Over the past six months, I’ve been in charge of testing 56 bicycles, with the goal of picking the best bikes on the market for 2011. I’ve plowed road bikes to 10,000 feet in swirling New Mexico snowstorms, spun down back roads and dusty singletrack in Tucson with dozens of enthusiastic bike testers, and steered bikes—much to my back's displeasure—over the Flemish cobbles. And I’ve ridden some damn good bikes. Sadly, my legs (and my garage) have more capacity than a magazine, and we couldn’t find space for a handful of notable bicycles. So over the next days and weeks, I’ll be reviewing a few more of this season’s noteworthy bikes.
THE SELL: Sprint-worthy stiffness with an impressive pedigree.
THE TEST: Having sponsored Garmin-Chipotle in previous years, Felt amassed feedback from the team to redesign the popular F-Series line, with straighter tubing for increased rigidity and an even lighter build. We liked the F4 because it’s laid up in the same molds as the top-end models, though the slightly lower grade carbon weave means the price won’t make you see argyle. What you get is the stiffest bike we tested, which some praised for “incredible power transfer,” while others rued as “bracing” and “too stiff for a full day in the saddle.” The rigid, workhorse Ksyrium Elite wheels and silky Ultegra shifting will keep you in the mix in the bunch gallops, though if you’re not a sprinter we’d suggest switching to carbon bars, stem, and seatpost to take off the harsh edge.
THE VERDICT: Don’t ask if this mid-level racer is tough enough for a criterium series; ask whether you’re tough enough for this bike. 16.7lbs (56); feltbicycles.com