Bicycle Review: Felt Nine 60(2013)

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End of season sales bring along big discounts, so we’d advise you to visit your local bike shop in order to see what’s up for grabs. If you happen to encounter a Felt Nine 60, that’s even better, because we had the chance to test it recently and made up our impression of this contender belonging to a premium manufacturer. Its main rivals which we tested are the Cube AIM Disc 29er and the Cross Big Foot, so with these standards in our minds, we set off to convince ourselves how much of a good deal the Nine 60 is.

Frame/On the trail

Compared to the above-mentioned two models, the Felt Nine 60 stands as an interesting compromise between agility and comfort. The 71-degree head tube angle enforces agility, whereas the 73-degree seat tube angle doesn’t favour climbers by the position thus generated. Even if the Nine 60 has recreational rides in its spirit, cross-country usage suits it very well also, despite the 14.72 kilograms it weighs, reffering to a 16-inch frame.

The general position on the bike embodies comfort and, as I rode on, it became obvious that Felt designed the model to have a bit of everything, finally representing the ideal compromise of its class. I’ll have to stress the fact that comfort is an absolute achievement of this model, every single part making sense in this complicated equation, smooth riding occuring even if the tire were inflated to high pressure.

Nine 60’s frame tops the 2 competitors in terms of weight by at least 250 grams, reaching the same level as a Scott frame, a thing that you would expect coming from a premium manufacturer. It’s not as stiff as the Cube or Cross, but the frame’s stiffness of 86.9 Nm/degree is in normal limits, so if you weigh under 100 kilograms, you’ll have no problem enjoying the bike’s features.

A simple allen key will be enough to unlock/lock the seat clamp, the mechanism lacking a quick release system, so if you want to operate various seat heights you’ll have to have your tool kit with you. As for finishing touches, they live up to the level of the manufacturer’s reputation, the paint does as well, and the bike also includes a luggage rack mount and a single water bottle cage mount. Also, noteworthy is the fact that Nine 60’s sizing starts from 14 inches, making it suitable for short persons.

Specifications

For starters, I’ll just say that the general impression is that the specifications chart holds back this bike. Eventhough built around a relatively light frame, components such as the wheels, brakes or crankset take their toll on the scale.

Included in the 3×9 drivetrain mix are Shimano components, coming from the Non-Series ranges, (the crankset), from the Acera range (the front derailleur), and from the Deore range (rear derailleur), the latter benefiting from a Shadow design. The shifters belong to the Acera range and do not have a 2-Way Release function and neither do they have an elegant appearance.

Another small disappointment sits in the Tektro Drako brakes, which position themselves under the general average of braking power and modulation, but are saved by the 180mm rotor mounted on the front wheel which fulfills its mission on longer and steeper descents. The fork performs decently, but as well under the average, the 100mm of travel lacking refinement and a softer coil.

Tipping the scale at 5.3 kilograms, the complete wheelset isn’t exactly helpful for accelerating, but at least the WTB rims and Geax Aka 29×2.2 tires demonstrate good features, the latter noticing itself by the high rolling speed and comfort they offer. Tight corners will prove more than a match for the small knobs of the Akas however, while the hubs belong to the Shimano Non-Series range and have ball bearings instead of the more reliable simple bearings.

I’m probably repeating myself, but I have no other option than to remind you what a comfortable saddle the Nine 60 features. Besides being probaly the most comfty one, other parts like the handlebar grips enhance the great position you experience on this bike.

Conclusion

The 29er version of the Felt Nine 60 bridges the gap between comfort and performance like few other bikes in its class do. Still, it’s orientated to recreational riding and a more sensitive fork would have made more sense in this case, like a stronger brake set would have also made. Bottom line is that the frame is performant and consistent with the idea of upgrading it in time, but only valuable in the situation in which you’ll get it a discount price. The total weight is lower than that of its competitors’, still it does not impress.

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