Design Methodology

When Felt introduces a new bicycle, its debut comes at the end of a long and rigorous development process. From initial concept to finished product, the process can take years to complete.

 
 
 The frst step is a lot of dialog. Between Felt-sponsored teams and athletes, engineers and product designers, there is never a shortage
of ideas (and opinions). It’s a roundtable process guided by a certain set of objectives. Before the engineering begins, the precise goals
must be clarifed. Once they are, the real work begins.

  Felt engineers design every frame and fork from the ground up using sophisticated CAD software that allows them to specify every
dimension of every tube, as well as the shape of each. Components such as derailleurs, wheels and brakes can be ftted to 3-D models to
check ft and function before a single physical sample is created.

  The engineers determine the handling geometry as well as the dimensions for each size frame, and this is where a bicycle’s character
begins to take shape. Aerodynamics and stiffness can be manipulated through tube shape and wall thickness. For full-suspension designs,
this is the point at which the linkage is designed and wheel path is determined. This is the phase in which some of Felt’s most iconic designs,
including Equilink suspension and the Bayonet 3 Steering System, have been conceived.
 
  In designs where aerodynamics play a factor, the 3-D solid model is analyzed through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software. Tube profles can be reshaped and refned dozens of times before any sort of prototype is made. By the time the bike enters the prototype
phase, the design has been through hundreds of hours of analysis. Wind-tunnel testing then presents the opportunity to refne the design
a bit further. Small tweaks are made to fnalize things before the manufacturing molds are created.
  The fnal phase of our development occurs when a frst mold is developed and prototype frames are made. With carbon fber frames, we
experiment with different lay-up confgurations and different blends of material. We then perform static load and stiffness tests in the lab
to gauge the strength-to-weight and stiffness of the samples; our own internal strength standards are higher than even the most stringent
U.S. and European government regulations require. Felt inspects the prototype models closely for manufacturing tolerances, surface fnish
and alignment among other details. Finally, the prototypes are ridden to make sure they deliver the right ride quality.

  Different Felt bikes have varying design cycles. Full-suspension and aerodynamic models spend a great deal of time in development
before a frst prototype is made. Carbon fber road bikes and hardtails, on the other hand, will go to prototyping much sooner but stay in
that phase much longer. Getting the blend of materials just right—in order to fnd that lively feel while maintaining strength, stiffness and
low weight—can require many prototypes.

  The stamp of approval comes from Felt teams and athletes. If the bike is up to the standards of the very best in the world, it’s time to
bring it to market.

  By taking a fexible development approach based on the particular needs of each bicycle, rather than applying the same approach to
all of them, Felt is able to focus its efforts on the most critical elements of each model. There are other ways to develop a bicycle—methods
that are faster, cheaper and less expensive. But that’s not the Felt way. Our method takes longer but it produces a better bicycle.