By Neil Browne,
In the heart of Orange County, California, tucked between the 405 freeway and the Santa Ana Mountains, Felt Bicycles has quietly been producing some amazing rigs.
Just a few miles away, Trabuco Canyon is Felt’s testing grounds, and with those trails in mind produced the Virtue Nine models—a 29er only trail bike designed for all conditions. The previous Virtue models were 26ers, but Felt went back to the drawing board to completely redesign the 2014 line.
Central to that re-do was improving ride quality in all types of conditions.
“We’ve been working on this for quite awhile,” explained Scott Sharples, Felt’s mountain bike product manager. In this thick Australian accent, Sharples stated the Virtue model descends well and can haul you back up the mountain without having to grab the ski lift.
The former pro mountain biker gives credit to the Virtues’ 69 degree head tube angle. “We didn’t want to go super slack. It still needed to be nimble enough for the climbs.”
Another design feature of the Virtue was to keep the chainstays and wheelbase tight with the result a snappy handling trail bike that could be pressed into cross-country racing.
In order to shorten the chainstay to 450mm the front derailleur needed to be repositioned. This also allowed Felt to stiffen the bottom bracket area. To reduce weight further than the previous Virtue versions, the seatstays are slimmed down. The pivot points are ball bearings with 15mm aluminum axles.
Felt’s Equilink suspension got an upgrade on the 2014 Virtue with a larger diameter 7075 aluminum lower link axles. To further beef up the strength quotient, the double row angular contact bearings are 10 percent lighter and 60 percent stronger. The Equilink suspension is tuned to give the feel of a bike with more than the advertised 130mm of travel.
The other change to the Virtue model is a thru-axle 142×12 rear dropout with a replaceable derailleur hanger.
With the exception of the Virtue Nine 60 (the gateway model into the Virtue group) the complete line features a dropper post with the Nine 1 sporting the RockShox Reverb Stealth with internal routing.
RockShox delivers Felt’s suspension needs throughout the Virtue line-up. The drivetrain for the flagship Virtue Nine 1 is SRAM’s XO 11-speed with a 30 tooth chainring. Post style disc brakes are a feature of the Virtue Nine model and eliminates an additional bracket or adapter for 160mm brake rotors.
The Nine 1 is Felt’s top of the line model in the Virtue line. Constructed from UHC Advanced carbon fiber, the Nine 1 tips the scales at five pounds, including the shock. In addition to the Nine 1, Felt also offers a carbon Nine 3. The Virtue Nine also has three aluminum offerings (Nine 20, Nine 50, Nine 60) available in the Fall and Felt anticipates the carbon Nine 1 hitting bike shops in late December or early next year.
- Virtue Nine 1: $6,199
- Virtue Nine 3: $4,149
- Virtue Nine 20: $3,799
- Virtue Nine 50: $2,799
- Virtue Nine 60: $2,199
- Frame Kit (carbon) $3,499
Sizes: small (16”), medium (18”), large (20”) and X-large (22”)