I would like to introduce you to the newest member of my family, a 2013 Felt F65X Cyclocross Bike (I haven’t even named her yet). Cyclocross bikes look a lot like regular road bikes, but allow for fatter tires so they can have better grip on the ground—they also have greater clearance on the forks so mud won’t build up as quickly. Cyclocross races usually take place in the fall and winter over a course that includes pavement, off-road trails, hills, man-made obstacles and mud. This particular from of racing has been around for over 100 years and is usually associated with countries like Belgium, the Netherlands and France, but is growing in popularity here in the states.
The 2013 Felt F65X Cyclocross Bike has an aluminum frame with a carbon fiber front fork. The drivetrain has SRAM Apex DoubleTap shifters, a compact 46/36T crankset and an 11-28T cassette with a SRAM 10-speed chain. This bike also has Felt CXR disc rims with stainless steel spokes. To protect you in foul weather, this bike has Felt All-Weather sealed slick brake and derailleur housings.
Traditionally, cyclocross bikes have used center-pull cantilever brakes which give a lot of brake pad-to-rim clearance that reduces drag when you are riding through the muck. However, disc brakes are becoming more common on cyclocross bikes, and the Felt F65X uses Avid BB5 disc brakes with SRAM Apex levers. One other note: the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) used to ban disc brakes in cyclocross races, but that ban has now been lifted.
Even though this bike weighs 21 pounds it feels very light and handles like a dream on both pavement and off-road trails. You don’t have to be a cyclocross racer to enjoy this bike—in fact, a lot of the purchasers are commuters who have to travel over both pavement and off-road trails just to get to work.
There were three things about this bike I did not like—the Felt SL Saddle, the Felt Gel Velvet Tape, and the stock Vittoria Cross XG Pro 700c x 32c tires. The stock saddle was lightweight, but it felt like I was sitting on a brick, so I replaced it with a Planet Bike ARS Standard Anatomic Relief Saddle (I have this same saddle on all of my bikes). The handlebar tape was not very comfortable so I asked the guys at the shop to re-wrap the bars with Lizard Skins DSP Bar Tape (my favorite bar tape). The Vittoria Cross XG Pro tires were probably OK, but since I live in an area with a lot of broken glass on both the streets and trails I replaced the stock tires with Bontrager LT2 700C tires (hard-case tires with triple flat protection).
Until a few days ago the 2013 Felt F65X Cyclocross Bike retailed for $1859. However, since the 2014 models will be hitting the showroom soon, I was able to pick up this bike for only $1399.
I purchased my 2013 Felt F65X Cyclocross Bike from Zion Cyclery in Zion, Illinois. In fact, I’ve bought my last seven bikes from them—I don’t even bother shopping around for a better price anymore. If you live in the Upper Midwest you really need to check these folks out. They keep anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 bikes in their store (depending on the time of the year) and they have six full-time mechanics who work all-year long (that is very rare in our part of the country). Thanks to their reputation for building high quality Fat Bikes the mechanics now have a lot more work to do in the winter than they used to!
Important Update Notice (9/6/13): This bike comes stock with an Ashima 6 Bolt 160mm Air Rotor (disc brake rotor). This rotor is great at shedding mud, but I was having trouble with the whole front end of my bike shaking every time I applied the front brake—it was fine on smooth roads at low speeds, but this is a cyclocross bike and I love to go fast when I play in the mud. The problem is apparently common when you have a disc brake on a carbon fiber fork. The guys at the local bike shop suggested that I replace the Ashima Air Rotor with a beefier Avid G3 CS Clean Sweep Disc Rotor—this rotor has more metal and does not shed mud as well, but it stopped the problem I had with the front end shaking.