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Felt Nine 3 Hardtail 29'er.

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With Iceman season here we take a look at Felt's new Nine 3 Hardtail 29'er hardtail cross-country bike.

For Michigan trails that range from tight singletrack to open fire roads and ski trails the hardtail carbon fiber frame on a 29" wheel platform provides enough ride control while maintaining big gearing for high top speeds.  It's lightweight and mechanically simple, two benefits in an event like the Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Festival where sand, snow, mud and ice can destroy a complex full suspension bike.

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Up front the Felt Nine 3 Hardtail 29'er uses a Rock Shox Reba RL Solo Air, tapered steerer tube suspension fork with a handlebar mounted Oneloc remote control lever to lock our suspension. The fork has 100mm of travel and is convertible to 80mm with a kit from Rockshox. The Reba RL is relatively lightweight at 1662 grams in the 29'er model used here. Ride on the Reba RL can be adjusted externally for rebound and lockout.FeltMTB130

As with everything these days, this is a thru-axle design with hydraulic discs front and rear.  It stops on a pair of Shimano Deore M615 hydraulic disks, 180mm rotor in the front, a smaller 160mm rotor on the rear wheel. FeltMTB140

Handlebar controls are the workhorse, proven, durable and easy to use Shimano Deore XT dual control levers.  You've likely already ridden or even owned these 11-speed shifters since they are the most prolific in the industry, so you know they are reliable and proven.

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You already know that the brake levers and shifter pod are independently adjustable for angle so you can dial your controls in to perfection. There is plenty of room on the 5mm rise handlebars to install a shorty bar-end if you'd like. It's a great idea for endurance girls and guys.

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The bottom bracket is a dependable Race Face 73mm width threaded sleeve style that will eliminate concerns over creaking and maintenance. Once it's installed, all you have to do is make sure it remains tight and in adjustment.

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Details up front include a cool-looking carbon fiber print front derailleur chain guide to keep the chain from dropping between the chainring and the frame. The chainring is a single-specific Raceface  CNC machined 30-tooth.

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While the component set on this bike is solid it is the frame that sell it. Felt has a long history of carbon fiber hard tails and this is the latest evolution of their success in the category. Felt uses a carbon fiber construction on the internal surface of the frame called "InsideOut". InsideOut removes stress-raiser cracks from the interior of the frameset and reduces mold flash. The inside of the frame looks as good as the outside.

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Another practical, mechanical feature of the frameset are the carbon fiber thru-axle droputs. Felt's spec sheet boasts a 73mm wide threaded bottom bracket, another frame feature that avoids any creaking issues especially for riders who cross wide temprature ranges.  Disc caliper mounts were well aligned and easy to use.

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Our bike came with a generic OEM saddle that is adequate. This shot shows the nice chainstay contours and the removable, replaceable seatpost binder collar.

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Tire spec is a personal preference driven choice but the plush  Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance folding, 29" tires in the wide  2.25" size give you plenty of tire pressure variability for different trail and weather conditions.

A visually striking 11-40 Shimano 11-speed cogset is splined onto the back wheel. These new drivetrains with their very wide gearing ranges look unusual on 1X set-ups but one ride will convert you. This wide-range DYNA-SYS11 has an 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-27-31-35-40 tooth arrangement, giving you enough gears for any terrain and small enough gaps for quick shifting. FeltMTB100

 

The gem of the bike, short of the frame, is the new Shimano Deore XT M8000 rear derailleur. The derailleur is widely adjustable for spring tension. At its highest setting it insures maximum chain retention while its lower adjustment provides light touch shifting. The pulley wheels turn on improved low-friction surfaces in this new version.  Finally, the geometry of the derailleur is completely redesigned to provide faster chain transfer from cog to cog, closer cog to derailleur  interval and better chain retention with lower spring strength to facilitate easier, faster, more accurate shifting.

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Overall Felt has built a lightweight, dependable, elegant and simple cross country package that provides a lot of versatility for Midwest classic events like Iceman and the massive Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival in Cable, Wisconsin. If you are updating your bike choice for these events in 2016 the Felt Nine 3 Hardtail 29'er is a strong option.