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Friend Indeed.
By Tom Demerly.
Read this first about our reviews

Felt's new 2010 F75 continues the value and perfromance forward at a new, lower price.

In a soft economy value prevails. Bang for Buck. Durability. Versatility. If you spend a dollar it needs to do three dollars’ work. As the bike industry reacts to Wall Street the average selling price of a new bike has followed most people’s faith in the Dow and the NASDAQ. More people than ever are shopping below the range of $2500 and placing an emphasis on value, performance, durability and jack-of-all trades versatility.

Value bikes are not created overnight though. It takes years of building relationships between a bike brand and component vendors to evolve the right specifications into the right price category. These are the relationships that create ultimate value. The best components and best frame design converge at the lowest price only after years of relationship building by a product manager. When it all “clicks” the result is a category killer. The result is Felt’s 2010 F75.

The F75 is a legacy bike. The model name has been carried forward and each year their have been refinements- sometimes subtle, sometimes sweeping. The key ingredient to the F75’s success is an industry leading combination of low price (even lower in 2010 with no downgrades), good component spec and excellent frame quality. The F75 includes a long list of subtle upgrades that most people forget to shop for in a first time high end bike- like the carbon steer tube fork that saves weight and improves ride quality compared to other bikes in this price range.

New Mondrian-esque paint livery for 2010.

Older monotone solid color paint scheme from 2009.

There is also a bonus that makes the Felt F75 appeal to road riders and entry level triathletes alike: The frame angles of the F75 are better suited for bolt-on elbow rest style aerobars than any other bike in this category. The bike does double duty as a road bike and an entry level tri bike. No one bike does everything perfectly, but the F75 is an excellent pure road bike that morphs into a part time tri bike with better fit and position than anything in its category. The versatility built into the F75 add value to design: It is one bike for many things.

“The versatility designed into the F75 adds value: It is one bike for many things: sport riding, club rides, fast touring, charity rides and entry level triathlons.”

The F75’s two differentiating features are a “pure” Shimano component kit and its versatile frame geometry.

From 2008 to 2009 the Felt F75 incorporated re-designed rear wheel dropouts used on Felt’s Tour de France team frames. The better dropouts make rear wheel changes easier and insure better wheel alignment in the frame. The new dropouts carry into 2010 but at the slightly lower price.

You can't see it but it's there: A full carbon fiber steer tube fork inside the headtube for weight savings.

There was a tangible fork upgrade to an all carbon fiber fork steer tube, crown and blades from ’08 to ‘09. The new fork is carried forward to 2010 and reduces bike weight and improves ride quality. This is another area where the F75 offers an upgrade that most buyers won’t see but will feel in weight and ride quality. Few other bikes in this price category use a full carbon fiber fork- most have a heavier alloy steer tube and even an aluminum fork crown. The 2010 F75 fork is entirely carbon fiber except for the wheel dropouts. These frame details are examples of the reduced legacy cost of the F75- and the added value.

The 2010 Felt F75 continues with size specific head tubes from 2009 tuned for ride quality and handling. The carbon fiber wishbone seatstay assembly is the same upgraded, lighter, more compliant rear end design using butting thickness ratios from Felt’s team issue handmade Scandium road frames. Economy of scale by using these features from 2009 helps hold the F75 price down. There is a different rear end for each frame size- each one tuned to rider weight and size.

Sometimes the best change you can make is no change at all. That is the case with the versatile cockpit on the 2010 Felt F75. The top section of the bar maintains a constant 31.8 mm diameter from stem to handlebar tape enabling you to easily bolt on aerobars for triathlon use. Many other bikes use a tapered clamp section bar that you can’t bolt aerobars to. Additionally, seat tube angles on the smaller frame size F75’s are steep enough to work well with aerobars, enabling the rider to maintain an open torso to femur bone angle while using aerobars. The fact that the F75 can do double duty as a tri bike makes it the go-to choice for the rider on the fence between road bike and tri bike. Felt does add a nice looking color-matched stem to the later version 2010’s.

Constant taper 31.8 mm diameter handlebar for easy mounting of bolt-on aerobars.

As with the 2009 Felt F75, the 2010 version uses a head tube that 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 built into the larger frame sizes provide better ride stiffness and durability on bikes with longer frame tubes.

Vittoria Zaffiro Pro tire with Kevlar flat resistant belt in 700 X 23c. Note the machined brake track on the Mavic rims.

While a lot of technology from 2009 was carried over to 2010 the bike lost significant weight from 2008 to 2009. The 2010 version continues with the newer, lighter frameset. The weight loss came from the change to a full carbon fiber fork with carbon steer tube and crown that weighs a scant 400 grams. The relieved head tube reduced more weight between ’08 and ’09 and carries forward for 2010. 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 was 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. Felt carried this through to 2010 and at reduced cost.

Another area Felt saved weight and improved overall spec and performance is with a respectable wheelset. The new 2010 Felt F75 uses a custom wheelset configured by Felt specifically for the F75. No stock wheelset from pre-built wheel vendors can match this wheelset- it is unique to the F75: Mavic CXP22S rims built with DT Swiss Spokes on forged aluminum alloy hubs with sealed bearings in the rear. The wheels are differentially laced, 28 hole radial in the front and 32 cross three in the rear for better front wheel aerodynamics and greater rear wheel strength.

