Compare-O Bottom Line: The Felt Virtue Nine 20 proves you don’t need to spend a mint to have a good time

29er Enduro Enduro Compare-O 2014
Lip swallower

When it came to catching air, the Virtue soaked up both our attempts to preload, as well as the lips of most jumps, making it difficult to get any kind of pop. The Felt is clearly more at home with its feet firmly planted on the ground, with one test rider commenting it “exhibits a less-than-playful attitude in the air.”

The Virtue’s 140mm-travel RockShox Sektor played a role in this affect—like the rear shock, it was difficult to get dialed in. It also came with a handlebar-remote lockout that most riders ended up using more than anticipated. Generally we ended up running the shock slightly soft to get some plushness, then used the lockout to firm up the front end and keep it from diving, which it was prone to do even on mid-size hits.

Though by using the remote, you could create a workable fork, it often felt like a kludgy work-around. What’s more, the remote button is easily confused for that of a RockShox Reverb and we found ourselves hitting it when we wanted to lower the saddle—a duty handled by a KS LEV whose remote lever is on the other handgrip.

Photo by Tyler Frasca.

A great parts spec for the price

At $3,800, the Felt Virtue Nine 20 is the second most affordable bike in our test. To get a full complement of Shimano XT componentry along with one of our favorite dropper posts—the aforementioned KS LEV—for that price is simply amazing. The 2×10 drivetrain is appropriate for both the price point and weight of the bike, and, along with the XT hub/DT Swiss wheelset mean the Virtue Nine 20 should provide years of dependable service. It also comes shod in a nice, big set of tires— Continental X-King SL 2.4-inchers.

Geometry and Fools Gold

Virtue Nine 20’s geometry skews toward the cross country side of the spectrum rather than all-mountain. The 69 degree head angle and 74.5 degree seat tube angle are middle-of-the-road trail bike numbers and, in conjunction with the 17.7-inch chainstays give the bike a fairly maneuverable, planted-on-the-ground character.

While the Virtue has some stylishly hydroformed tube shapes throughout, it’s striking “Fools Gold” metallic finish makes the bike virtually glow—particularly amongst the stealthy black consensus of the rest of the Enduro Compare-O bike field.

Who is this bike for?

For the advanced beginner to intermediate trail rider, the Felt Virtue Nine 20 is certainly worthy of consideration. While it’s not likely to win any races, this tough, good rolling bike balances climbing, descending and spending rather well. A good first full-suspension 29er for the rider on a budget, the Felt Virtue Nine 20 is a solid choice.

Bottom Line

Though the Felt Virtue Nine 20 requires careful suspension setup and some mental coordination to get your head around its control setup, the bike is smartly spec’d with a Shimano 2x XT drivetrain and brakes, a quality wheelset and KS Lev dropper post. Its unique Equilink system does a good job of isolating drive forces from braking and suspension input, delivering surprising climbing ability. It can handle wide open, roll-straight-through style descents but can get in over its head on super techy trails with big rock gardens, drops and jumps.

YouTube Preview ImageVideo: Felt’s promo video featuring Virtue Nine series – a quick overview of both the carbon and aluminum versions.  Video courtesy of Felt Bicycles.

Pros
  • Good climber, efficient power transfer
  • Great spec level for the price
  • KS Lev dropper post is a bonus
  • Awesome paint
Cons
  • Complex handlebar controls
  • Difficult to dial-in suspension
  • High-riding stilty feel
  • Weighty
Price and other versions

Virtue Nine 20 (as tested): $3799
Virtue Nine 50: $2799
Virtue Nine 60: $2199
Virtue Nine 1 (carbon): $6199
Virtue Nine 3 (carbon): $4149
Virtue Nine 1 frame only: $3499

2014 Felt Virtue Nine 20 Key Specs
  • MSRP: $3799
  • Weight: 30.73 lbs.(size medium)
  • Wheel size: 29 inches
  • Sizes: SM (16″), MD (18″), LG (20″), XL (22″)
  • Color: Fools Gold
  • Frame Material: Hydroformed double-butted 6061 aluminum
  • Fork: RockShox Revelation RL, 140mm
  • Rear Travel: 130mm
  • Rear Shock: RockShox Monarch RT shock
  • Headset: FSA
  • Handlebar: Felt riser bar carbon, 8mm rise w/ 9° sweep, 720mm wide
  • Stem: Felt MTB 3D-forged, SM – 70mm LG/MD – 80mm XL – 90mm
  • Grips: Felt Wing Grip, Lock-On
  • Seatpost: KS LEV dropper post 30.9
  • Brakes: Shimano Deore Hydraulic Disc, 180mm front,  160mm rear
  • Brake Levers: Shimano Deore
  • Shifters: Shimano XT
  • Front Derailleur: Shimano Deore 2x 10 speed front derailleur
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT Shadow Plus
  • Cassette: Shimano 10-speed 11-36T
  • Crankset: Shimano XT Hollowtech II 38/24T
  • Rims: DT Swiss 533D
  • Hubs: Shimano XT center lock hubs 15mm front/142×12 rear
  • Spokes: DT Swiss 1.8
  • Tires: Continental X-King SL Performance folding, 29 x 2.4
  • Chainguide: no
  • Head Tube Angle: 69 degrees
  • Seat Tube Angle: 74.5 degrees
  • Chainstay Length: 450mm
  • Bottom Bracket Drop: 36mm

For more information visit www.feltbicycles.com.

This story is part of Mtbr’s 2014 Enduro Compare-O. Check out our intro story here for all the ground rules and goings ons.

Compare-O Bottom Line: The Felt Virtue Nine 20 proves you don’t need to spend a mint to have a good time Gallery
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Bottom Line

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Spec Photo

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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Pinned

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Equilink

Felt’s Equilink suspension system is unique and effective.
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Down Corner

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Climb

Photo by Tyler Frasca.
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Felt Virtue Nine 20 Thumb

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato has been the Site Manager of Mtbr.com for over 14 years and enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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  • Ryan B says:

    “While it’s not likely to win any races…” HA! Let’s not kid ourselves here, fast riders who train hard win races, not $10,000 bikes. On one hand this is a solid review on a website largely dedicated to evaluating products (which I appreciate AND enjoy!). On the other hand I think many readers would see value in more articles on topics like bike tuning/setup/maintenance, handling skills, diet (gasp) and race training/strategy. Just my 2 cents…

  • Liberty555 says:

    Ryan B, I’m with you. Spot on. Love the reviews, love to dream but in reality, tomorrow I’ll be having a laugh and enjoying life on a bike half as much as this one and one fifth the Sworks Enduro….

  • AJ says:

    With an MSRP of $3,799.00 I’d argue this falls into ‘mint’ territory.

  • Drew olmsted says:

    I agree with Ryan b. I’m new to mountain biking and want to do all the work on my bike. Would like to see more repair articles.

  • joey says:

    when I read ‘don’t need to spend a mint’ I was expecting a 380 dollar bike…

    this is ridiculous.

  • matt says:

    If my “midlife crisis” bike, decision arrived at after a lifetime and finally deciding I deserve something nice, is about $2000, then yeah, $3799 is a “mint.”

  • chris says:

    Umm, $3800 hardly qualifies as “for the rider on a budget.” Time for the reviewers to come back down from the $10k+ bike cloud and join the rest of us mere mortals.

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