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​With shorter travel trail bikes gaining in popularity as their capabilities increase, Felt found itself with a bit of a gap in the line-up between the 160-mm, 27.5" Compulsion enduro bike and the Virtue 29er. Launching today, the all-new Decree was designed as a pure trail bike by definition, but as we all know, boundaries tend to blur and rules are made to be broken. We traveled to Lake Garda in Italy to discover what the Decree is all about and to put it through its paces on the demanding trails of this spectacular region.

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Felt Decree FRD Highlights

  • FINISH: Matte Textreme (Blue, Red)
  • SIZES: SM (16”), MD (18”), LG (20”), XL (22”)
  • WEIGHT: 11.17kg / 24.63lb (medium, no pedals)
  • FRAME: Felt Trail, UHC Ultimate + TeXtreme carbon fiber, DMC w/ InsideOut construction, Full carbon dropouts, 140mm travel, FAST Suspension, ControlTaper head tube, post disc mount, replaceable derailleur hanger, standard 73mm threaded bottom bracket, 12 x 142mm w/ Syntace style thru axle, internal derailleur cable/brake hose/dropper post routing, Ø30.9mm seatpost size, high direct FD mount
  • SHOCK: Rock Shox Monarch Plus RC3, Debonair with High Volume eyelet,custom tune, 200 x 57
  • FORK: Rock Shox Pike RCT3 Dual Position Air, 150mm
  • HEADSET: FSA NO.42/CF/ACB-A w/8.7mm Carbon custom cone spacer
  • STEM: Easton Haven threadless 1-1/8”, 0° rise for Ø31.8mm handlebar SM/MD - 55mm LG/XL - 70mm
  • HANDLEBAR: Easton Haven carbon, Ø31.8mm, 20mm rise, 5° bend, 9° sweep, (720mm)
  • GRIPS: ESI RACERS EDGE
  • BAR ENDS/CAPS: ESI bar plugs
  • SHIFTERS: SRAM XX1 11-speed Trigger
  • REAR DERAILLEUR: SRAM XX1
  • CRANKSET: Race Face Next SL SM - 170mm MD/LG/XL - 175mm
  • CHAINWHEEL: 32T
  • BOTTOM BRACKET: Race Face 73mm
  • CHAIN: SRAM XX1
  • FREEWHEEL: SRAM XG1199, 11-speed, 10-42T
  • BRAKE LEVERS: SRAM Guide Ultimate w/ carbon lever
  • FRONT BRAKE: SRAM Guide Ultimate w/ carbon lever, 180mm rotor
  • REAR BRAKE: SRAM Guide Ultimate w/ carbon lever, 160mm rotor
  • CABLES: Felt sealed slick
  • SADDLE: WTB SL8 Carbon - Carbon rails
  • SEAT POST: Rock Shox Reverb Stealth SM/MD - Ø30.9 x 355mm - 100mm travel LG/XL - Ø30.9 x 380mm - 125mm travel
  • SEAT POST CLAMP: Aluminum 7075 CNC w/ titanium bolt Ø34.9mm
  • RIMS / WHEELSET: Enve 27.5” 60 Forty carbon
  • FRONT HUB: Chris King ISO, 15x100
  • REAR HUB: Chris King ISO, 12x142, XD driver for SRAM 1x11
  • SPOKES: DT Swiss
  • TIRES: Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snakeskin, TL ready, Folding, 27.5 x 2.25

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Development

Felt's stated goal with the Decree was to build "the ultimate trail bike". When the engineers first started exploring the concept, the first test mules offered an opportunity to test the 27.5" wheelsize.  Building on some of the concepts developed on its shorter travel XC bikes, the development team ended up settling on the company's "FAST" suspension platform for the new bike. FAST, or "Felt Active Stay Technology" is based on a single pivot layout and a flexible rear triangle that does away with the need for a pivot between chainstay and seatstay. The early prototypes were well received, and a "hard point" mule was welded up to nail down the definitive placement of pivot points and geometry.

Decree alloy prototype.

3D printing technology was used as a means to bridge the gap between CAD drawings and reality, allowing the engineers to discover any hidden integration issues between the various parts of the frame and the components of the bike.