Felt retains the Vittoria Zaffiro tire on the F75, a durable tire with a flat resistant Kevlar belt. This is the up-spec version of the Zaffiro- the lighter folding one, not the heavier wire-bead version. This is another minor weight saving detail that differentiates the new F75 from other bikes in the category. Casual shoppers won’t notice these details but meticulous buyers who do their research will find these gems on the spec sheet that combine to put the F75 in a class of its own at this new, lower price.

The combined weight reduction program for the Felt F75 lightened the bike to 18 pounds, an impressive figure for a carbon fiber/aluminum combination frame with a Shimano 105 component spec and custom wheels.

Details of the internal cable routing and the new graphics story.

An overall racier look that plays well to both genders.

Prior to the current 2010 model, Felt did cut a corner on the 2009 F75 with a very simple, single color paint livery. It was frankly rather boring to look at. The new colors are lighter, racier and have broader appeal. The color scheme plays well for both genders. The new graphics also make the bike look more expensive. Even the new saddle is color-matched to the overall paint scheme.

The F75 has always been a professional looking bike with 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. Most of this comes from good weight distribution on the F75 with a mounted rider- the low head tube helps with this. So called “comfort” or high head tube equipped 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 even with aerobars bolted on. The lower head tube further facilitates the addition of aerobars adding to the double-duty versatility of the bike.

The 2010 F75 is nearly a “pure” Shimano spec bike except for brake calipers. For 2010 the F75 stops on a pair of F1 inspired white calipers with special formula red pads. The look is very cool. These are up-speced Tektro calipers with metal barrel adjusters, stainless steel hardware, Teflon pivot bushings and Felt custom specified Koolstop brand brake pads. Koolstop brake pads are an aftermarket upgrade item that sells for $19.99 a pair. Koolstop also makes the carbon fiber specific brake pads for Zipp wheels. They come stock on the Felt F75. We learned 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. The new, colorful brakes for the 2010 F75 are a nice accent/upgrade from 2009.

Our pre-production 2010 F75 had the older silver Shimano crank. Newer production 2010 F75's will use the black Shimano crank and machined chainrings.

Another significant component upgrade that remains on the F75 is the crank. The Shimano R600 compact crank provides the best front shifting you will experience south of Shimano’s highest end Dura-Ace components on $5000 bikes. The stiff chainrings and crank spider along with dependable front derailleur move the chain reliably from the small ring up to the big- the most difficult shift for any bike. New riders will value this since front shifting is generally where they have problems. Because of the Shimano crank on the F75 you will always have dependable front shifting. The new crank is black but early version of the 2010 F75 were delivered with the silver crank. The change to black was a running change.

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. It’s common to see Shimano 105 on higher end carbon frame bikes around $3000. This is a “better-than-entry-level” 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.

A full Shimano 105 transmission delivers the industry standard in shift reliablity at any price category.

Consistent weld quality is attractive and functional resulting in a handsome, durable frameset.

The 2010 F75 frame remains custom butted 7075 aluminum with the lighter 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- as it was for 2009. The carbon fiber wishbone seat stay adds some weight to the F75 but increases shock absorption so much it is worth carrying a few extra grams. You simply don’t feel road shock 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 the carbon.

What we wrote about the F75 for 2009 still applies to the 2010 version: “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.”

The monostay wishbone is entirely carbon fiber for better shock damping and ride quality.

Additionally, the following excerpt from the 2009 review still applies to the 2010 model:

“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 [and 2010] 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.”

These things being true the 2010 got a few nice, albeit minor, upspecs, better graphics and paint and a new lower price.

As for ride quality, the F75 has always been a solid choice for the dual-use, entry point rider. 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 also 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 shop above $2000. Judging by their comfort oriented, high front end designs below $2000 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 “comfort road” bike the higher 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 watered down “comfort road” bike.

The F75 is a bike we’ve bought for years and the 2010 version is a welcomed and exciting update. It continues the bike’s status as a category killer. 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. It’s a high performance bike at an entry level price. After years of evolution the F75 goes into 2010 as a leader in the performance class of entry price high end bikes.

A. Constant Taper 31.8 mm diameter handlebar compatible with bolt on aerobars.
B. Shimano 105 STi Dual Control shift/brake lever.
(internal) Full carbon fiber steer tube fork with carbon blades and alloy dropouts.
Vittoria Zaffiro Kevlar belted folding tire, 700 X 23c.
Mavic CXP22S double wall reinforced rim with eyelets. 28 spoke front, 32 rear. Radial lacing in front for improved aerodynamics.
Shimano compact crank with 50/34 chainrings: Black color on newer 2010's.
Externally butted frame seat tube.
Full carbon fiber seat post in 27.2 mm diameter.
New color-keyed brake calipers (different from those shown in this photo).
Shimano 105 front and rear derailleurs.
One piece molded carbon fiber wishbone seat stay for shock absorption.
Selle-Italia Flite style/inspired saddle by Felt.


© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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