’16 Felt V55 Adventure Bike Review

’16 Felt V55 Adventure Bike Review

FELT V55 – A DISC BRAKE ADVENTURE BIKE FOR THE BUDGET CONSCIENCE

'16 Felt V55In 2015, Felt introduced the V line of Adventure Bikes, with two models: the Felt V100 at $999 and the Felt V85 at $1,499. These bikes are aimed directly at the burgeoning adventure bike market and were really good values at their particular price points with well sorted geometry and solid component specifications. For ’16, Felt has expanded their category options with the higher spec Felt V55 at $2199, which just started shipping. I just finished building a ’16 Felt V55 for a client and it is a bike worth a review as the V55 offers a lot of performance, and a high level of component spec for a very reasonable price of admission.

“An aluminum bike at $2200? Don’t I want carbon?”

As opposed to other adventure bikes I’ve recently written about like the carbon Parlee Chebacco or titanium Moots Routt, the Felt V55’s frame is constructed of hydroformed, butted, TIG welded aluminum. However, don’t be too quick to scoff at aluminum as a material. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago when aluminum was the primary material quality bicycles were build. If used properly, aluminum can offer lighter weight than steel along with excellent stiffness for power transfer. However, aluminum fell out of common use on higher quality frames in favor of carbon fiber, in part because aluminum bikes had the reputation for having a harsh ride (at it often had to be overbuilt for durability) and carbon fiber prices came down markedly (learn more about carbon fiber manufacturing here). Aluminum was often consigned to most manufacturers’ entry level bikes. However, if you pay attention to what is happening in the market, some of the major manufacturers are reintroducing higher performance aluminum models that are not restricted to their under $2,000 bikes. This is happening for a few reasons and the continued refinement of hydroformed construction is one of the reasons.

What is Hydroforming?

Felt V55 Hydroformed TubingHydroforming basically consists of putting a round aluminum tube into mold of the desired tube shape and then pumping hydraulic fluid into the tube at very high pressure. This causes the aluminum tube to expand until its shape matches the mold. This is all done at room temperature, without heating the aluminum, which is a good thing for the strength of the tubing. The result is tubing that has a higher stiffness-to-weight ratio than was previously possible through conventional aluminum frame construction technologies while allowing for more shaping. Hydroforming has helped aluminum to be used in frame designs beyond standard round tubing and has allowed designers to control the overall ride quality of the frame with more precision as well. Both of these are “win-win” and thus allow a well executed aluminum frame to ride much better than some of those brutally harsh over-sized aluminum frames of decades past and usually at a very competitive price.

Felt V55 Frame Geometry and Fit

Like most bikes in the adventure bike category, the overall geometry of the Felt V55 is taller and shorter than your average road bike and the center of gravity is kept low to maximize stability. For example, the bottom bracket of the Felt V55 is lower to the ground than on a cross bike while the wheelbase and chainstays, which allows the bike to accept wider and taller tires. The head tube angle on the Felt V55 is a relatively slack 71 degrees and the combination of all of these things result in a bike that rides smooth over rough road surfaces while being stable and predictable.

The carbon fiber fork is of Felt own design and manufacture, with IS mount brake tabs. The tapered fork measures 1.125″ at the top, and 1.5″ at the bottom, for increased front end stiffness and better control. The carbon fork will help absorb road shock and vibration while being stiff laterally for solid and precise handling. Felt also did a good job of putting fender mounts on the frame and fork, showing that they understand the potentially broad range of use people will put the bike through.

The ’16 Felt V55 uses standard quick release dropouts. At $2200 and with the component spec of this bike we guess that the added expense of a thru axle design was just a little too much for the current V series to offer. Quick release levers work just fine in this application, but aren’t quite as rigid and require a little bit more care when a wheel is installed than thru axle.

