Bike Test: FELT FR2

The perfect race bike is something that every aspiring racer is constantly in search for. Felt Bicycles was founded on the goal of providing high-performance bikes to help riders win. The F-series has been the go-to for serious riders the last six years, but the new FR is taking its place as the new kid on the block, hoping to deliver the way that its predecessor did.

THE FRAME
The previous F-series was built on the premise of delivering a fast and aggressive bike for serious riders who have specific goals and are looking for any advantage to achieve them. The new FR line is a completely new design, taking certain cues from the previous F model. Part of the goal with the FR was to broaden the fit options while still keeping the bike aggressive. Our 54cm test bike has a head tube angle of 73 degrees and a 73.5-degree seat tube angle that are similar to the previous F model, but both the top tube and downtube are shorter to create a more compact-fitting mainframe.

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The Felt FR2 is a completely new concept that carries on the solid reputation of the previous F-Series. The refined geometry and impressive build kit delivered a quality ride.

Felt has become known for their attention to detail and carbon layup process. The FR2 uses Felt’s UHC Advanced and TeXtreme carbon, along with their InsideOut construction that eliminates any excess fibers and voids in the layup to help reduce the weight and maximize strength. Our test bike has full internal cable routing for the Di2 system, but the models with mechanical drivetrains use external routing for the cables along the bottom of the downtube. The frame was built with carbon fiber rear dropouts and a BB386 bottom bracket shell.

The most noticeable change to the FR is the rear chainstay-mounted brake. Felt claims that the overbuilt bottom bracket area is strong enough to absorb the braking forces opposed to the seatstays. This design allowed Felt to manipulate the seatstays to increase the vertical compliance and provide a smoother ride.

THE PARTS
There are several different built kits in the FR line, ranging from mechanical drivetrains to a couple of disc-equipped versions. The FR2 sits in the middle with an Ultegra Di2 drivetrain and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. An added bonus to our test bike was the single-leg Pioneer power meter that comes stock. Felt uses a 3T cockpit and seatpost and Prologo saddle to tie it all in. A subtle feature that our test riders appreciated about the build was the Di2 Sprint shifters that come stock on the FR2.

THE RIDE
Dialing in the fit didn’t pose any massive issues; our test riders were able to find a comfortable position with the 100mm stem. The cable routing for the rear brake gave us some concern, as the caliper had a tendency to close if we turned the handlebars more than a few degrees. We dropped the stack height as low as it would go, and didn’t feel too over extended once reaching to the tops of the hoods.

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The FR2 comes stock with a one-sided Pioneer power meter. At this price point we were surprised to see this coming as original equipment.

Our initial impressions assured us that the FR2 was a very smooth-riding bike, muting the rough sections of road and providing a compliant ride. Out of the saddle the frame felt stiff and responsive, giving us no unwanted flex out of the rear triangle or bottom bracket area. On long climbs the FR2 rolled efficiently and allowed our test riders to get into an aggressive position.

During our testing we struggled with the rear brake. At times it felt underwhelming in terms of stopping power and struggled to slow us down effectively, especially during a couple of late-braking episodes. We didn’t attribute this to the caliper itself, but instead the location, which, while proved momentarily fashionable a few years ago for being aero, has since lost favor for the old-school seatstay mount. On high-speed descents, though, some of the test riders did appreciate the massive range of modulation, especially when cornering. Despite the lack of rear braking power, the FR2’s handling was stable on long descents and gave our test riders a certain level of confidence when cornering.

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Felt designed the FR2 with rear brake tucked right behind the bottom bracket shell. This allowed for more vertical compliance but did affect the braking performance of the bike.

THE VERDICT
The value-added nature of the components on the FR2 was difficult to overlook, with the high-end carbon frame, Di2 spec with sprint shifters and the Pioneer power meter. Although some riders might benefit from a set of aero wheels to get a little extra something out of their bike, there is little left to the imagination with the FR2. The geometry is versatile enough that potential riders will find a healthy range of fit options to make the FR2 just about anything they want.

PUNCH LINES
• Good price for the frame and build

• Comfy and versatile geometry

• Rear-brake performance is marginal

STATS

Price: $5000

Weight: 15.6 pounds

Sizes: 47, 51, 54 (tested), 56, 58, 61cm

THE GEAR

  • Helmet: Scott Cadence Plus
  • Jersey: Pactimo Summit Aero
  • Bibs: Pactimo Ascent Vector
  • Shoes: Specialized S-Works
  • Glasses: Oakley Jawbreaker

www.feltbicycles.com

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