In 2011 Felt brought its new flag ship TT machine to the market. The DA had all the prerequisites of a super bike; aero foil based design, hidden brakes, and an integrated front end. We here at AeroGeeks are such big fans of this frame that Devon owns a DA4 (review here) and I attempted to buy one as well (unfortunately Devon got the last size 58 in the U.S.). Now, two years later, we see the first major update to the DA line—the unveiling of a new aerobar that is much more configurable than the original Devox bar. I stopped by Alex’s Bicycle Pro Shop in Coral Springs, FL, where they had the 2013 DA3 on the bench being built up and managed to get a first look at the new bike. As luck would have it, they also had a 2012 DA3 still in stock so I could make some comparisons.
For 2013 Felt went with a naked carbon paint scheme that just looks amazing. Personally I am a huge fan of seeing carbon in its natural state (as is Devon) and Felt’s take on this concept is beautiful. Whereas the 2012 model hid the carbon under a loud red\black scheme, the 2013 is much more sedate, and, to my eyes, a much more striking design.
The New Bars
My biggest problem with the ’12 bike was the lack of adjustability in the Devox bars. Unfortunately, the only adjustability of the aerobar is the length of the extensions. Felt provided an adjustable crown that can be moved 90 degrees to help increase the range of adjustment. However, moving the bars up or down vertically or changing the width is impossible. This basically forced the rider to adapt to the bike instead of adapting the bike to fit the rider.
With the 2013 model Felt has introduced its new Felt Bayonet 3 Integrated aerobar. The bar now allows modification at all 3 axes of adjustability and I find this to be a huge step up for the usability of this bicycle. Where prior to this model entry level AG’s may have found it difficult to get the perfect fit on the bike, this new setup allows any non pro to find a comfortable fit without having to resort to an less than optimal aero position.
Both the 2012 and 2013 have SRAM Red, but with the 2013 you get, naturally, 2013 Red. By this time you should be well acquainted with the goodness that is 2013 Red and the advantages it has over 2012. If not this review should bring you up to speed.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the groupset we see the first example of the dreaded de-contenting of the DA line. In the case of the DA3, the shifters themselves. In 2012, the DA3 came with Zipp R2C shifters (If you haven’t had the opportunity to use R2C versus standard TT shifters I highly recommend taking the time to do so before purchasing your next bike). For 2013, Felt went with SRAM’s carbon non-R2C TT shifters (SRAM does make an R2C version – this is not it). The price difference for the shifters is around $175, so one can see the cost savings for a large production bike. However, for the extra dollars that Felt could have chosen to spend and bundle them with the bike, and I believe this is a sorry omission.
Felt has also decided to go to a less TT specific crankset with the 2013 model (though still carbon)—the S950 BB30. I don’t believe this was a huge change but I appreciated the TT specific rings of the 2012.
The last component to mention is the front brakes on the DA. While not specific to the DA3, we have a great deal of experience with the brakes on Devon’s DA4. And that experience says that upon purchasing this frame, we here at AeroGeeks heavily recommend skipping on the brakes that come with the frame and instead investing in the TriRig Omega (here). The problem with Felt’s Integrated Aero brakes is they just don’t stop as well as one would like. Since this will likely be most people’s primary bike and not a dedicated TT or Tri machine, owners will inevitably find themselves in situations where braking is key. That being said, upgrading to a strong (and additionally aerodynamic brake) is a worthy upgrade.
We here at AeroGeeks love this frame (so much so that one of us rides it, and the other tried to! – Devon). We’re pretty big fans of SRAM Red, as well, so we love the combination of the two. However, we hate to see decontenting on “affordable superbikes”, especially when we see a raise in price ($4,999 -> $5,169). But with Felt’s next generation aerobar now standard on this bike, it is not really fair to call this decontenting, but more decision for one set of components above another. We at AeroGeeks recommend that anyone looking to buy this bike should plan on budgeting for the replacement of both the shifters and front brake. Lastly, when comparing this bike to the other affordable superbikes out there (Shiv, Slice RS, Speed Concept, Illicito, Trinity Advanced, etc.) there are few bikes that offer this level of frame ability, adjustability, and component set for this money. Other bikes in this trim level cost thousands more for equal or lesser components, and regardless of the need to upgrade a few components, we believe the 2013 DA3 to be a great value and worth a hard look for anyone with the itch to upgrade.