Felt Launches New IA
Jul 14, 2015
article & images by Nick Salazar
The Felt IA has been an undeniable success since its launch in 2013. Since then, it has won two Ironman World Championship titles under Mirinda Carfrae, and a number of other high-profile races. The first model introduced was eye-poppingly expensive at $12,000 for the complete bike. Last year, Felt introduced lower-priced versions coming in at half that cost. It was the exact same bike with less-expensive carbon, and lower-end components.
Now, Felt continues to refine the IA lineup with the bikes you see here, internally called the IAx, but officially still just the IA. The new bike retains the aero design of the original, including tube shapes, integrated bento box, and narrow front end. Well, they're mostly the same, and we'll get to that. To be clear, the original version of the IA is still available, with all of its bells and whistles. Those will be the higher-end builds that end in single digits (IA 2, IA 3, and IA FRD). The new model has double-digit model numbers (IA 10, IA 14, IA 16). On the new less-expensive models, the integrated cockpit has been replaced with a standard stem, aerobar, and brake. The rear brake also loses the cover and goes to an aftermarket spec, replacing the integrated brake and cover of the original models.
Perhaps even more interesting are the subtle differences in the new IA's frame. The new frame is an entirely new mold, with some subtle revisions that Felt says actually make it FASTER than the completely integrated IA, at least before you add brakes. Intuitively this makes some sense; rather than utilize a bayonet steerer that breaks the aero chord into two pieces with a split in the middle, the entire airfoil from the very front of the bike to the back of the head tube gusset is one smooth shape. It's a whopping 11-to-1 cross section at its deepest. Other minor shape revisions were able to eke out even more speed, Felt says. Once you add the stock brakes, bars, and stem, the new IA becomes a little slower than its higher-priced brother. But I'm guessing you can make this bike smoking fast (and maybe faster than the original IA) with aftermarket brakes and bars. I'm hoping to get one of these to build, and do just that.
The bike includes a snazzy new stem from Felt that helps with cable management and offers a pretty low frontal area. But the steerer tube is standard 1-1/8", so that stem could be replaced with any other bar or bar/stem combo. Other new features include a triple-boss bottle mount on the down tube (the original IA only has a bottle mount on the seat tube), and a pair of bosses on the back of the seat tube for aftermarket storage, or mounting something else custom like a TorHans VR bottle.
And one other very cool feature: there's a small cap at on the top of the bike, just in front of the head tube. This cap allows storage of a Di2 junction box - brilliant!
Pricing begins at $2,999 for a complete bike, up to $4,999 for the Di2 version. This fully half the price of last year's cheapest IA, and leaves a lot of pricing room for future upgrades. And yes, there will be a frameset available - no pricing on that yet. We've written a lot about the Felt IA, and we will be very interested to see more about this bike as the year unfolds. It's likely going to be a very compelling option for triathletes looking for a serious upgrade. Obviously I'm biased towards bikes with standard interfaces, but a lot of athletes having endured the headaches of some integrated parts can understand why having more easily-serviced parts can be a very good thing. Have a look at the gallery below of the new rig.
The New IA
Internally referred to as the IAx, Felt's new IA frame slides in as a lower-priced alternative to the fully-integrated bike it released two years ago. The new model has a chassis just as fast (actually faster) than the previous bike, and standard interfaces to make life easier (and less expensive) for the end user.
The original top-tier IA remains unchanged other than getting a new paint scheme with the new Felt logo.