The Bikes /// 04.

Felt F1

People always ask me what my favourite bike was while a pro. It doesn’t take much deliberation; it was my FELT while at Slipstream, especially the 2010 versions. There are three reasons for this...

1. I had arguably my best ever season in 2010 while on FELT.

2. Jim Felt (creator of the FELT brand) liked racing bikes and built his bikes for racers. 

3. They were relative newcomers on the road scene and were maverick in their attitude towards the sport e.g. they also made low-rider beach cruisers, they would bring fleets of these to the Giro and TdF starts for us to ride to sign in, this was not normal road bike brand behaviour.

Jim was no longer a majority owner of FELT at the time, but he'd turn up occasionally and be genuinely fascinated in our opinions, which was extremely rare for the big kahuna of a bike brand.  Jim no longer has anything to do with his eponymous bike brand - read more about that here - but while he was involved he was hands on.  Now don’t get me wrong, they were out-sourced frames, using standard manufacturing processes, but the difference was that they were designed for racing at a time when many bike manufacturers were more focussed on the end-customer than the bike racer.  The majority of top end road bikes in 2010 were built for comfort rather than speed.  Felt didn’t give in to that trend, and although they were a bit heavy and not exactly cutting edge, they felt right for racing.  

Beyond FELT of 2010 the majority of bikes I raced were similar, mostly disappointing, and as my career went on they got worse. The bike racer was the lowest priority for the brand, the first time buyers who liked their bikes to have high handlebars and lazy geometry were more important.  As a racer I wanted the opposite: slammed and responsive.  Jim built his top end racing bikes to do what we the racers wanted the bike to do, he listened to us, he valued what we had to  say.  This was highly unusual at the time.

The Swiss Army Knife Bike

My FELT F1 road bike from 2010 lives on the wall of my home study, that’s how much I love it.

 It hasn’t been ridden since 2010, it’s exactly how it was after it’s last race (the Commonwealth Games Road Race in Delhi where I finished third), the saddle even has a Mark Cavendish signature.

I had left the bike outside the catering hall in the athlete’s village and came out to find Mark’s graffiti on it, Tyler Farrar was my team mate at the time, and Mark loved pushing my buttons about the fact I would lead him out.  The bike itself is first generation electronic shifting, I had the extra handlebar button shifters on it because that seemed novel at the time. 

I was also deep into my O-Symmetric ring phase, I can’t imagine riding those now but loved them back then. It was a Swiss Army knife of a bike, I used it in cobbled classics in the spring and the high mountains in summer, it felt at home everywhere.

The Owners Story

Unfortunately I don’t have my FELT DA TT bike - check it out in detail here - I think I loved that bike more than the F1 road bike. 

I specced it out massively, bars, grips, bearings, tyres, pulley wheels, cable-housing, you name it, I modded it. I’d search out and buy all the best bits I could find, and my mechanic, Iñaki, took immense pride in putting many extra hours into building and rebuilding it. 

Towards the end of 2010 it was in its ultimate guise, I finished second in the Worlds in Geelong on it, then won the Commonwealth Games TT, before going to the Chrono des Herbiers and winning with the new course record. 

That was my last race of 2010, and I knew we’d be switching to Cervelo the next year, so I went back to the Garmin Service Course in Girona a few weeks later to pick it up and bring it home. Not something I had ever done before, but I wanted to keep that TT bike for myself... 

I arrived at the the Service Course, it was in that post-season quiet state, only Geoff the Head Mechanic was there. I wandered around looking for the bike, I couldn't see it anywhere, I figured it was somewhere safe. I asked Geoff, and he pointed to some boxes in the corner, my heart sank. Sure enough it was completely stripped, the frame and forks in one box, everything else in a couple more boxes.  I asked Geoff, “Why is it in pieces?”  To which he replied, “Felt want the frame and fork back, it’s a prototype apparently.” 

I couldn’t believe it, I bloody loved that bike, I left and took the F1 instead.