Because the majority of suspension gubbins are behind the seat tube, Felt can build a light and somewhat traditional front triangle. The top tube is hydroformed and the down tube is double butted. A full-length seat tube splays at the bottom bracket for increased stiffness. Finally, a small bridging gusset supports the dropped seat-tube/top-tube junction.
Moving rearward, things get more hi-tech. Felt uses a one-piece carbon swingarm with aluminium dropouts and pivot yokes. Here a CNC-machined lower link and two forged rocker links connect the carbon swingarm to the front end. For extra rigidity, upper link plates have a small carbon plate bolted in. Pivots use common-size sealed cartridge bearings and while most of the hardware is neat, the shock and main pivot nuts look like something from B&Q.
If the blurb in the Felt catalogue is to be believed, the Equilink suspension is the answer to all your prayers. Obviously it connects the upper and lower links but how it “neutralises the effects of weight transfer without the direct use of chain force” is anyone’s guess. What we can tell you is that it is easy to set up, doesn’t exhibit a lot of chain growth and as a result you don’t get much pedal feedback.
Even though the RockShox Recon has 10mm less travel than the Fox units on the other bikes, it pretty much matches them hit for hit.
We experienced no hand fatigue or arm pump but it does dive more than the Fox units.
While Shimano hubs are reliable and have no problems with availability of spare parts, the low-spec Acera units on the Felt drag the bike down in terms of value while adding weight, especially on the rear. Additionally the Mavic XM117 disc rims don’t have eyelets. This wheel package would be more fitting on a £500 bike.
With four-degree upsweep and eight-degree back, the profile of the in-house handlebar is pretty good — sadly the 24.5in width is grossly inadequate. The seatpost and saddle are functional but the Virtue really needs a quick release collar as it’s the one bike on test where we would definitely like to get the saddle out of the way on steep technical descents.
The combination of the 100mm stem, super narrow handlebar and steep head angle makes for a white-knuckle ride on all but the smoothest trails. With a better cockpit set up, and a good set of tyres the position on the Virtue could be improved, but there is no getting around the fact that it is more ‘long-travel XC’ than ‘short-travel trail’. Suspension action front and rear is well balanced and even if we are sceptical about the actual workings of the Equilink, the rear suspension performs well. We experienced no harsh spikes and it offers reasonably good small bump sensitivity. However, after two outings the bolts securing the rocker links to the seat-tube were pretty much hanging out — nothing a spot of Loctite couldn’t cure, but we were surprised how quickly it occurred.
There is no denying that the rear suspension on the Virtue 2 works, but we feel that Felt’s claims are somewhat inflated. Basically it pedals fairly well for a 130mm bike and even offers good bump absorption but it is no better than any of the other bikes on test.
The traditional XC race geometry and high bottom bracket aren’t ideal for trail riding and are exaggerated by the ultra narrow bar and long stem. But the final nail in the coffin of the Virtue 2 is the cheap, heavy wheels. Could do better.
MBR RATING: 6/10