The year 2013 is an important year for Felt Bicycles.
With the introduction of several brand-new and
redesigned models, the Southern California-based
company is making yet another big push. Back in 2009, Felt
Bicycles was one of the first companies to introduce a carbon
fiber 29er. This year, they are again pushing the boundaries
in the high-end, cross-country 29er segment with the all-new
Edict Nine LTD. Felt says their goal for the bike is very
straightforward: build the fastest cross-country bike possible.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The Edict Nine LTD is for the cross-country racer who is
looking for a race weapon without compromise. From the
parts spec to the frame materials, Felt means business with
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The Edict’s frame is constructed of Felt’s proprietary UHC
Ultimate Plus Nano carbon fiber using their inside-out molding process. Felt claims this process creates a cleaner, more
uniform surface inside of the tube wall for a stronger and
lighter frame. It is hard to appreciate this without cutting the
frame in half. Sorry, but we’d rather ride it than dissect it.
The Edict has 3.9 inches of suspension travel handled by
their Felt Active Stay Technology (FAST) linkage system.
This design employs seat and chainstays that flex slightly,
like a carbon leaf spring, to help keep the suspension somewhat active under braking and eliminate pedal bob at the sag
point. The head tube is tapered from 1 1/8 to 1 1/2 inches
for additional stiffness.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
All of them. LTD stands for “limited,” and it is basically a
cross-country racer’s wish list. Felt’s Southern California
neighbor, Shimano, handles the drivetrain and brake spec
with their top-shelf XTR equipment. The cockpit is Felt branded and features a carbon handlebar and seatpost. The
carbon fiber doesn’t stop there. Reynolds’ new 29er carbon
wheelset helps shave the overall weight even more. Fox’s new
Float CTD fork and shock offer on-the-fly tuning options.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Moving out: One of the benefits of the trend from 26- to 29-inch-wheeled cross-country bikes is that the position on
the bike has become less borderline roadie. This makes these
new race steeds more versatile than ever. The Edict puts the rider slightly forward of center, but thanks to the taller front
end of the larger wheels, the position is comfortable enough
for an epic-length race.
Sprinting: Felt emphasizes efficiency at every turn. The
Edict simply gives you what you put into it. Out-of-the-saddle efforts are exceptionally rewarding, as the frame provides
plenty of lateral stiffness.
Climbing: The combination of a laterally stiff frame
and full-suspension platform allows the rider to put the power down on climbs. The rear wheel absorbs
square-edge hits and maintains traction on loose climbs without a second thought. Remaining
seated and plugging away on long climbs feel as if you are churning the pedals on a road bike.
The Shimano XTR 2x10 drivetrain feels like
it was built for this bike. We never longed for a missing gear. Even the lowest gear ratio of
26x36, a problem on some 29ers, felt easy to push because of the bike’s weight and lateral
While Fox’s CTD (Climb, Trail, Descend) system certainly delivers a stiffer pedaling platform in the
Climb mode, Felt’s suspension design is so efficient that we found ourselves using the feature less and less with every
ride. Even with the damper wide open in Descend mode,
there was only minimal pedal bob. We found ourselves limiting the choices between the Trail and Descend modes on
climbs, depending on how rough or loose the trail was.
Cornering: With full-suspension 29ers, there is a fine line
between big-wheel stability and the quick-handling characteristics that racers are accustomed to. The Edict walks the
line well, leaning slightly toward quick handling. The long
stem screams race bike and helps the front end knife around
Slide your weight back a bit and it will track through loose,
sweeping corners just fine, but the bike seems to be tuned to
offset the big wheels’ inherently larger turning radius.
The Kenda 24/7 tires left a bit to be desired on our dry,
dusty, hardpack trails. They roll like road tires and tend to
corner like them as well.
Braking: Shimano’s XTR brakes are the best option avail-
able for the job; however, their performance was somewhat
hindered by the low traction of the Kenda 24/7 tires and the
stiffening of the rear suspension under hard braking.
Descending: The FAST system, which is essentially a single-pivot design aided by the leaf-spring effect of the chainstays and seatstays, is aimed at race-worthy efficiency, and
thus gives up a bit when it comes to small-bump compliance.
Additionally, because of its single-pivot nature, the rear suspension stiffens up a bit under braking power and is
especially felt through stuttering braking bumps.
The Edict isn’t going to soak up big-hit descents, but it
did keep us confident and comfortable on moderately
rough descents of the kind we encounter in cross-country
races. It’s hard to ask a 24-pound race bike that climbs like
a billy goat to do much more than that.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
We opted to switch the bar out for a wider model, which
helped improve stability when descending and gave us more
leverage when cornering and climbing. Also, a slightly shorter
stem would tone the handling down a bit and get the rider’s
weight off the back of the bike for steep and fast descents.
The Kenda 24/7 tires are designed for minimal rolling
resistance, but we would gladly give up a few watts of
power for a better-gripping tire.
While you can certainly keep the CTD system in the
Trail mode and just ride, getting the most out of the bike
requires a good amount of knob turning. Our CTD usage
looked something like this: We used the Climb mode mainly for paved road sections to and from the trails, the Trail
mode for most undulating trails and climbs, and the
Descend mode for descents and rough sections of trail.
If you have the means, the Edict Nine LTD competes
with the best of them on the cross-country racecourse. The
$9300 price tag will certainly strike fear in the hearts of
many potential buyers, but Felt has always stressed their
trickle-down engineering. For 2013, they are offering the
Edict Nine platform in six different models, starting with
the aluminum Edict Nine 60 for $2070. For a carbon
frame, the entry price is $3630 with the Edict Nine 3.
While the components certainly won’t be the dream team
assembled on the LTD, the bike will still share many of the
same attributes we appreciate in the Edict Nine.