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Felt's engineers wanted a bike that offered a lively and plush suspension feel, but that would still resist bottoming out. Of course, the new bike had to also be a very efficient pedaler. They settled on a combination of a degressive leverage ratio (which makes the shock progressively harder to compress as the suspension goes through its travel) and a specific shock tune, coupled with anti-squat values that were optimized around a 34t chainring. Interestingly, the flexible stays were designed to be neutral at sag. To either extend or compress the rear suspension the stays have to flex - effectively creating a suspension system that strives to bring the wheel back to the sag point, which also helps create a more stable pedalling "platform". The effect of the resistance of the stays is estimated to the equivalent of about 10psi of air pressure in the shock.

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As for the shock tune, Felt worked with RockShox and came up with a shock with a relatively low compression tune and high air volume. When paired with the progressive suspension layout and the flexible carbon stays, the developers found that this resulted in a bike that pedaled well, could withstand big hits, yet was still able to remain active to absorb small bumps. Of course, a further added benefit of FAST is the reduction of frame complexity (removal of a pivot) and lower weight.

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In terms of frame features, Felt held nothing back. The Decree features internal cable routing that uses a configurable system of cable ports to accommodate all kinds of different cables. The lower cable port (under the BB) can cleverly also house a Shimano Di2 battery should you wish to go electronic for your shifting. The cable ports are tightened down to hold the cables securely in place, providing enough tension to keep them from rattling around inside the frame.

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The frame is compatible with a front derailleur, but a small blanking plate is provided to hide the mount for 1x builds. Clever little "wedgies" hold the cables under the chainstays, once again in an effort to quiet the bike down as much as possible. The seat stays are equipped with flip chips that allow the rider to modify the BB height by 10-mm, and the head angle by almost 1 degree (66.5-67.3). Felt settled on the classic threaded 73-mm BB, which they feel is more reliable and less prone to creaking than many pressfit BB solutions.

In regards to frame construction, Felt's "TeXtreme" carbon fiber layup has allowed the company to hit very aggressive weight and stiffness targets, thanks to a checkerboard weave that allows them to use less resin. At 2380-grams including shock, the frame is one of the lightest 140-mm travel frames we have come across to date. Felt claims it is also by far the stiffest bike they have produced, backed up by in-house testing (which also included many competitors' frames for reference).

The Decree is a fine piece of engineering. The ducks could care less.

On The Trail/Riding Impressions

The Lake Garda region is famous for its technical trails and stunning views. The latter would sadly turn out to be slightly less stunning than usual due to the distinctly uncooperative weather, which on the other hand only added to the former. Despite the less-than-ideal atmospheric conditions the journalists on hand for the launch were all excited to be let loose on the trails aboard the Decree. After working out our settings, we headed out on a few different test loops (that we had familiarized ourselves with the previous day aboard Felt's previous generation of bikes).

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The Decree is a light bike. In fact, it's a very light bike. Despite the lack of heft however, it quickly became apparent that this was far from a wet noodle. And perhaps more surprisingly, it also turned out to be a very stable bike. Lake Garda riding is all about those rocks, and many of the lines on offer here will have you looking twice before committing. The 150-mm Pike is a proven performer up front, but the 140-mm on offer out back never felt overwhelmed nor did the bike feel shaken up by the rough terrain. The progressive nature of the rear linkage helps ramp up on bigger hits, and we never experienced any harsh bottom outs throughout the test rides.

The Decree seems to punch above its weight - photo by John Shafer.

We rode the bike in the low and slack setting, which really helped to provide that in-the-bike feeling. The geometry is fairly standard "trail bike" issue, and we found the Decree to be a very neutral performer overall. A "mistake" in the early parts of the development process left the Decree with a 66.5-degree head angle (instead of the planned 67.5), which we applaud as a very beneficial mistake indeed (as did the prototype test riders of course, which is why that number made production). The chain stays are a short 430-mm, with the reach on our size L test bike sitting at 441-mm, leaving us with a roomy bike that feels as home in the twisty stuff as it does when you open up on faster sections.

