I’ve been mountain biking for the last 3 or so years and absolutely love it, but find that 35 ish miles is as far as I’m really comfortable riding and I want to go further. So, with that thought in mind, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a road bike (or a Cyclocross bike) for the last year or so. Well, I ended up investing in a new Felt F95 road bike (sadly I missed out on a sweet deal for a Cube Peloton) and the bike was delivered to me today. So, after spending a little time fitting the handlebars and pedals, it was time to try it out and then adjust the saddle height, position, handlebars, etc.
Before I could do that I needed to give it a quick whirl to see what needed adjusting. So, on I hopped and went for a spin up the road to get a feel for the required adjustments. Sweet Jesus, what the hell am I riding!!! After so many years riding a mountain bike, this road bike felt like a totally alien contraption! The brakes were in a weird place, the gear changers are all wrong and the handlebars! What the hell are these….? They are too short, a stupid shape and the brakes are just out of reach… I hate it, I feel wobbly, unsafe and just plain wrong!
Time to make some adjustments and try again. Nope, still feels wrong (slightly less so, but still wrong). How do people ride these things? The slightest movement and its amplified, and not in a good way. Suspension! I never really thought it did too much on an MTB, but after 2 minutes on the Felt road bike, I soon realised that they do a whole lot.
Okay, time for some more adjustments while waiting for a friend to join me on my maiden voyage on this death trap. So, off we set with a sense of real trepidation at the forefront of my mind. The first few miles were a real learning curve on how this insanely twitchy bike handles, and I’m still not 100% sure I like the feeling.
Time to get stuck in, head down and see how I get on with a road bike and to tell if it will be up on eBay after one day (that would be a bloody record for me!) So, off we head on a 20 mile circular route up towards the lakes past Blaenavon, back to Pontypool and finally back to our starting point. This route takes in a mix of hills, flats, tarmac, roads, cycle paths and more; so it provides a good test for a bike. Once we got onto the main path up to the Lakes the straight run gave me a chance to get a feel for the bike. The first thing I noticed is just how stiff the frame is and how lumps and bumps are transferred through the frame to me and how much less stable I feel over my Cube 29Er Mountain Bike. That makes you feel like you are fully in control, whereas the Felt feels like it is waiting for the opportunity to fling you off!
The second thing I noticed was how much less effort was needed on the Felt to get up the 8 miles of incline to the highest point of the ride. Hills felt easily attainable, whereas the Cube makes you work harder. That was definitely a pleasant surprise and one of the key reasons why I wanted to try adding a road bike to my cycling options. The Felt certainly feels like it could tame many a hill without punishing you for attempting to tackle it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it isn’t going to make hills like The Tumble (The Keepers) any easier, but it certainly helps to take the trepidation out of longer rides that encompass some hilly sections. As a matter of fact, towards the end of the ride I found I was relishing the hills to see how much easier they were to tackle over the Cube.
To sum up, the Felt is a very stiff, agile and direct frame that will take a little getting used to; but after my initial dislike of riding it, I found I was quickly getting a real sense of satisfaction from it. I’ll be out again tomorrow and may well take it for another ride on the same route to help get used to the handling characteristics it has.
Will it replace my Cube 29er as my go to ride? I don’t think so, but it will be a pleasure to get out on some longer and more diverse routes and enjoy some ore of the stunning scenery this country offers us.
Expect a review on the bike soon, once I’ve had the chance to put a good few miles on the tyres.