Owning a superbike is a lot like owning a Ferrari. They’re stunningly pretty, go like hell, and are an absolute nightmare to work on or transport. The Felt IA is not an exception to this rule; integrated bikes are just not easy to make adjustments to or travel with, and the IA is as integrated as it gets. But what happens when you take the superbike… and let it use standard parts? You get the New IA.
The New IA is a direct result of feedback from customers about the reigning king of the superbikes – it features a standard stem so that the bike breaks down easier for travel and isn’t a pain to re-wire. Speaking of re-wires, the new IA has, just under the stem on the head tube, a port for accessing the junction box on Di2 builds. Inside is a clip that works with the junction box’s retention system to hold securely, and when you need to charge it will slide out without hassle. Otherwise, the wiring for the entire bike stays almost completely hidden.
The front brake is a standard mount, so that you can use any brake you like, and make adjustments easier than the fully-integrated version. The rear uses Shimano’s Direct Mount, which gives a wealth of options for a rear brake if the included one isn’t to your liking.
Extra hydration is no longer a “behind the saddle or nothing” decision since there are three bottle bosses on the down tube, and the seat tube has a pair, as well. What’s more, there’s a pair of bosses above the seat stays that allow you to get creative for flat kit storage if your CalPack is full of, well, calories. The immediate thought is a Trek-style draft box, but when asked, Felt responded that they are leaving the implementation up to the third party manufacturers – something which we have our doubts about. This strategy has been tried before by Cervelo, and to date there are no products available that utilize the mount on the top of the bottom bracket in the Cervelo P-Series bikes. But we will maintain a cautious optimism that where others have not, Felt will succeed.
Extra mount points aside, the new IA is an impressive bike. The removal of the Bayonet steerer tube fairing simplifies the bike; but, more importantly, it allows the new head tube to come forward and match the combined depth of the steerer and head tube airfoil from the current bike, resulting in an unbroken, 11:1 airfoil at the front end. There are other minor tweaks here and there to the aerodynamics of the bike, all adding up to a frame that is faster than the current IA… at least in frame-only form. Add in brakes and a cockpit, however, and the balance tilts back towards the current bike, which is to be expected. Again, third party integration will come into play, here, and we expect to hear that, with the right selections, this new IA will be a match for its slightly bigger brother.
It isn’t quite fair to say that the new IA is a lesser bike than the current IA – what they are is different bikes that serve different needs. Where the current IA is a speed-at-all-costs bike; the new IA asks how fast you want to go, and what you’re willing to give up to get there. It brings you 90% of the way from factory. You choose if the pursuit of extra speed is worth a more integrated bar, the latest wind-cheating brake, or whatever else will make you that extra bit faster. The new IA lets you make that decision yourself, all while breaking down easier than ever before and giving up very little in the drag department.
There are three models for the new IA – 10, 14, and 16. The 10 is the top-tier of the range, sporting Ultegra Di2 The New Felt IA – First Lookshifting at $4,999. The IA 14 will set you back a thousand dollars less, $3,999, but comes equipped with 11-speed Ultegra mechanical. Last, but certainly not least, comes the IA 16 at just $2,999 and brings 105 11-speed to the table, coupling an enormous amount of value to the entry-level price point. Given the price point of the complete bikes, and the lack of a frameset option, the new IA is very clearly aimed at those who will keep a bike for a while – and for those people, a bike that travels easily and upgrades even easier is a huge win. We expect to see a lot of these in transition racks next year, and a lot of ingenuity on display with just how riders choose to configure these bikes. We’re looking forward to it.