While Felt talked about a new trail bike coming in the fall for the mountain bike/XTERRA set, and showed off a gorgeous AR FRD aero road bike that, at $12,499 comes with a Pioneer powermeter and a superlight EE Cycleworks brakeset, and continues in 2016 with the IA FRD that Rinny and Daniela rocked in Kona last year, the new IA 10 and IA 12.
We're all familiar with the IA by now, the UCI-illegal tri-specific bike that Mirinda Carfrae rode to a Hawaii Ironman world title last October, and that Daniela Ryf took to an Ironman 70.3 world title that September. An affront to the UCI's 3:1 rule, it's a deep-bladed scythe loaded with a cross section as long as 11:1, triathlon-specific storage features, with the same goal as the Zipp disc: positive drag.
Negative drag happens, with wheels, it happens on America's Cup boats, which generate lift or forward propulsion," says Felt's Dave Koesel. "To take a wing oriented vertically and get it to go 50 knots into 30-knot winds, it's a phenomenon--and it's real. The IA is a keel with forward thrust, a bicycle with less drag than the sum of its parts."
And the result in Kona, Felt says, was predictable. "We tested with Rinny in the tunnel and told her with this bike and her position that she'd go 15 minutes faster than before," Koesel said. "She ended up going 12:42 faster and ran down Daniela--who was also on an IA."
But the IA's speed, and unique technology including an internal lock seatpost, it had integrated brakes and a matching integrated Devox aerobar. That technology spikes the cost of the bike, but for some as well, it's a drawback to have to wrench and pack a bike with a brake cover and special brakes, and manage a bayonet front fork. For those not mechanically saavy, it's often a dealbreaker.
While the IA we know and love stays in the line, enter the new IA 10 and 12: an IA with conventional brakes (center mount front and direct-mount rear under the rear chainstays at the bottom bracket) fork and aerobars.
Coming out of the same mold as the original IA, the 10 and 12 does away with the special front end, using a standard 1 1/8" stem. Felt provides its own semi-aero-integrated version such as to match the leading edge aerodynamics of the bike, and loads it with a 31.8 clamp, allowing consumers to run the supplied aerobar, or the consumer's personal preference.
Still, for it's ease of use, it still has some clever integration. The Di2 version of the bike stashes the junction box in a hollow on the leading edge of the headtube, in front of the steerer, tucking it into its own molded clip to keep it from rattling.
The IA 10 will find a Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, a Vision TriMax alloy crankset and a set of direct-mount FSA rear/FSA brakes. Price? An impressive $4,999.
The IA 12 and IA 14 will drive the price further down by spec'ing a Shimano Ultegra mechanical group and lower, a Vision TriMax crankset and Vision brakes, which on feel sacrifice nothing in its primary task: stopping the bike. Price? $2,999. Complete.
And if you don't like those brakes, you can replace 'em with your favorite center-bolt front of any kind (SRAM, Shimano, TriRig, etc.) and put on any two-bolt version (Shimano, EE).
Felt will also make a frameset available with pricing yet to be determined.
The net/net? Felt namesake Jim Felt said the aero penalty versus the original, fully-integrated IA is negligible. That is, if you're on the bleeding edge of Kona qualification, maybe you opt for the original, integrated bike--but if not and are just out seeking PR's, this bike is for all intents as fast as the original. "The performance difference in the tunnel is just so miniscule, you're just not giving up anything," Felt said.
The ability for us to use our own aerobars is a big one. Granted, the Devox aerobar offers tons of fitment adjust, but some of us just have that bar that we're married to. The new IA allows that partnership to continue.
It also takes a bike that debuted just a couple years ago at over 10 grand and makes it attainable. Granted, Felt already has a great range of entry- to mid-level DA and B2 tri bikes. But now the IA becomes a bike that goes onto folks' want list, because it's not otherworldly in price anymore. "With ease of maintainence and cost coming down, it's our version of the affordable superbike," Felt says. "It's a win/win."
You'll find more on the new IA at feltbicycles.com.