Felt Edict 3

THE FELT EDICT 3

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: NICK WAYGOOD TESTER: SEBASTIAN JAYNE

Speed could re­place Felt’s name­sake and still pay ho­mage to their her­itage and will prob­a­bly be just as fit­ting. Jim Felt started off by tin­ker­ing with some of the world’s fastest mo­tor­cy­cles from brands such as Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki. It seems fit­ting that his first foray into push bikes came through the de­vel­op­ment of a speed hun­gry triathlon bike. Fast for­ward a few years and keep the name and de­sire for speed and you have Felt’s line-up of to­day. Rang­ing from World Cham­pi­onship win­ning cy­clocross bikes to road bikes and to­day’s test bike, the Edict. The pedi­gree of the Edict is hard to ques­tion hav­ing gained a bronze medal at the Cairns World Cross Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in 2017 with Thomas Litscher. To tame that tech­ni­cal beast, the rider would need a bike that was as fast as it was ro­bust and ca­pa­ble. Thomas was rid­ing the com­pany’s top model Edicts with 100mm of sus­pen­sion, but to­day’s test model has 120mm up­front to match the 100mm rear, plus 2-bolt ISCG mounts and in­ter­nal drop­per com­pat­i­bil­ity which all hints that this one may be even more ca­pa­ble than the one pi­loted by Thomas.

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SIONS

The model on test is the Felt Edict 3, which sits third in line out of four mod­els. The top of the range is the Edict FRD, which fea­tures Felt’s UHC Ul­ti­mate + TeXtreme Car­bon frame while the Edict 1 and be­low fea­tures the more cost ef­fec­tive UHC Ad­vanced Car­bon frame. The Edicts are Felt’s cross coun­try spe­cific mod­els, though the Edict 3 has been built for those want­ing a bit more ca­pa­bil­ity while de­scend­ing com­pared to a well-rounded XC rig that can climb just as well as it can de­scend. Felt claim a frame weight of 1925g with shock for the FRD, but 2125g for the frame on the model tested here. The ‘3’ sees a bump up to 120mm of front sus­pen­sion over the 100mm of the first two mod­els as well as a glossy red paint job. The forks are re­ally the stand­out dif­fer­ence as the rest of the com­po­nents are in a sim­i­lar vein to the first two mod­els though are a step or two down from the top of the range parts on the FRD. The driv­e­train comes from SRAM with their GX Ea­gle 1x12 group set with a 34t front chain ring. An ISCG OneUp chain guide gives an ex­tra bit of se­cu­rity up front to keep the chain on in those high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions, which is good to see. The wheels fea­ture boost spac­ing both front and rear and are wrapped in Maxxis Ar­dent tyres in 2.25”. This is a very ag­gres­sive tyre for an XC bike and points to the Edict 3’s de­scend­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The cen­tre­lock brake ro­tors are stopped by Shi­mano MT-500 brakes with a big 180mm ro­tor on the front and 160mm ro­tors on the rear. Most of the re­main­ing fin­ish­ing parts are also en­try level parts and are all draped over the Edict’s car­bon frame. The smaller de­tails are most likely glossed over at first glance as the gi­gan­tic bot­tom bracket area re­ally draws the eyes. The solid chunk of car­bon stretches from the bot­tom of the rear shock to the exit ports of the in­ter­nally routed ca­bles un­der­neath. It is quite im­pres­sive and re­ally hints at, or rather screams, stiff­ness! Com­ing off the chunky BB is the one-piece rear triangle that utilises Felt’s FAST (Felt Ac­tive Stay Technology).

The sys­tem for­goes a rear pivot and in­stead uses leaf-spring seat stays to sup­ply the rear flex and is said to in­crease ped­alling ef­fi­ciency and main­tain trac­tion and con­trol while still be­ing very light. Another in­ter­est­ing de­tail of the FAST sys­tem is that the rear shock is ‘moulded in sag’ which means it’s nat­u­ral po­si­tion is only achieved once the rider is ac­tu­ally on the bike. This is again de­signed to max­imise ped­alling ef­fi­ciency and trac­tion. The big­gest fea­ture of the Edict is found ‘un­der the hood’. Felt set out to cre­ate a bike with a mod­ern XC ge­om­e­try. Mean­ing slacker head an­gles, longer reach and short chain stays for quick han­dling. This is true for the top two mod­els, though things are slightly dif­fer­ent for the ‘3’ as the 120mm fork slack­ens the head an­gle from 70 degrees to 69 degrees. Another change is that the reach is re­duced from 429mm on the top two mod­els to 419mm on the Edict 3, along with a few other dif­fer­ences.

