Introducing the Felt Decree 3. A freshly designed, versatile and light trail bike.
For ’16, Felt has introduced a new line of 27.5” trail bikes, dubbed the Decree. The idea behind the Felt Decree was to design and build a mountain bike that would be stiff and responsive when applying power, compliant and smooth when descending and highly adjustable. This is a recipe for versatility that allows the rider to both climb well and descend with confidence. The Felt Decree line is available in a wide range of spec and frame levels ranging from the entry level $3500 alloy frame equipped Felt Decree 30 up through the top of the line $9999 high modulus carbon, SRAM XX1 equipped Felt Decree FRD. For now, we’re going to review something more in the middle of the Decree line – the Decree 3, listing for $4,499. The Felt Decree 3 is an impressive bike that is worth consideration for the versatility, comfort and responsiveness many riders are looking for in a new trail bike today.
Felt Decree Frame & Suspension Design
The Felt Decree is a brand new frame design and there is a lot to talk about here. The Felt Decree 3 is constructed from Felt’s UHC Performance carbon fiber and the full suspension bike comes with a Rock Shox Pike RC Solo Air fork, providing 150 mm of travel. The rear shock is a Rock Shox Monarch RT3 Debonair, offering 140 mm of travel. The frame employs Felt’s FAST design. All of the intricacies of this design are a bit too much for a full explanation here, but the essentials are that there is no pivot at the intersection of the chain stay and the seat stay, as you find on most rear suspension designs. Rather, the movement of the rear suspension, either up or down, creates a compression or extension “spring” force in the rear carbon fiber triangle. This force takes the place of a pivot and helps the rear shock return to its “sag”, or static weighted position. Felt explains it on the Decree minisite as follows:
“At the top of the shock stroke, the stays are in a compressed state which pushes the shock toward the sag point. This reduces the force required to initially compress the shock and softens the initial part of travel. Additionally, since the pedaling performance and large impact support are controlled with the linkage, the shock can be run with minimal compression damping. This frees the shock up to remain active and absorb the smallest of bumps.”
The overall effect of this newly designed rear suspension is to increase pedaling efficiency without sacrificing compliance and reducing weight. In fact, the Decree design is quickly establishing itself as one of the lightest in its category; coming in lighter than a number of dedicated XC bikes with less travel. The ’16 Decree 3 is right around 27 lbs (pretty darn good for a $4500 longer travel bike) and the next notch up ’16 Decree 1 is a svelte 25 lbs. (or so) at $6500.
The Felt Decree frame has a 34cm bottom bracket height for stability over rough surfaces and the front end is long with a slack 66.5 degree headtube angle. This helps increase stability and control in steep descents. A new (and nifty) feature on the Decree is the inserts in the seat stay pivot. These inserts can be rotated, raising the bottom bracket by an additional 10mm, simultaneously steepening the head tube angle by approximately 1 degree. This allows the rider to tailor the bike’s handling to his or her own needs or preferences.
The Felt Decree 3 uses as standard tapered 1 1/8” to 1 ½” headtube for added front end stiffness and control. The bottom bracket is the mountain bike standard 73 mm wide with threaded alloy inserts that fit traditional threaded bottom bracket bearing cups, so your chances of experiencing bottom bracket creak should be negligible. The rear end is 142mm wide and accepts a Syntace style 12 mm thru axle. The derailleur hanger is replaceable, so any derailleur hanger damage is easily fixed and will not jeopardize the frame.
All shifting cables and rear hydraulic brake hose are routed inside the frame, except for a necessary small section under the bottom bracket to allow for the action of the rear suspension.. The KS LEV Integra DX dropper seatpost is cable actuated, and the cabling for that is also routed inside the frame. While the ’16 Felt Decree 3 comes with a 1X drivetrain, there is provision for installing a front derailleur, with internal cable routing, if you want to run a front derailleur. As with all Fit Werx bikes, our Fit Werx Pro Build makes sure that a career based technicians routes and sets-up everything on your new Felt Decree for best performance and as trouble free an experience as possible.
Felt Decree 3 Components
The Shimano equipped 1X drivetrain for the Decree 3 is comprised of Shimano XT 11 speed rear shifter and derailleur, a Race Face Ride crankset, a Shimano XT 11/42 cassette and Shimano HG700 chain. These components work fine, offering typical Shimano shifting accuracy and durability. As mentioned previously, there are provisions for mounting a front derailleur, so you can run a 2X drivetrain if you prefer. The hydraulic front and rear brakes are Shimano Deore M615. While these brakes are not the latest and greatest design from Shimano, they are solid performers that provide similar strength and power to their pricier siblings.
The wheels on the Felt Decree 3 are of Felt’s own design and construction and feature aluminum double wall rims and forged aluminum hubs. The bike comes equipped with Schwalbe Nobby Nic tires that are 2.25″ wide. Schwalbe updated the Nobby Nic in 2015 and the updates make it a very good all-purpose tire that remains fairly light and with relatively low rolling resistance while featuring sidewall construction that resist punctures and a much more durable tread. While the tires came with tubes, the wheels and tires are tubeless ready. The cockpit for the bike is Felt’s own flat handlebars, constructed of 60651 aluminum. The forged stem is also from Felt while the Felt Decree 3 comes with the WTB Volt Race saddle.
As previously mentioned, the Felt Decree 3 also comes with a KS LEV Integra DX cable actuated dropper post. A nice name brand touch and, even better, it is zero setback, which is just what most riders need on this type of frame geometry to keep the front end planted while climbing and to hit their positioning numbers.
Felt Decree Sizing
All Decree models comes in four sizes: SM (16”), MD (18”), LG (20”), XL (22″). While the smallest riders may not find this an adequate range, most everyone else should be well served. If you get your Felt Decree from Fit Werx, you’ll get the benefits of our Rider Matched approach which will first make sure the geometry is well suited to your riding position before you ride and then we’ll build it out to match your needs as well as possible and help you with initial suspension settings.
How Does it Ride?
Well, being December, things are a bit limited to fully test the bike. However, we can tell you that Felt has created a great climber. Because the bike is designed around 30% sag, suspension set-up can take a little more trial than some other designs (we’re happy to assist anyone who buys a bike from us with getting solid initial settings). However, like on the 29” Felt Edict, the proven FAST suspension design and lightweight of the Felt Decree help it to stay hooked up when climbing and stiff under load. With smaller 27.5” wheels compared to the Edict, the ride at lower speeds is not quite as forgiving, but the bike feels maneuverable and quick and the suspension really wakes up and comes into its own as you start to attack the trail a bit more. This is a good combination for many riders who are going to be on moderate to tight trails (like we have plenty of in central VT), but the rider focused on double track and more wide open riding may prefer the additional compliance of a bike like the 29” Felt Edict, Felt Virtue or the Trek Fuel.
If you are considering getting into mountain biking, or if you feel it is time to replace that 15 year old, well used bike you are riding now, the Felt Decree 3 is a very capable trail bike that offers a ton of growth potential for a newer rider while being more than up to the task of being ridden aggressively by an experienced hand.
If you are interested in learning more about the Felt Decree or other bike options that would be best suited to your needs, contact us.