First Look Felt Decree

Light weight and adjustable geometry 140mm trail bike

27.5 All Mountain Trail
A 140mm 27.5 carbon trail bike with adjustable geometry.

The new Decree is a 140mm 27.5 carbon trail bike with adjustable geometry (click to enlarge).

Recently Mtbr was in Torbole, Italy, on the shore of Lago di Garda for the launch of Felt’s latest mountain bike, the Decree – a 140mm 27.5 carbon trail bike with adjustable geometry that weighs in at just a hair over 24 pounds (FRD model, US spec, size medium). An international launch at a glamorous location like Garda is a new move for the Southern California company. But if you’ve got a brand new trail bike you feel really good about, you couldn’t pick a better spot to show it off.

Lago di Garda is a huge lake located at the southern foot of the Italian Alps. It’s one of the most popular mountain bike destinations in Europe because of its dramatic beauty and steep, technical trails. In fact, Garda is one of the most challenging places I’ve ever ridden. The operative word for Garda mountain biking is “loose.” The trails are covered in fist to baby head-sized rocks interspersed with big steppy chunks of limestone that feel like someone rubbed soap all over them. You do your best to pick a line but ultimately the trail makes the decision for you. Honestly, most of the riding at Garda is pretty scary.

The author, Photo-John, getting a good taste of Garda rocks, on the new Felt Decree. Photo courtesy of Johan Hjord

Photo-John getting a good taste of Garda rocks on the new Felt Decree (click to enlarge). Photo courtesy of Johan Hjord

For more on the new Felt Decree, check out our First Look here.

Obviously, Felt has a lot of confidence in the Decree, a bike they described in their launch packet as “the ultimate trail bike.” Doing the launch in Garda, on terrain that seems more appropriate for a freeride bike, was a bold move. However, mountain bikes have evolved considerably and current 6-inch bikes are fully capable of handling terrain that used to be the exclusive domain of dedicated downhill sleds. Versatility is the name of the game now. Improved design and materials mean bikes can be both excellent climbers and great descenders. It’s clear that was Felt’s goal with the Decree was to be a great all-rounder that performs at a high level regardless of the terrain.

I think they hit it out of the park.

The “Flip Chips,” located on the inside of the Decree’s seat stay links, allow riders to switch the bike’s geometry between “low and slack” and “steep and high.” All that’s needed to make the switch is a hex wrench. However, Felt recommends doing it with the bike on a stand because a bit of pressure is required to flex the seat stays to remove and install the shock bolt.

The “Flip Chips,” located on the inside of the Decree’s seat stay links, allow riders to switch the bike’s geometry between “low and slack” and “steep and high.” All that’s needed to make the switch is a hex wrench. However, Felt recommends doing it with the bike on a stand because a bit of pressure is required to flex the seat stays to remove and install the shock bolt (click to enlarge).

Geometry

A great bike starts with great geometry and I immediately felt at home on the Decree. The words I kept hearing from other journalists and the Felt product team were, “balanced” and “neutral.” I would describe the bike as, “composed.” I’m 5’8” tall and with a 50mm stem the cockpit on the medium bike I rode was perfect. The bike can be set up low and slack or steep and high via “Flip Chips” in the seat stays. The low and slack position, which is all I rode, has a 67° head angle (see correction, below), a bb drop of 12mm and a 73.2° seat tube angle. Flipping the chip steepens the angles by one degree and raises the bb height by 10mm. Personally, I would have been happy with a slightly slacker bike – especially since the geometry is adjustable. But there’s a reason the 67° head angle is standard issue on 140 and 150mm trail bikes – it works great. Even though a slacker head angle (maybe 66.5°) would have been nice on some of the steeper stuff I rode, I never felt like the head angle was too steep or twitchy. Even on fast road descents the Decree was felt stable and confident.

Correction: It turns out there was some confusion with the Decree’s head angle and it’s actually 66.5°, not 67° like I original wrote. This is embarrassing for me, although it does explain why the bike felt so mysteriously good to me, in spite of what appeared to be middle-of-the-road geometry. The reason for the mistake is Felt originally intended the bike to be spec’d with a 140mm fork. But when they tried it with a 150mm fork, they liked it so much they decided to stick with the longer fork and slacker angles. I think they did the right thing. The slacker head angle is a big part of what makes the Decree a standout in a sea of fairly vanilla 140mm trail bikes.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Felt Decree First Ride Review »
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About the author: John Shafer

John Shafer, a.k.a. Photo-John, is a respected photography expert and adventure photographer. He’s been an Mtbr forum member and contributor since 1999 and you can find his writing and photography across the Web, in mountain bike magazines and on his own Web site, Photo-John.net. John loves big mountains, rocky singletrack, low-visibility powder days, 6-inch trail bikes, coffee and tacos. Look for him pushing his bike uphill, carrying an inappropriate amount of camera gear in an overloaded backpack.


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  • Gregg Kato says:

    Thanks for the great write-up Photo-John! And the killer pix. One question: the flip chip adjustment…is that something one can do trail side with just an Allen wrench? Does it require removing the air from the shock?

    • John Shafer says:

      Good question, Gregg. Felt didn’t intend the Flip Chips to be used for quick trailside geometry changes and it’s best to do it at home, in your garage or shop. They’re really intended to set up the bike for your particular riding style or for a specific trail or trip. That said, I’ve been told you could make the change on the trail, if you wanted. An Allen wrench is all that’s required and you don’t need to dump air from the shock. However, the seat stays are installed in a flexed position so it may take a bit of finessing to get the bolts in and out since they are under a bit of pressure.

  • wiseone says:

    Flex stays make for difficult to impossible shock tuning as they impart their own spring forces (negative turning positive). Not to mention they will fatigue prematurely (about when your warranty is up).

    That kinked seat tube pretty much mandates a dropper as you can’t sink a traditional post very far. Also means you won’t be able to use one of the forthcoming longer droppers.

  • vincent says:

    Thanks for the great review! I’m wondering how the feel of this bike compares to something like a Yeti sb-5c, Ibis HD3, etc? Did you need to put the shock into trail mode to get good pedaling support? Would you describe it as ‘playful’ or ‘planted’? I work for a felt dealer, and have always been very impressed with their carbon fiber tech- they build some of the lightest and stiffest frames on the market. The geometry of this bike looks to be very balanced and progressive as you mentioned. So my big question on this bike is, how does this suspension design stack up against some of the dual link floating pivot designs? thanks!

  • Matt says:

    So the top of the line European model comes with Enve wheels (north american made) and the top of the line North American model comes with DT Swiss Wheels (European made)….

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