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2016 Felt Z4 Disc review

Posted June 26, 2016 06:52PM by Skye in the Cycling Forum

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 4 years ago   Posts: 527

I got a hot tip last week that La Bicicletta, a local pro shop and purveyor of fine bicycles and clothing, was doing a demo day of the latest Felt road bikes at their regular summer Tuesday night laps of Stanley Park here in Vancouver. I've had my eye on the Felt model lineup for some time now, and I jumped at the chance to try a Felt Z endurance frame. I was really curious to see how it would stack up to the 12 year old Trek 5200 I built up last year.

Besides being stoked about Felt bikes, I really wanted to try a 54 cm frame. My Trek is 56 cm as was recommended by lots of online bike fit calculators, but even with a 100 mm stem I feel pretty stretched out. When I recently rented a road bike in Taiwan, I was forced to ride some pretty small frames, and I discovered that they weren't as cramped as I expected. I have a slightly shorter than normal inseam for my height, so that may be a factor.

As luck would have it, La Bicicletta had a 2016 Felt Z4 Disc in 54 cm available, and they let me borrow it for 4 days! Great way to start summer. As a bonus, I get to try out road disc brakes for the first time. Here's how it came equipped:

2016 Felt Z4 Disc Specs

SRAM Rival 22 with hydraulic disc brakes
Compact crank and 11 speed 11-32t cassette
UHC Performance carbon fiber frame and fork
BB30 & carbon dropouts
Prologo Scratch 2 T2.0 saddle
Fulcrum Racing Sport DB wheels
Vittoria Rubino Pro 700x25c tires

So what does it weigh in the real world, fresh from the bike shop and ready to ride? Time to get out my scales:

Front 4280 g + Rear 4630 g = Total 8.91 kg (19.6 lbs)

A bit of a porker, probably due to the level of the components and the disc system. For comparison, at last weighing my FrankenTrek was down to 7.68 kg (16.9 lbs) with Pacenti SL23 alloy wheels and SRAM Force 20 groupset. The list weight is 8.52 kg (18.78 lbs) but I assume that's without bottle cages and pedals. The "lower spec" list weight on the Trek Z5 with Shimano 105 groupset, rim brakes, and house brand alloy wheels is 8.30 kg... so there's that.

Took a few photos on the ride from the shop to home, to change and go for a proper ride. Bike looks really good in black on black, with a few red highlights. The carbon weave is very visible through the matte finish, and Felt has been very restrained in their application of decals, which I appreciate a lot. I don't need to be a rolling billboard for every component the bike came with.

I'm not usually a fan of the look of bikes with sloped top tubes, but I think this frame looks REALLY good.

Disc brakes on a road bike? Now I've seen everything. Carbon dropouts and a massive 11-32t cassette.

Beefy BB30 bottom bracket gets the power down. The flawless carbon weave and smooth lines really pop in the sunshine.


Felt Z4 Disc 2016 Review.jpg 107.4 KB open | download

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 4 years ago   Posts: 527

Felt Z4 Disc - First Day - Rolling Roads

First impressions

The hoods on these SRAM Rival Hydraulic shifters are massive compared to my Force 20 shifters. I have pretty big hands so it's not a problem, just different.

It's really nice to be able to brake with one finger from the hoods and the brakes feel really good on downhills, no fade at all. I can now confirm that all the hype about brake modulation and consistency is true, although I'm not going to get a chance to try it in wet conditions. Stay tuned, going to do some climbs & descents on this bike tomorrow.

Everything is super quiet and crisp as you would expect a new bike to be. Tires are nice and grippy, I've used Rubino Pro's before to good effect. No problems at all on a few hard packed gravel sections of my local bike path.

The bottle cage is very low, but that's probably a good thing, lowers the center of gravity.

On the road

Bike feels very responsive and stiff, but I can definitely feel the extra pounds when accelerating. It feels more stable than my Trek 5200, even though the stem is 10mm shorter. I haven't delved into the geometry specs yet to figure out why. It comes with a 90mm stem so combined with the shorter frame, 3cm less might be a bit too far for me in the other direction. A slightly longer stem may be in order.

The front disc is already squeaking a little, I can see the tiniest wobble in the disc. Will have to research if this is something I need to adjust, or tweak, or just have to live with when you have disc brakes. I'll ride it for a while and see what happens when the brake pads "bed in". The rubbing seems to come and go when I hit bumps, and it gets worse if I climb out of the saddle or do any sprinting. Maybe it's no big deal, but I find it annoying as it's a constant reminder that you're being robbed of power.

It's so hard to compare frames, you never know if you're feeling "the bike" or the combination of components: the wheels, tires, and saddle make such a big difference in road feel, but who has the time to swap everything to really compare? It's the reason why I'm really skeptical of bike reviews in general, but if you ride your bike exactly the way it came out of the shop I guess subjective opinions are helpful. I'm a tinkerer and I like to try a lot of different parts. But I digress.

Set a couple of PRs, so it's definitely not holding me back in any way:

Ride by Skye Nott 17
Vancouver, Canada 20 6

Jun 26, 2016
5:12 pm

376 m
47.1 km

23.0 km/h

118 W avg

Webmaster - Staminist.com

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 4 years ago   Posts: 527

Felt Z4 Disc - Day 2 - Endurance Ride

Swapped out the stock 90 mm stem for a spare 110 mm Thomson stem I had kicking around, and lowered the bars by a few cm, and the fit is transformed! This is when keeping a record of your key bike fit measurements really comes in handy. Comfortable in all positions now, tops, hoods, and drops. Levers could be closer in the drops but I'm not going too crazy on the adjustments as I have to return the bike tomorrow.

Took the bike for a longer ride today, wanted to see how it performed (and how I'd perform) on long flat sections riding in a somewhat aero position. It felt really good (please excuse the pun), but I could definitely notice the extra bike weight. It does corner very confidently, it's a lot of fun to carve through the bends.

I had my doubts as to how useful the 32t cassette would be around town, but it's pretty nice to have that extra gear to spin up climbs at the end of a long ride when you've drained the tank.

The disc rotors/pads continue to squeak a little on and off, and the press fit BB30 started squeaking occasionally too. That may have been due to the cranks being loose though; when I got home, I noticed the axle was wobbly! Perhaps the shop was in a hurry building it up and forgot to torque it up? I'm sure glad it didn't fall apart on the road.

Had some numbness so cut the ride short (I was running out of daylight anyway). Not sure if the Prologo Scratch saddle isn't the right fit for my regions, or if I'm just out of practice doing longer rides, probably some combination of the above.

Ride by Skye Nott 14
Vancouver, Canada 37 8

Jun 27, 2016
3:53 pm

605 m
91.8 km

23.3 km/h

105 W avg

Webmaster - Staminist.com

Skye Skye Nott
@TheStaminist   Skye Nott
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Joined: 4 years ago   Posts: 527

Felt Z4 Disc - Day 3 - Group Ride

Bike felt very stable in the pack, corners very well, and the discs provide great modulation/feel for small adjustments to stay tucked in. The extra weight made the climbs a little harder than they needed to be, but it's just extra training right?

(Perhaps not surprisingly, tightening the cranks to spec instead of having them flopping around seems to have fixed the BB creak and knocking issues)

Ride by Skye Nott 19
Vancouver, Canada 4
Felt Z4 Disc Test Day 3 - Group Riding
Jun 28, 2016
6:58 pm

312 m
30.3 km

27.1 km/h

165 W avg

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