The Felt V55 comes in seven sizes: 43, 45, 51, 54, 56, 58, and 61cm, as do the Felt V100 and the Felt V85. While the V55 will not fit everyone, this is a broad range of sizing that will accommodate a good number of riders well. As with any bike, you don’t want to choose the bike under the assumption that it can be made to fit you after the fact. This is a big gamble and means compromise at the least and almost always additional expense in the long-term. Be sure to get a Rider First Bike Fitting first or have us use the information from your fitting to find out if the Felt V55 is a good match for your riding position. This is a guaranteed method of bike selection that is far more reliable than test riding and other variable and easily manipulated methods.

Felt V55 Drivetrain Specifications

Both the front and rear mechanical derailleurs found on the Felt V55 are Shimano Ultegra 6800. The rear derailleur is the medium cage GS model, so the bike comes equipped with a nice wide range Shimano 5800 11-32 cassette. One of the great spec choices on the Felt V55 is the Shimano Ultegra 6800 crankset, with 50/34 chainrings. If the 6800 derailleurs are a surprise at this price level, the 6800 crankset is absolutely stunning as it is one of the best functioning cranks on the market and a place wShimano ST-RS505 Hydraulic Road Leverhere many manufacturers cut costs. We appreciate that Felt has changed some of their frames back to the “older” threaded standard and the Felt V55 is one of them. The threaded bottom bracket design is very proven and does a good job of minimizing creaks and Felt has threaded a solid set of Shimano bearings into the frame.

The 11 speed shifter/brake levers on the Felt V55 are Shimano ST-RS505. This is a Shimano 105 level component, providing full hydraulic braking with up to 10mm of in/out lever adjustment, so riders with smaller hands can reach the brake levers more comfortably. Admittedly these lever housing are not as elegant looking as some of Shimano’s other shifters as they are longer than most. However, they are high quality and the ergonomics are very good.

Felt V55 Brakes

At the price point of the ’16 Felt V55 you will frequently find bikes with mechanical disc brakes, or maybe hybrid mechanical/hydShimano ST-RS505 Brake Caliperraulic, such as the TRP HY/RD. The Felt V55 features full hydraulic brakes– not only are they hydraulic brakes, but they are Shimano (ST-RS505) hydraulic brakes. The bike comes with Shimano Ice-Tech Center Lock rotors, 160 mm in the front and 140 mm in the rear. The combination provides powerful braking with good brake feel once the brake pads are bedded in. As heat build-up is a major concern in any braking system, the combination of rotor design plus the finned brake pads help to dissipate heat and Shimano’s Ice-Tech system is known to be one of the best in this regard.

It is worth noting that in our initial experience, the ST-RS505 brake levers do not have the same feel as Shimano’s top of the line hydraulic levers with more initial lever travel before pad contact. The brakes are plenty strong, but for riders used to immediate pad contact, your expectations will need to be adjusted. While there are some mountain bike disc brake levers (like SRAM’s Guide RSC) that have adjustable pad contact, we look forward to this technology eventually being applied to road hydraulic brakes. We suspect this may not be happening anytime soon though…

Felt V55 Spec Conclusion

One thing we like about the Felt V55 is that it has a very strong spec for its price with many Ultegra level parts; full hydraulic brakes and a “complete Shimano” kit without a lot of cheaper parts from “house brands” subbed in to save costs. Anyone who has ridden a bike equipped with Shimano’s latest generation of Shimano components will know that the shifting performance will be virtually flawless, both front and rear. The spec on the Felt V55 is hard to fault and will outperform many competitors in this price range.

Felt V55 Cockpit, Saddle and Wheels

The aluminum alloy handlebars on the Felt V55 are of the short and shallow variety, and are made by Felt. The stock alloy stem is Felt’s own design that and it offers rise/drop adjustment of 8 degrees or 16 degrees, depending on the alignment of a shim that is inserted between the stem and the fork steerer tube. If you have worked with Fit Werx before, you know that some of this spec matters little as we set the bike up to your needs and fit numbers in our Pro Build. This makes it easier to set the proper handlebar height for the individual rider. The Felt V55 comes equipped with a ProLogo Kappa EVO PAS saddle, mounted to Felt’s Dirt Roadown carbon fiber seatpost.

