Garda BIKE Festival’12 – part 5: FELT Edict Nine-by c_g

Life as a bike tester is usually great – you get to ride cool bikes and parts, meet new people and do what is fun anyway … biking. But sometimes, when for days all circles around bike issues, it also happens that I just get enough if it. And so it was near the end of the BIKE festival and I still needed to take the new FELT Edict Nine for a ride (tough life, I know ;)).

The 2013er FELT Edict Nine was already revealed at Sea Otter, but since Grannygear had not had the opportunity to cover it, it was up to me. Undoubtedly, the bike is a real looker – the flowing lines and sporty graphics are simply beautiful. Then there are the top end components of the test bike (complete with XX group, SID XX fork and a set of brand new MAVIC SLR 29″er wheels ?), but somehow I just didn’t feel like test riding another bike – well, I’m only human after all ;).

Therefore, the pre-ride talk was cut rather short, and after some adjusting, I was ready for the test ride – Mt. Brione was the destination.

One thing immediately sticking out is the FAST suspension system (“Felt Stay Active Technology”), in which the rear pivot point is eliminated and handled by the flex of the carbon rear triangle. The whole suspension system is designed in a way that the unsagged rear is slightly tensioned, and only becomes tension free in the range of the recommended sag. This way the rear can be built lighter, stiffer and as part of the suspension equation. The suspension itself is a rocker driven single pivot system with 100mm of rear travel.

It is interesting to see how FELT sticks to traditional values like a quick release rear, International Standard brake bosses, a BSA bottom bracket, and a clamped front derailleur. Doubtlessly State of the Art is the special carbon construction (FELT calls it “Inside Out”) where FELT utilizes a PU high pressure bladder on the inside of the mold to best utilize the material and achieve the highest strength and stiffness at the lowest possible weight, by squeezing out every unnecessary resin.

A real treat to the eyes are the asymmetrical chain stays that combine a good tire and chain ring clearance with great stiffness in an aesthetically pleasing way. Unlike many competitors nowadays only the rear derailleur cable runs internally on the Edict Nine, the brake line and the front derailleur cable all run externally on the down tube. Almost standard by now is the tapered head tube and 15mm through axle on the front.

But now to the actual RIDE IMPRESSIONS:
Already on the first few meters, I noticed how sporty yet comfortable and easy to handle the Edict Nine feels. The steep angles (71.5° head and 73° seat angle) together with the moderately long rear (450 mm chain stay length) result in a pleasing and harmonious all-around handling.

Despite the XC-like position with low front, I felt very good on the bike. Not surprisingly, that the Edict was a great performer when it came to going fast. After the first 100 meters in altitude gain, I knew that the bike is really stiff and precise. It is perhaps not quite such an extreme race machine as the BIANCHI Methanol 29″er (here), but it definitely is a fast bike. The race with my E-Bike armed Co-tester showed how much fun all out riding this bike is The rear end felt consistent and pleasant when climbing even with the rear shock´s platform damping on open. With the platform damping engaged it felt like a pure breed XC racer, and with the shock locked it ran like a hard tail – Exactly as it should be for this bike.

Up to this point the FELT Edict Nine positively surprised me as a pleasantly riding, strong and stiff XC-/endurance race bike, but even that could change my reluctant mindset only partly. On top of all that the mounted ROCK SHOX RT3 (a early ’13 prototype!) failed briefly before we reached the summit leaving me with only 50 mm of completely undamped rear travel … and thus robbed me of my hopes of a fun downhill. Because of this defect, I can say very little about the rear suspension performance, but a lot about the bike´s handling.

Those readers that know the downhill of Mt. Brione, know that it has a lot to offer, from flowing, gently winding passages, to real steep steps and rock strewn sections. Actually, I was expecting some sections where the Edict with its XC-ish handling would probably be overwhelmed, but none of that. Already halfway down (and with a 130mm 29″er full suspension bike breathing down my neck) it dawned to me that the EDICT NINE was more than just a great XC rocket. On the second half of the downhill I deliberately took the heavier lines and rode more aggressively still, yet never came to a point of anxiety or overwhelming. The rear suspension was indeed harsh and completely out of control, but the bike itself has been as good-natured and confident as I very rarely see in such a fast XC bike.

A big compliment to FELT for this brilliant and versatile 29″er geometry! Back at the Felt booth my mental low had completely vanished thanks to the excitement about the FELT Edict Nine.

A few words about the different FELT Edict Nine models: The top-end version with “UHC Ultimate + Nano” Carbon frame (as ridden), will likely come as a frameset (with damper, as with the FELT Edict Six). The slightly heavier “UHC Performance” carbon frames and the triple-butted 7005 alloy frames should come as complete bikes. The aluminum frames get an additional pivot as the alloy rear wouldn’t take the flex without.

The exact specifications and versions are not yet set and may also vary depending on the market. Same for prices and expected availability – we will communicate when we learn more.


Ps: The first impression of the Crossmaxx Mavic SLR 29″er wheels have also been very positive – fast, light and precise as far as the short test round can tell.