For 2007 Felt has reworked its hardtail range to allow longer, 100mm travel forks to be fitted, finally moving away from its competition roots. New frames have a hydroformed top tube and an oversized down tube, supported by a gusset. These all combine to make the front of the bike stiff, enhancing steering accuracy. A hidden headset (the bearings are inside a larger diameter head tube rather than in separate external cups) allows Felt to keep the stressed ends of the head tube away from the (weakened) welded areas without an overly long head tube and high handlebars.
The Gila T5 does not suffer from the tendency to blow through the first half of its travel that all Suntour forks on test tended to, but overall performance is no better. Halfway through the travel the fork stiffens, and while full travel is achievable, it takes a big hit to happen. In general it feels like a shorter travel fork. Cantilever bosses do nothing to improve the visual appeal.
The rubber on the Felt was also a serious let-down. These non-branded tyres would look out of place on anything but a £100 catalogue bike. Not only do they look bad, they are also heavy and the slowest-rolling treads on test.
Hayes Sole brakes would have been a good brake in previous Dirty Dozen tests but these single-piston brakes have since been overtaken by the new breed of great value dual-piston stoppers. The dead lever travel as the single piston pushes the rotor onto the static piston falls a long way short of the modulation — and feel — of even the best cable disc brakes.
Our test model was fitted with a narrow bar, and this hampered the handling massively. However, we have been informed that any bikes shipped after April will have a full width, 26in bar. As well as a slimline seatpost, the saddle did a great deal to enhance the comfort of the Felt when seated. Despite its minimal dimensions, the padding was deep. The profile aids rider movement around the bike, making weight shifts simple.
Despite the middling forks and so-so brakes, the Felt is a good bike with just the one single failing. Unfortunately it’s a fairly big one: a low bottom bracket — it’s less than 11.5 inches from the ground — which sits below the line of the axles. When stood up this means the bottom of the bike is trying to swing around rather than being a stable platform from which to pedal.
The Q720 is a reasonably well specced, fairly comfortable bike, with a well-balanced riding position let down by a single detail. A low bottom bracket height may make the bike corner on rails, but you can scrape your heels when pedalling, and the effect when standing is disconcerting. Felt has come very close with its new machine, but no cigar this time.
MBR RATING: 8/10