- A lightweight, high speed, sleek commuter style electric bike with completely rigid frame and fork, narrow tires coast efficiently, quick release on both wheels
- Sturdy Aluminum alloy fenders and chain cover keep you clean and dry, integrated lights help you navigate in the dark, and reflective tires and decals keep you visible
- Great kickstand placement, functional rack with plastic Carrymore adapter on top, adjustable stem with high-quality Ergon locking grips, five frame size options
- Excellent weight distribution and handling, the bike is easy to lift, removable battery and display stay safe when parking at a public rack, integrated Micro-USB port for accessories
Felt has a reputation for being a sporty race-inspired bicycle brand and the Sport E 85-HP fits this image. It’s a sporty high-speed electric bike that can reach up to 28 mph, as a Class 3 speed pedelec it does not have a throttle but the Bosch drive system is incredibly responsive. It measures wheel speed, pedal cadence, and pedal torque 1,000 times per second to give you near-instant power from stops and I got to experience this many times while riding through Brooklyn New York. There were automobiles, stop signs, traffic signals, and pedestrians to keep an eye out for and I found that the Bosch Performance Speed motor gave me a higher level of confidence keeping up with traffic. There are many Class 3 e-bikes on the market now and this one does require a bit more effort to truly hit 28 mph, but it is very efficient and the weight of both the motor and battery is positioned low and center on the frame. In my view, this is a commuter oriented electric bike and the cool angular alloy fenders, plastic chain cover, full-sized rack with Carrymore adapter plate (for a basket attachment), and integrated lights make it very utilitarian. You could ride the Sport E in rain and at night and have a higher level of relative comfort and safety than many competing bikes. This is because the tires are slightly larger than true road tires (increasing air volume and adding comfort). The tires have a puncture protection lining to reduce flats… and in the event that a flat tire does occur, both wheels have quick release so maintenance is fast and intuitive. The tires and portions of the frame even have reflective paint and stickers to help you stand out to automobiles and other cyclists. The one area where this model compromises is on comfort vs. weight. Many similarly specced ebikes weigh in around 50 lbs because the fenders, rack, and light systems add up. Felt keeps their weight down by using high grade Aluminum and foregoing a suspension fork in favor of a sleek but rigid aero fork. The adjustable stem, Ergon saddle, and Ergon grips do something for comfort but as you can see from the video review, this bike chatters a bit and is just stiffer than average. I would definitely buy a 27.2 mm Bodyfloat seatpost suspension if I purchased this bike. When you mix high speed with efficient tires, and a stiff diamond frame, you tend to feel the road cracks and inconsistencies more acutely.
Driving the Felt SportE 85-HP is an internally geared mid-motor from Bosch. This is their Performance Line Speed drive which puts out up to 60 Newton meters of torque ranging from 250 to 500+ watts. It’s incredibly capable if you shift through the ten gears thoughtfully and use the plus and minus keys to raise and lower assist support. Rather than use a standard sized chainring, Bosch has opted for a smaller 18 tooth design (and ranges from 15 to 22 teeth on other models) that spins 2.5 times for every crank arm revolution. This keeps the chainring smaller, providing increase grab, and possibly faster starts and stops. There’s a gearbox inside the motor that translates the crank arm movement into faster spindle movement for that chainring and this produces a bit of friction and noise if you’re riding the bike unpowered. I also noticed that when riding at the higher levels of assist and with a faster RPM, the motor produces some whirring noise, almost a high pitched whine. I appreciate that Felt has included a minimalist plastic cover for both the chainring and a portion of the chain itself. This will keep your pants clean and snag-free when riding. And if you look at the composite plastic pedals with that unique grip-tape surface, I think it all comes together that this bike is meant to not mess up your work clothes or shoes. Shifting through gears is simple and fast because the Shimano Deore XT drivetrain is a higher level component and the triggers offer multi-shift (for lower gear action) and two-way action (for higher gear action). The trigger shifters are only on the right side of the bar and the derailleur is setup with the one-way clutch which is most commonly seen on mountain bikes. Since this bike rides faster and the chain might bounce around more, the addition of the Shadow Plus clutch and a clear plastic slap guard offer protection.
