. Felt overbuilt the non-drive side chain stay and thinned out the drive-side stay to again help keep the rear tire in contact with the road. Tire clearance is claimed to max out at 28mm.
Another cool feature worth mentioning are the reflective elements painted into the graphics. When lit up with a car’s beams, the bike becomes incandescent for better safety when riding in low-light conditions. Reflective handlebar tape is also used in the builds to complete the safety upgrade.
Following with the new standard of increased stopping power and greater modulation during all weather conditions the FR will be available in disc (flat mount with front/rear thru axles) format in the FR1, FR2 and FR3 builds. Colors schemes across the eleven (men) and six (women – FRW) options are clean, bold and simple. The FR1 will be available in September, but the FR1 Disc with SRAM eTap won’t be available until December 2016.
FR1 Disc $9,500
FR2 Disc $5,500
FR 3 Disc $3,500
FR30 (alloy) $1,500
FR40 (alloy) $1,200
FR60 (alloy) $800
FR FRD Frameset $3,500
FR1 Frame $2,000
Women’s specific models will be available as well, but with different touch points (saddle, handlebar and stem) featuring the same construction methods with size specific layups and rakes.
FRW2 Disc $5,500
FRW30 (alloy) $1,500
FRW40 (alloy) $1,200
FRW60 (alloy) $800
FRW1 Frameset $2,000
Words: Jeffrey Stern
Look for the Holowesko-Citadel riders to be on the new FR at the Tour of Utah starting in Zion Canyon Village, Utah today.