The Decree was easy to get along with and confidence inspiring - photo by John Shafer.

When it comes to earning your turns, the Decree is slightly more confusing. On the one hand, it is ridiculously light (our size L, US-spec FRD model weighed in at 26.10-lbs or 11.80-kg with pedals and some mud, which is really quite an impressive number for such a capable bike), and it is a very efficient pedaller, on the other hand, the seat tube angle is just slack enough (73-degrees) to leave us feeling slightly behind the the bike on the steeper climbs. Felt lowered the whole seat tube area by about 10-mm on the Decree compared to previous models, in an effort to accommodate a wider range of riders for any given frame size, which perhaps explains why the effective seat tube angle is relatively slack once you extend the saddle, nevertheless we think it could have been pushed up just a bit. Coupled with the very low weight of the bike, this climbing position tends to cause the front end to wander around a fair bit in the steep parts too.

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Swapping over to the steeper geo setting should help remedy this issue and would most likely make the bike a better companion for long days spent racking up the miles, but we had so much fun riding the bike in the low and slack setting that we never really got around to testing that aspect. The fact that the adjustability is there is a definitive plus in any case. The 2 top tier builds also get the travel adjust version of the Pike, yet another tool to help make long climbs more bearable, at least if most of your climbing takes place on fire roads.

So who is the Decree for? It's perhaps not such an easy question to answer. The fact is, it is more capable than its numbers will let on. That probably makes it perfect for many riders who don't really need a full 160-mm enduro bike, but who might have been riding one because of the stability and forgiveness on offer. Of course, if you already consider yourself a "trail rider", the Decree was made for you. It's fast, agile, snappy, yet confidence inspiring, and it will let you go out and have a little extra-curricular fun every now and then too. You might have to commit to the steeper and taller geo setting if your riding involves a lot of long and steep climbs, but for everybody else, low and slack turns the Decree into a very fun machine for slaying trail.

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Build Kit

We rode the top of the line FRD model. It's the no-holds-barred, all-in at the carbon table banger build. Our EURO-spec bike featured the ENVE 60 Forty wheels (replaced by a DT Swiss wheel in the US), the Race Face Next SL carbon cranks, SRAM's XX1 drivetrain and Guide Ultimate brakes, an Easton carbon handlebar, and an eye-watering price tag of something like $12,000 at today's exchange rate. The US build of the FRD will retail for $9,999. Still a pretty penny indeed, but at this price, as you would expect, there is not much to upgrade. Felt specced a 70-mm stem on the 2 larger sizes, a decision they feel is logical. At 6'0 (1m84) riding a size Large we would certainly have swapped it for a 50, and since we're on the topic of the cockpit, we would have loved to see a wider bar than the distinctly short Haven featured on our test bike too. You can always cut a bar, but making it longer involves money which should definitely not have to be the case at this level of spend.

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In terms of performance, the build was flawless. The specific tune provided on the Monarch Plus was very effective, and the Pike requires little by way of introduction nor do we really need to point out yet again how well it performs on the trail. The ENVE wheels are stiff and roll fast. SRAM's XX1 is smooth and dependable, as are indeed the Guide Ultimate brakes. Schwalbe's Nobby Nic gave us plenty of grip on the wet Dolomite rock, and they are plenty fast rolling too. All in all, the FRD build has few weak points.

Felt Decree Geometry

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Pricing

Of course, for those looking for more affordable options than the top of the line FRD we rode at the launch, Felt also offers 3 additional Decree models: the Decree 1, the Decree 3, and the Decree 30 (aluminum). The Decree 1 and 3 feature a slightly heavier frame (which uses a heavier carbon weave and layup), while the Decree 30 employs an aluminum front triangle (with the same carbon rear triangle as the full carbon models). Full US pricing is as follows:

Decree FRD: $9,999
Decree 1: $6,499
Decree 3: $4,499
Decree 30: $3,499

Decree FRD Frame: $3,999
Decree 1 Frame: $2,999

Decree 1.

Decree 3 - the one with the color everybody wants.

Decree 30.

For more information, head on over to www.feltbicycles.com

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