The wheels on the Felt V55 consist of Novatec rims attached to Felt R2 Center Lock disc brake hubs. The front wheel has 24 spokes, and the rear has 28 spokes. The wheels are mounted with name brand Challenge Strada Bianca OT Pro, 700c x 30c tires. If that is not wide enough for you, the frame can accommodate tires up to 38mm wide – so a nice wide range that will meet the needs of many riders well.

If you do a great deal of dirt road riding and encounter sand and loose gravel frequently (events like the Rasputitsa or D2R2 are good examples) , you may want to consider investing in a set of wider tires and if you plan on spending the majority of your time on the pavement you may want to go a little narrower. Otherwise, ride this bike on the paved and dirt roads as is and the stock tires will treat you pretty well.

Felt V55: A Good Choice for the Rider on a Budget

Paved RoadAll of these various elements make the Felt V55 a very capable bike for both paved roads and dirt roads. At a price of $2,199, this bike is a bargain, particularly with the drivetrain and brake spec. We also see a number of riders buy an adventure bike like the Felt V55 and then turn it into one road bike for all conditions and rides by purchasing a second set of wheels. For well under $3000, you can have your Felt V55 and a second set of wheels and brake rotors with 25mm wide tires and you now have a bike that will give up little against a standard traditional road bike on the pavement while just taking a swap of wheels to give you a great dirt road blaster too.

Looking for an all-road bike on a budget? The V55 is a very good option for any rider in this price range and that it fits well. Contact us to learn more about our fitting and bike selection services and start to find the best bike options for your needs today!

About Jim

After almost thirty years as an attorney, Jim decided he was ready for a change in 2007. After being a Fit Werx client for years, Jim started working with us as part of an internship and he went full-time at Fit Werx in early 2009. In the summer of 2010 Jim assumed the Service Manager role for our Vermont location and is now a mainstay. Whether he is helping a rider find a good road ride in the area, fixing a pesky bottom bracket issue, or carefully building up someone’s new bike to their positioning numbers, Jim is an accomplished technician, a great resource and here to help.

Find out more about Jim Here

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11 Responses to ’16 Felt V55 Adventure Bike Review
  • Brad Long

    I purchased this bike when it came out. I have two regrets. 1. Not enough frame clearance to add wider tires. 2. The lack of front mounting points for front panniers on a bike advertised as an adventure bike. Maybe adventure doesn’t mean touring, or the designers thought having a carbon fork was more important? I see Felt has discontinued the model and has replace it with the BROAM which has mounting points for a front rack. I am considering reaching out to Felt to see if I could replace my fork with the one on the BROAM. Overall the V55 has done well for my needs. My commutes to work have paid back for this bike and the bike has taken me on a few very long road adventures. It is sketchy on trails and manages gravel OK due to narrower tires. So, mini adventures (sub week long) around rural developed areas is what this bike is good for.

  • Ben

    Hi,

    Thanks for the detailed review, really appreciate it.
    About the weight of the bike, I heard some like 22.5+ lbs, could it be pedals included, or larger sizes? Do you remember the frame sizes for the weights you mention?

    Also, about the stem positioning, in most photos including yours, I saw the stem placed upwards (rise instead of drop) even though on the product photos it’s the other way around. Is it due to some odd geometry introduced by the bike, or just a regular body fit arrangement depending on the rider?

    Thanks

    • Ian

      Hi,

      The V55 models we have built have generally been in the 21-21.5 lbs range with a reasonably light pair of pedals and in a medium to small size. A bigger size and/or with heavy pedals could push it past 22 lbs.