ON THE TRAIL

A tra­di­tional XC bike like the top of the range Edict or any num­ber of other XC spe­cific bikes tend to be good across the board. They climb well, de­scend well and are com­fort­able enough for long rides. Some are tweaked to be a lit­tle bet­ter at ei­ther climb­ing or de­scend­ing but they generally all throw out ball­park ge­om­e­try fig­ures. The more ‘ca­pa­ble’ XC ge­om­e­try of the Edict 3 caused by the 120mm forks re­ally pushes the model into the ‘de­scend­ing well’ end of the ball­park.

It is still an XC bike though, so my test route which I did a few times takes in a wide range of typ­i­cal XC ter­rain. It starts with flow­ing river trails that are mostly flat and fast, then moves to lower climb­ing trails with gen­tle gra­di­ents but still some tricky sec­tions both up and down. Then it moves to the full-on steep climbs and steep des­cents, which all add up to pro­vide a good bal­ance. The flow­ing but flat­ter river trails pro­vided a good test to see how com­fort­able the Edict would be for longer rides. The short reach and slack head an­gle puts your hands and up­per body in a very re­laxed po­si­tion, which is a stark con­trast to the usual su­per ag­gres­sive po­si­tion­ing of most XC bikes. Even on these gen­tle gra­di­ents of the rolling river trails you could feel the stiff­ness pro­vided by the mas­sive bot­tom bracket area. The FAST ped­alling plat­form also showed it­self to be a com­fort­able and efficient sys­tem with only the small­est amount of pedal bob no­tice­able when the Rock­Shox Deluxe shock was in open mode. Next up was the gen­tle climb­ing and de­scend­ing trails with a good mix of slow and fast cor­ners. The weight of the lower spec com­po­nents did start to show them­selves as the gra­di­ent in­creased, though the stiff­ness pro­vided by the large bot­tom bracket area did con­vert the power into for­ward mo­men­tum well. The FAST sus­pen­sion sys­tem no doubt added to this along with the Rock­Shox Deluxe rear shock. The shock has both ‘open’ and ‘pedal’ modes that are changed via a lever on the shock with the pedal mode stiff­en­ing things up but still re­main­ing ac­tive, so not lock­ing it out com­pletely. For the ma­jor­ity of the test, I left it in open and didn’t feel like I needed to make the switch aside from a few road climbs where I wanted to be out of the sad­dle. The Rock­Shox Reba fork comes with a re­mote lock­out lever, which did help when I wanted to make some fast sprint­ing ef­forts with­out the bob through the fork. The cor­ner­ing on the gen­tler gra­di­ents was re­laxed and man­age­able. It also felt very sure­footed in the cor­ners com­pared to a full-blown XC bike, though this did mean it wasn’t as nim­ble. The sturdy wheels along with the re­laxed ge­om­e­try most likely worked to­gether in this re­gard. On the steeper trails it was that lit­tle bit less nim­ble and more laboured, though not nearly as much as a larger ded­i­cated trail bike would feel. The slacker head an­gle of 69 degrees did let me ‘carve’ up­hill switch­backs very well, and I can see the ben­e­fits of the mel­lower an­gles. Though on small up­hill ‘steps’, like rocks, the short reach and slack head an­gle com­bined to put my body po­si­tion too far back and didn’t al­low me to get over the front of the bike enough to com­fort­ably tackle those sec­tions. The reach can be ad­dressed a lit­tle via stem length, but that has more to do with your fit. These ‘neg­a­tive’ points shouldn’t come as much sur­prise though as I men­tioned this form of the Edict has been geared to­wards de­scend­ing ca­pa­bly, not be­ing a com­plete rocket ship up the climbs. So, let’s de­scend! The first des­cent was a typ­i­cal XC trail with a good mix of steep sec­tions, fast and slow cor­ners and tech­ni­cal sec­tions. The rougher sec­tions cer­tainly high­lighted the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Edict 3 and es­pe­cially the 120mm forks and 2.25” Maxxis Ar­dent tyres. A typ­i­cal XC bike would be a lot twitchier but the bulkier build of the Edict kept it sure-footed and sta­ble. Another fac­tor keeping the Edict planted, es­pe­cially through the front end, is the head tube

