Words and photos: Tim Bardsley-Smith

Felt Bicycles is an American brand, that has seen some popularity in Australia in years gone by, particularly with triathlon for their TT bikes as well as some World Tour success with the Garmin-Slipstream team and then Argos-Shimano. More recently they are supporting the North American team Ralley Cycling as well as the US National Track Cycling team. Whilst Felt have been most visible in the road, tri and track segments they have been producing mountain bikes since the 90s. In Australia the availability and therefore popularity of Felt Bicycles has come and gone over the years. So, it’s nice to see them back particularly within the ever growing eMTB market with their 150mm travel offering the Felt Redemption. Now I’m unsure of the meaning behind the name and it’s more than likely just some guy in marketing best option that wasn’t already taken, but it does make me smirk.

 

Initial Impressions

The initial impression of the Felt Redemption was that it would fit squarely in what most riders look for an eMTB were after. With 150mm travel front and back on 27.5 wheels and with a Shimano STEPS system, it ticks a lot of boxes. The eMTB market has been evolving, with a few new bikes released that are pushing limits of both what is possible and how much your wallet can take. What the Redemption has is clean looks and styling, with a simple integrated Shimano E8020 500Wh battery to match the very popular Shimano E8000 motor system. It did surprisingly lack a water bottle mount, but that is not always a large issue for some. It certainly reminded me a lot of the BMC TrailFox AMP that I tested last year in issue #175. This review can now be found online. The Felt Redemption has the same battery and motor and a similar look. The Felt also shares a vast amount of  similarities with the many four bar linkage design eMTBs available to date. The Felt Redemption has a solid build with new 4-pot Shimano MT520 brakes, eMTB specific RockShox Yari RC 150mm fork and Deluxe RT 150mm travel rear shock. The wheels have 35mm WTB 27.5” rims and 2.8” Maxxis tyres. Felt's own Devox branded stem and eMTB specific bars and grips felt great and seemed to be on the money. The neat internal routing through the bars for the electric shifter was a very tidy addition. The bombproof Shimano SLX/XT group set is 11-speed and 12-speed, and Shimano Deore hubs make it easily maintainable. The 100mm KS Lev dropper seemed an odd choice though, as a little more length in a dropper is great.

 

Whilst it’s certainly not a unique bike, there are a lot of reasons so many other brands choose a Shimano motor and a 4 bar design, it’s the go to for affordability, performance and value. So needless to say expectations were high.