It’s difficult not to look at a bike manufacturer and find some kind of gravel-grinding, dirt-conquering, adventure-seeking, but road-looking model in the stable. More and more riders are interested in veering off the tarmac and onto a plethora of trails, fire roads and other options at their disposal. Of course, this terrain is likely to deliver more flats, a whole lot less traffic and definitely tons more fun. Introducing Felt’s answer to the craze, the VR.
VR stands for the Variable Road model – it is brand new for the 2017 line and is aimed directly at inspiring exploration and discovery as far away from the pavement as possible. The VR has increased compliance for bumpy roads, a more comfortable, slightly upright ride in the cockpit with slightly relaxed geometry. Compared to the FR the VR has a higher stack, reach, relaxed head and seat angles. ALL DAY comfort is the goal.
This frame, designed from the ground up, features an outboard seat stay design which helps to remove a large amount of carbon material found in builds with a more traditional post cluster. With a slightly shorter seat tube the rider is placed in a position ideal for climbing on more technical, often times significantly slower terrain. To that note, Felt is offering this bike built with a compact crankset to give you the inspiration to make it up some very steep pitches. Although, a bit of speed will be sacrificed on the descents due to the same gearing.
Vertical compliance and comfort are of utmost importance to Felt when they designed the new VR. Thin at the top, round in the middle and flaring out to create a plush ride. The flatter tube profile through the middle creates vertical motion in the seat stay to create flex while remaining rigid in the horizontal plane to maintain stiffness. Felt used numerous top and down tube profile iterations through the design and engineering phase to lead to a claimed 23% increase in head tube stiffness as well.
Compared to the Z road model that is geared more to the gran fondo rider, tire clearance is rated at 30c versus 25c. Based on visual inspection at the launch last week, the VR might actually be able to accommodate a 33c tire – but we’ll have to wait to get a test bike at the Peloton Service Course to confirm. Felt decided to make the entire VR lineup (eight men’s models and five women’s models) hydraulic disc, with only the alloy VR40 and VR60 builds utilizing mechanical actuated braking systems.
All new sub-compact gearing offers climbing biased ratio options to overcome variable terrain and gradients – 1:1. The ethos behind offering a lower gear ratio gives the rider more options for steeper, longer pitches that might normally scare away riders with a standard or even mid-compact crank set-up. Our test bike was set up with a 50-34 crankset and 11-32 cassette that made riding loose, dirt fire roads pitching over ten percent too easy.
Cable management is routed all internally with fully sealed cable ports, compatible with all mechanical and electronic drivetrains. The front brake hose is nicely routed internally through the fork as well.
A couple additional features not normally associated with new road offerings, but geared more to the adventure arms included the optional fender kit which helps supplement the VR’s all terrain and weather versatility and a top tube bag (or bento box) for more fuel during rides far away from civilization. Larger sized frames (58/61cm) allow for a third water bottle mount which makes adding additional hydration for those long rides easy.
Just like the FR launched this week, women’s specific models will be available, but only the touch points (saddle, handlebar and stem) and color schemes will change. The VRW series will feature the same construction methods with size specific layups and rakes as the VR series.
Overall, the VR endurance road bike incorporates many features that increase the versatility in off-road conditions, without loosing too much performance on the road. From the disc brakes, to the front/rear thru-axles, clearance for cyclocross width tires and mounts for fenders and extra hydration the VR has you covered wherever your riding may take you this fall – in comfort and long doses – as the sun starts to dip earlier on the horizon creeping towards 2017.