“IT COM­BINES THE EF­FI­CIENCY OF AN XC PLAT­FORM WITH ENOUGH C APABILITY OF A TRAIL BIKE TO MAKE IT A VERY WELL- ROUNDED ‘ MOUN­TAIN BIKE’.”

stiff­ness, which is said by Felt to have a 24% in­crease in stiff­ness over the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion Edict. I’m not sure on the num­bers, though it did feel very di­rect through the front, which is wel­come when things start get­ting steep and rough. Speak­ing of the front end does lead to the reach. At 419mm it is 10mm shorter than the 429mm of the top XC Edict with the 100mm forks. Most ded­i­cated XC bikes from other man­u­fac­tur­ers sit around the 425-435mm range. With its ‘ca­pa­ble’ tagline it makes sense for the Edict 3 to have a shorter reach and aim to put the rider fur­ther be­hind the bike on steep sec­tions. I did feel I was fur­ther be­hind the bike and did feel more con­fi­dent when it got steep though I felt too cramped when I was at­tack­ing some sec­tions. I have had trail bikes in the past that have felt the same with slack head an­gles and a su­per short reach, which feel great on the su­per steep sec­tions in a straight line but not so much any­where else and do lack the real es­tate to move around and the lever­age to ma­noeu­vre the front. I do pre­fer my bikes to have a longer front-end, so it can come down to per­sonal pref­er­ence, though I do feel an in­crease in reach and front cen­tre, dis­tance be­tween the bot­tom bracket and front axle, would part­ner well with the slack 6 de­gree head an­gle to still make the Edict 3 ca­pa­ble but also more sta­ble and ma­noeu­vrable on a wider range of trails. Another odd choice for the more ca­pa­ble Edict build was the Shi­mano MT500 brakes, which seemed a bit over­whelmed when the go­ing got steep and a bump up to an XT or trail vari­ant brake would help con­trol the speed bet­ter - but also in­crease the price. My test oc­curred around the week­end of the Down­hill Na­tional Champs in Bright and I was lucky enough to get out on the track on the Mon­day af­ter to test the Edict on the lower sec­tion. This sec­tion was fast with big holes and deep pow­der left over from the rac­ing and was one of the key tracks where the Edict 3 felt at home. The slack head an­gle meant I was not too far over the front axle in the big holes and small drops and the 120mm forks kept the front-end rid­ing high, even with re­peat com­pres­sions. I was re­ally able to at­tack the sec­tion and ap­pre­ci­ated the stiff­ness of the Edict’s frame from the head tube to the bot­tom bracket. Push­ing the Edict through this style of trail gave me a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Edict 3.

OUR TAKE

I wasn’t sure what to ex­pect of the Edict 3 com­ing into this test. Was it go­ing to be an XC bike with 120mm forks or a short travel trail bike? I think at this point I would have to sit on the fence and go with both. It com­bines the ef­fi­ciency of an XC plat­form with enough ca­pa­bil­ity of a trail bike to make it a very well-rounded ‘moun­tain bike’. The reach is a bit of a prob­lem for me per­son­ally in class­ing it more of an XC race bike but its ca­pa­bil­i­ties in de­scend­ing make up for this. I can see the Edict 3 be­ing a great choice for those who like ef­fi­ciency when climb­ing up to their lo­cal grav­ity trails and don’t want to make the jump up to a bulkier trail bike. It would also be a great choice for begin­ner rid­ers also or rid­ers de­vel­op­ing skills to en­able them to tackle tougher XC tracks than they other­wise wouldn’t on a tra­di­tional XC bike. If you’re about all out XC per­for­mance, look fur­ther up the range, or con­sider hav­ing the fork dropped to 100mm and tune the parts kit with your Felt dealer.

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