We test the trail focused Felt Decree 1!
Tester: Bradley Babel Photographer: Lachlan Ryan
Felt are out of California and started making bikes back in 1991. They are a small company that pride themselves on making bikes that focus on improving the riders' experience. Although they have a history of making and racing bikes in almost all categories apart from Downhill, I think most people will be most familiar with them from the Triathalon and Ironman events and sponsored athletes. In the mountain bike world their XC athletes are regularly seen racing at World Cups.
The Decree is their trail bike, sporting 27.5 inch wheels and 150mm/140mm travel front and back respectively. The Decree 1 is the second from the top of the line, with the range topping Decree FRD above it, and 2 models below it all with carbon frames, as well as a frame only option. All the frames apart from the range topping FRD use Felts UHC Advance Carbon Fibre. The FRD uses their UHC Ultimate and TeXtreme carbon fibre to shave weight and keep the ride quality and stiffness they are chasing. So if you liked the look of this but the budget won’t stretch to this model, by getting a cheaper model in the Decree range you are not sacrificing anything about the frame and can upgrade parts later as you wear them or can afford if you like.
Tester: Bradley Babel
Riding Experience: Racing since 1989 on everything from XC to DH and Trials.
Generally Rides: Rocky Mountain Element 999 TO, Norco Sight C1, BMC SLR01
Bike Test Track: Gap Creek, Scribbly Gums
Felt call the Decree the ‘Ultimate Trail Bike” which they say has XC like climbing ability, descending prowess and adjustability to match any athlete's ultimate ride. How do they claim to be able to do this? Well the frame is full carbon fibre including the rocker link. They focused on stiffness and handling when designing the frame. he Decree uses Felt's FAST suspension. Felt Active Stay Technology, which basically uses carbon fibre seat stays' flex to eliminate the need for a pivot in the rear triangle either on the seat or chain stays.
This sort of design is quite common in XC and light trail bikes with up to 120mm of travel but not often seen in bikes with longer travel. It allows the manufacturer to reduce the weight of the frame, help to increase stiffness and keep good pedaling efficiency. Felt have designed the stays so that when they are at 0% sag the stays are actually flexed, and then reach neutral or straight at 30% sag. The stays then flex the other way as you continue through the travel. This they say helps to provide a more progressive spring rate but also gives good small bump sensitivity around the sag point and with an increasing amount of support through the travel to resist harsh bottom outs. Felt say it also helps to provide good anti squat numbers too.
The trail bike range these days is HUGE! With many manufacturers doing a great job it’s a matter of how they have specced out the bike, what they have designed it to excel at, and what compromises they’ve made to achieve this. Of course that has to match up to what the rider is looking for, their budget, or the perceived value that the rider gets as a sum result of all of these things. Bikes like the Norco Sight, Evil Calling, Santa Cruz Bronson, Trek Remedy, and the Orbea Occam all offer great trail bikes, although an increasing number of manufacturers are heading towards the bigger 29er hoops in preference over the 27.5” wheel. So it is a very competitive segment of the MTB market.