sag set to 40 percent, the suspension travel becomes much more
usable and still retains the controlled and efficient feel. This
bike needs to be set up on the soft side or you’ll never make it
to the bottom of the stroke.
Pedaling: This is the Virtue’s strong suit. Right out of the
gate, we noticed that the Equilink suspension’s controlled feel
made the bike a great pedaler, even with our 40-percent-sag
setup. The shock is equipped with a lockout, but we never
needed it. The suspension delivers a platform that’s plenty firm,
even when wide open.
Climbing: The suspension on the Virtue is ridiculously effi-
cient, and the relatively steep seat angle puts the rider in a
strong position over the cranks to put the power down. The
design seems to favor the rider who sits in on a long climb,
This bike has the right chassis to be a great climber,
but needs to shed some weight to really rocket up the
hills. Anyone considering the Virtue Elite as
a race bike should plan for some
upgrades before heading to the start-
Cornering: The conventional
geometry of the Virtue makes it
feel confident in any corner. The
head angle is slack enough for
high-speed, chattery trails and
can still navigate a tight switch-
back. The bottom bracket seems
high on the geometry chart, but it
delivers a centered and balanced feel
on the trail that won’t snag rocks,
even when pedaling through corners.
Braking: The Equilink suspension does a
great job isolating braking input. Whether over high-speed chat-
ter bumps, controlling speed into a corner or panic-braking on a
technical section, the suspension remains open and relatively
plush. The Elixir 3 brakes provide adequate power, but lack the
positive and snappy feel of a more expensive brake.
Descending: With the suspension set up properly, the rest of
the Virtue’s traits shine and will make most any trail rider
happy. The geometry is spot-on, offering plenty of stability at
speed and confidence when the trail points down a steep chute.
The Virtue’s rear end has a slightly longer feel than most
bikes with this amount of travel. This gives it stability on high-speed descents, but makes it difficult to lift the front end to
manual or bunnyhop over obstacles.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
On the surface, the Virtue Elite isn’t going to win any value
contests. The X7 and X9 drivetrain and Elixir 3 brakes are a
weak spec for a bike with a $4000 price tag. However, dive a little deeper and you’ll understand that Felt put emphasis on the
full-carbon frame and quality suspension spec first and worried
about the details later.
The super-long stem is an awkward match for this bike and
will likely be the first thing most riders want to change. The
narrow bar will work well for smaller riders, but it will need to
be swapped for a wider one, in the larger sizes.
Full-Tilt Carbon On A Budget
Felt redesigned their Virtue lineup to offer all-new carbon and aluminum versions. Think of this as the classic trailbike.
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
With 5.1 inches of travel, the Virtue is a mid-travel trailbike with very tight and nimble geometry. The design caters
to the cross-country rider or racer who wants a bit more
travel. If you’re thinking that this much travel means the
Virtue is a scaled-down gravity bike, think again.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The carbon frame uses Felt’s Inside-Out technology, which
decreases the amount of carbon left over inside the tubes
after the molding process to reduce weight. They also use
their Dynamic Monocoque Construction, which allows them
to mold sections of the frameset with a specific purpose in
mind and then co-mold those sections together. The Equilink
suspension is a modified multi-pivot design and rides on a
combination of cartridge bearings and bushings. The Virtue
also uses a tapered head tube, 10x135-millimeter rear axle,
and internal cable routing in the front triangle.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The Rockshox Sektor Solo air fork and Ario rear shock
work perfectly with the suspension design of the Virtue.
While not the most complex or adjustable suspension, it will
keep all but the most finicky tinkerers happy. Tweaks to the
suspension setup are quick and easy to make.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
Setup: The Virtue’s suspension has a very firm feel
throughout the stroke. While this makes the bike feel efficient, our initial setups with 20- to 30-percent sag proved too
harsh for technical trails and high-speed sections. With the
The Felt Virtue Elite