Bike Check: Andy’s Felt Edict XT Di2

Andy’s away in Europe, but before he left, he finished building up his new Felt Edict 3, sporting shiny new XT Di2 shifting, XTR cranks, and XT Trail hoops. The Edict is Felt’s XC race / trail bike but, since he’s usually standing it in the pits at races instead of toeing the line himself, Andy’s build up his Edict with a little more West Coast feel. Shimano’s under-the-radar XT Trail wheels, some meatier tires, and even a dropper post. An attempt to take it up to a local mountain top for some super-scenic bike photo shots was largely foiled by a crazy wind storm, forcing a rushed relocation to more sedate, waterside locations. The upside? Getting to ride between, leaving more time to play with Andy’s XT Di2 syncro shifting.

Felt offers the Edict as their cross country and trail bike. As in, it rides on trails really well, even if you’re not racing. Coincidentally, Andy’s away helping out the national cycling team at the first two XC World Cups, in Nové Mesto, CZ and Albstadt, Germany. Sporting 100mm of rear travel, paired with Rock Shox’s Reba 120mm fork up front, the Edict is a surprisingly capable bike, even outside the tape of your local XC race. Andy’s isn’t the only Felt Edict demo around the shop right now, and the other one has recently seen action at the very technical (steep) NIMBY 50 XCM race in Pemberton as well as a BC Enduro Series stop in Penticton. And on Vancouver Island’s technical, rocky singletrack? It’s right at home. Andy’s toughened up the Edict a bit, too, adding more substantial Maxxis Ardent and Forekaster tires to Shimano’s updated, 27.9mm wide XT Trail rims. Oh yeah, and a 2×11 XT Di2 drivetrain, with XTR cranks thrown in.

XT Di2 – – is it a bit crazy? yeah. Is it a bit awesome? Yeah. How you feel about those statements, at this point, probably says as much about you as it does about the promise of electronic shifting. Like road Di2, there’s the obvious and/or marginal improvements in shifting performance which cyclo-nerds have been arguing over since Dura-Ace Di2 was introduced around a decade ago. Whether or not you think those improvements are worth the entry fee likely depends on where you fall in the constellation of  gear-nerd/tech-chill/racer/retro-grouch/performance junkie/Luddite/price-conscious/fast-enough-it’s-free. Mechanical XT works really well now, right? So why are we corralling tiny robots into our derailleurs. I get pissy when my phone’s batteries get low, never mind when my Garmin dies mid-ride (don’t you just love getting out in the woods, just being in Nature). Why would I add more batteries? This is where the fringe benefits come in: completely changing the base premise of how shifting works enables all sorts of simple fixes to those small, nagging problems that couldn’t be worked around with cables in the picture. And, if you don’t perfectly in the middle of the ‘standard’ ergonomic range, some of these end up being more than small fixes. As Shawn noted after riding her Ultegra Di2 equipped Cervélo R5, the shorter lever throw of Shimano’s electronic shifting meant she could shift from the hoods and from the drops. For the first time. Similarly, when I jumped on Andy’s bike it didn’t take me long to realize the paddle position was much, much more comfortable than on my own, identical Felt Edict 3. The paddles were backwards – because you can do that on Di2 – and I kept shifting the wrong way. But it was so, so much more comfortable to do so. That’s because Shimano’s completely changed the shifter body – integrating it mostly into the clamp mechanism, thereby negating the need for a bulky shifter body.

This greatly extends the range of possible positions relative to the brake lever compared to mechanical, which still needs to house a bunch of tiny springs and cogs. It’s Andy’s bike, and he’s …. particular about how it’s set up. So I didn’t get a chance to really mess with the shifters/brake levers but, in addition to rotating the levers around the bars you can also move the actual paddles in and out to adjust the throw, feel, and force required to shift. And, as mentioned, program which paddle makes riding hard, and which makes it easy. And, if that’s not enough, if you’re running Andy’s 2x ring set up, you get to fully program the sequence of shifting, or even run two shifters if you want a weird, retro-futurist set-up. There’s too many options to describe here, but plenty of other people have talked about them, at length. If those don’t interest you, the fit options should. Whether you’re a tinkerer, who just loves having things on your bike you can annoy your riding buddies by changing 3 times every ride, or whether you’re slightly outside some engineers idea of ‘normal,’ the increased fit adjustments should be a very welcome change. I have the feeling these range of possible options Di2 opens up are only starting to be explored. Already, Shimano’s made it so XT works for my weird spindly alien hands, but also work for Shawn’s shorter reach. Is that too much to ask? For the most part, not anymore. Thank you tiny, accommodating robots, thank you.

Now, rant over, look at the rest of Andy’s Felt Edict three, in detail: