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Summary: The Felt IA immediately became a category leading triathlon bike when it was released in 2014. The 2018 version of the Felt IA2 with SRAM RED eTap and Quarq Prime crank is a race ready super bike that has improved upon it's predecessor in subtle but significant ways. A variety of intelligent features and specs make this a great triathlon bike for the committed triathlete.
The Fit: Felt has made an impressively adjustable tri bike with the IA. The proprietary carbon fiber Felt Dagger basebar and aerobar are the key to the IA's range of fit. Basebar spacers allow up to 5cm of upward mobility, all the while keeping the cables internal and clean. Additionally, the aerobars come with a variety of spacers to pedestal both the armrest and extensions up to 4cm.
The bike's seat tube angle varies from 79.5 degrees in the 48cm size to 77.5 degrees in the 58cm. This is relatively steep, which is exactly what we'd expect from a triathlon specific platform like the IA.
In general, we have found the IA to fit a bit short in length, often requiring an athlete to size up in frame sizes. The reach of the bike is 7mm shorter than the iconic Cervelo P2, and though the basebar is adjustable in height by 5cm, that is still less vertical adjustment than you would have with a traditional stem. Both of these factors combined may result in an athlete sizing up. We recommend starting any IA discussions with a sizing fit, something we do for free if you're considering a bike.
The Frameset: The 2018 IA2 has a deep blue with magenta highlights color theme. We hope our pictures do it justice- it looks amazing in person!
Aerodynamics and integration is the theme throughout the IA. The deep carbon fiber fork, frame tubes, and seatpost are defining features. Felt spent their time in the wind tunnel refining the shape of this bike, and it shows. Not concerned with creating a UCI legal bike, Felt designed the IA to be one the fastest triathlon specific bikes ever made. The result is a frameset that flies at speed. Smaller riders may feel pushed around on this bike on windy days. But this has not stopped riders like Mirinda Carfrae from winning Kona multiple times on this bike in one of the windiest races in the world.
The seatpost is an ingenious system using an internal wedge to compress the post against the sides of the frame. We have never had an IA seatpost slip on us, nor crack. Felt partnered with 3T and uses their 'Diffloc' saddle clamp system to hold the saddle in place. The Diffloc system takes patience when dialing in your saddle tilt, but once setup will never slip. Tip: when bolting down your saddle be sure to even tighten the left and right Diffloc bolts.
Felt accomplishes complete integration through a variety of proprietary features. The cockpit as explained above is clean and highly adjustable. The fully integrated roller-cam brakes are clean and stop well. We're not going to lie to you and say they're easy to setup, but once installed you won't have issues with them. First generation of IA's had brake problems, but those issues are now resolved and no longer a concern. The front and rear brakes tuck behind carbon fiber fairings, shielding them from the wind. The fairings are simple to install and keeps the bike looking clean.
Integration continues with the bento box installed behind the stem. Felt calls their proprietary bento box the Calpac 2.0. The Calpac mounts directly to the frame and provides easy access to your nutrition. One of the benefits of this integrated bento box comes when having to re-cable the rear brake line (or derailleur/Di2 cables if configured that way). By removing the Calpac your mechanic is left with a large opening in the top tube to fish cables through. Sounds silly- but any mechanic will be grateful for the ease of installation!
New for 2018 is the BTSpac storage box. BTS stands for "Behind the Saddle", and that's pretty much exactly where you find it. The BTSpac can hold all the repair items you'll need to fix a flat on the road. The system works well, mounts easily, and does not open on its own. The Felt IA 10, 14, and 16 have always had mount holes for a system like the BTSpac in the past. It's only in 2018 that this feature has found its way onto the IA 1 and 2.
The Components: This wouldn't be a super bike if it didn't come with great components, and Felt does not disappoint. SRAM RED eTap is the perfect spec for this bike- it works well and is easy to setup and adjust. Every time you have to break your bike down to travel to a race you will be grateful for eTap. The IA2 comes with the eTap Clic bar end shifters, which are more ergonomic in the aero position than the traditional Blips. A second set of shifter buttons (called Blips) rest under the bar tape near your brake levers.
SRAM continues to cover component duties with their Quarq Prime carbon fiber crank. Need power? Simply purchase the power meter specific spider from Quarq, install, and you have a power meter crank for about half the price of purchasing it new. Don't need a crank-based power meter? You'll still have a very nice carbon crank that holds up next to any other crank on the market.
Zipp Course 30 tubeless ready rims are paired with Felt Devox hubs. These are not race-specific wheels, but are durable and practical. The rims are 25mm wide, which should match up nicely to most race wheels on the market. Keeping your training and racing wheels the same width helps to minimize brake adjustments.
Felt spec'd an ISM PS 1.0 saddle- another great choice that will work for many triathletes. The saddle's long rails give the rider a wide range of fore-aft adjustability. This is an important feature on a bike like the IA which does not have a built-in feature to change the seat tube angle.
Areas of Concern and Improvement: Fully integrated triathlon bikes like the IA2 are more complicated by the integration of the entire system. Wheel changes take longer, stack height adjustments to the aerobars take more time, a simple brake pad exchange may become a 1 hour project. This is currently the case with almost all super bikes, and is the price you pay for a clean and sexy machine. Component groups like SRAM RED eTap go a long way in addressing this issue. This is not so much an area of concern as it is a statement of fact.
Getting into the details: the aerobars lack any tilt adjustment. This is not a deal breaker for most athletes, but if you currently ride with your aerobars facing the sky you may miss this feature. We've installed 'ski-bend' style aerobars on this bike in the past to help raise their hand position.
The IA 1 and 2 have mounts for only one bottle on the frame. We would like water bottle mounts on the seat tube and down tube in future models.