      We don’t want the rider to have to fit the bike, the bike should fit the rider and thus we Rider Match each bike we sell to the rider’s specific needs. In the case of the bike used in the photos, the rider’s position was best achieved with a stem with some rise. “Up” or “down” on the stem is fine, as long as the set-up stays within manufacturer recommended tolerances in terms of the angle, headset spacers and length of the stem.

      Best,
      Fit Werx

  • Alex

    Nice write-up! Can you share the bike weight, as Felt doesn’t mention anything about it in the specs. Thanks

    • Ian

      Hi Alex,

      Good question. While the different sizes all weigh out a little different from each other, I can tell you that the ones we have built up so far have been between 21lbs and 21.5lbs, depending on frame size.
      Give us a call or drop an email if you have questions. We’re here to help.

  • Brian

    Hi, You provided a great review. I have finally saved up for my first bike however I am torn between the Felt V55, Z4 Disc and Z5.

    I am leaning toward the V55 because like you mentioned changing out the wheels would make it a viable road bike. Would this bike with changed out wheels be a good option for a 100 mile’er, 70.3 half, …? Unfortunately I have not been able to ride this bike. The other option is a dedicated road bike ie Z4 or Z5.

    If you only could purchase one bike would it be the V55?

    Thank you for your time and opinion.

    • Ian

      Glad you enjoyed the review! The V55 would make a very good distance road bike, but it may not be my first choice for a road bike used for triathlon as it will be heavier and a bit less aero than the other two bikes mentioned. If you are looking for one bike to do paved and dirt roads with, the V55 is a great option. On the other hand, if you are staying on the pavement and participating in triathlons, the Z series of bikes will work a little better. Of course, this is all dependent on both bikes fitting you the same, so make sure you start with a Fit Werx fitting (which is not like what 99% of bike shops provide) first as that will clarify what bikes will work best. Hope this helps!

  • Tomer Elias

    This is a great review, one question I have is on your recommendations for use. I commute on a bike everywhere, and during any weather, getting about 3-4k miles a year for the past 3 years. I’ve been using a Giant Defy 3 2014 model, but I’m looking to upgrade to a bike with disk breaks and your review has convinced me that hydraulic are the way to go. Do you think that this is a good bike to take on a daily commute, 6-10 miles per day, and for the occasional longer distant rides?

    • Ian

      Hi,

      The Felt V55 would make a very good commuter bike and should do well on 6-10 mile daily commutes. Most bikes with Shimano 105 or better components would work well in this regard. Hope this helps and be sure to come in for a Rider First Fitting with us before you buy to make sure the Felt V55 is a good match.

  • Josh

    Any opinions on this bike vs the V85? I have a Giant Roam 0 currently, but I’m looking for my first “real” bike that is more road oriented.

    Prefer the V85 for looks, but I understand the wheelset, brakes and specifically the drivetrain are better on the V55.

    Not sure if for a beginner (I tow a kid trailer alot and weekend warrior ride on the paved trails near my house), the V55 is worth the ~$700 difference, or if the spec is just too much value to turn down.

    My initial thought was to get the V85 assuming its the same quality frame, and then as I develop preferences, upgrade the tires and other components above 105 spec as I develop a preference.

    • Ian

      Hi Josh,
      The V55 and V85 share a frame, so they are both good bases and offer strong value in that department. The 105 parts on the V85 are solid, but the Ultegra drivetrain and hydraulic brakes on the V55 are hard to fault at the price point. Assuming the V bikes fit you well (the best place to start is a Fit Werx fitting or using your fit data with us from your previous Fit Werx fitting), I think you will find either one a nice step-up from your current Giant. I personally would find the hydraulic brakes, Ultegra drivetrain and other perks on the V55 worth the extra dollars. However, there is nothing wrong with 105 if you want to hit a lower price point and the matte black is pretty cool…

      Contact us via the web or call me at 802-496-7570 if you want to speak more about how to find a great bike for your needs. It all starts with the right bike fit in advance of choosing a new bike…

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