Review: 2013 Felt B2
Sep 4, 2013
article & images by Nick Salazar
It's been exactly one year since Felt Bicycles invited us to their headquarters in Irvine, California, and unveiled their brand new lineup of tri bikes. The highlights included the introduction of the TorHans VR bottle as stock equipment on the entire line, a brand new Bayoned 3 aerobar in carbon and aluminum, and best of all, the completely-redesigned B2 frame. Put simply, the B2 was going to be the little brother to the flagship DA, meant to deliver almost all of the features and aerodynamic performance for a much smaller price.
But honestly, I don't think Felt did exactly what they set out to do, because in some ways, I like the new B2 better than its older and more expensive sibling. The B2 is simpler, easier to build, easier to fit/adjust, and easier to travel with. I've had my eye on the bike for the last year, and finally got the chance to snag one and build it up, TriRig style. Before we get into my build, however, I want to delve into the frame itself, and talk a little bit more about the merits I just outlined above.
Oh, and one last thing. I will refer to the bike in this article as the B2. However, we're talking about the exact same frame currently being sold by Felt as the B2, the B12, the B14, and the B14-W. They're all identical. The only B-series frame NOT based on this mold is the B16, which is using the previous-generation molds. But everything I have to say about the B2 applies to the B12, B14, and B14-W as well.
Integration + Objectivity
To be fair, I should identify the fact that I have a bit of a bias towards this bike, because it's compatible with the parts I make, including the Alpha bar, Omega brakes, and Sigma stem. Some of today's more integrated bikes aren't compatible with one or another of those products. Nevertheless, I try to be as fair as possible, giving plenty of attention to bikes like the New Trek Speed Concept, the Orbea Ordu, and Felt's own all-new IA, even when they can't run all or even most of my parts. Like any bike, the highly-integrated ones have their own merits and their own drawbacks. Integrated setups can be beautiful and incredibly clean, but can come with higher weight, more difficult setup, etc. More traditional bikes *can* be made to be very clean, which is the philosophy behind TriRig products, but there are limits to what you can do with a standard component, based on that component's interface. For example, stems are limited by the fact that bar clamps are 31.8mm or 26.0mm in diameter, and headset bearings also come in predetermined sizes, typically 1-1/8”.
TriRig isn't alone in exploring the philosophy of working with standard interfaces instead of creating proprietary ones. Every bike company has its own position along the spectrum of how much integration is ideal. The Speed Concept is at one end of the spectrum, where everything is integrated. Cervelo, on the other hand, kept standard interfaces all over their flagship P5 frame, leaving traditional components all over the bike, and trying to clean up those traditional components in the same way TriRig tries to do.
Again, despite the bias that the TriRig Store represernts, I always try to be as fair and objective as possible in these features, to let the reader make up their own minds. Both philosophies have a lot to offer, and ultimately, both a highly-integrated bike AND a highly-refined traditional bike can be made to be really awesome. This week, I'm exploring the merits of a traditional setup. In a couple weeks, we'll visit the exact opposite end of the spectrum when I review the new Trek Speed Concept. And I try to leave the reader with a genuine sense of fairness, completeness, and objectivity in the reviews. But if I'm missing the mark, don't hesitate to let me know. Call me out if I'm being unfair, using the comments section below. Ok, everybody good with that? Let's dive right in and get started on the Felt B2.