Powering the bike, the backlit LCD display, and both lights on the Sport E is a Bosch Powerpack 400 battery. This thing used to be the gold standard because of how compact, lightweight, and easy to remove and transport it was. Now, Bosch has an even higher capacity Powerpack 500 which offers roughly 25% more capacity and only weighs 0.4 lbs more. Considering the higher $3,799 pricepoint of the bike, I was surprised that they didn’t include the 500, especially because high-speed riding drains the battery much faster than 20 mph capped riding. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you want to ride this electric bicycle, and at least the Powerpack 500 is backwards compatible to work with this system if you wanted to buy it separately one day, but it is a bit of a question mark to me. Anyway, the Powerpack design is sleek but not fully integrated and the Felt frame doesn’t flatten out or cup the pack like some of the newest bikes I’ve seen. The tubing is mostly round and a bit tapered at the front of the top tube. Ultimately, the black frame blends well with the black plastic of the battery and motor casing but the battery still stands out, communicating that this is in fact an ebike vs. a regular unpowered bicycle. I love how easy and quick it is to remove the battery, which locks to the frame using a sturdy ABUS core. If you want, you can leave the battery clicked on at all times and simply lift and carry the bike near a power outlet for charging. The included Bosch charger puts out 4 Amps vs. just 2 Amps on a lot of competing products, and that means it can get you filled up and back out on the road quicker. The battery has a nice integrated plastic loop at the top to make carrying it easier (and safer) and the left side has an LED power indicator to help you determine how full it is, regardless of where the bike is. This pack uses Lithium-ion battery cells which are known for being long lasting and lightweight… but they are expensive. I believe a replacement battery could cost upwards of $700 so try not to drop or misplace it ;)
Operating this and other Bosch powered electric bikes is a snap, especially with the Intuvia display panel. Once the battery pack is charged and mounted to the interface on the downtube, just press the power button at the lower left corner of the LCD display panel. It boots up very quickly and should be easy to read in daylight or darkness because it’s gently backlit with a blue glow. You see your current speed, a five-tic battery infographic, and a chart of assist level (starting at off). If you press the i button on the right side of the display (or on the remote button pad located near the left grip) you will cycle through trip stats like max speed, average speed, timer, and range. Range is cool because it provides more detail than the five bar battery readout. With this menu, you can dynamically estimate how far you can go with motor support in the currently selected assist level. The Bosch system measures your assist setting, the battery capacity, and even factors in the last mile of performance to give you this dynamic range estimate which is super cool. As someone who commutes, and often takes a detour for groceries or events with friends, the range readout has helped me to know when it’s time to lower assist or plug the bike in to make it home without running out of juice. But, given the relative light weight of this bike and efficient tire and frame design, it’s not a terrible bike to just pedal unpowered. This is one of the few electric bicycles I have tested that actually feels good on flat terrain without any assist. But coming back to the display, I like that you can remove it, that it’s large enough to see when sitting upright, that it has a Micro-USB port on the right side for charging portable electronics, and that the remote button pad is so easy to reach and understand. You can literally just turn the bike on, start riding, and click plus or minus on the left pad without even looking and have the bike “just work” intuitively. You can hear and feel the light clicking sound as you arrow up or down and the i button is rubberized so your left thumb has a reference point to know where the plus and minus keys are vs. having to look down. If you’re riding fast in traffic, that’s a big deal.
In some ways, the Felt Sport E 85 HP is simple. The frame is purpose-built but doesn’t try to hide the battery or dial in comfort. The sleek bladed fork, bright red accents, mid-level disc brakes, and upgraded grips and saddle combine to deliver a great experience, but one that’s a bit more plain to me. It relies a bit more on reputation and dealer support than price value or fancy accessories. I didn’t love how the rack plate adapter thing rattled and would definitely consider the seatpost suspension products out there from Thudbuster, Bodyfloat, and even SR Suntour (which is a bit cheaper than the others). It’s a product that gets the important things right and is available in a range of sizes so you can get a perfect fit. No, at the time of this review the bike was not available in a diamond or step-thru frame which might be a deal-killer for petite riders or those with hip and knee issues, but the diamond frame is sturdy and easy to lift which is great if you have stairs to deal with or put your bike on a hanging style bus or car rack. The adjustable stem is interesting but I didn’t experiment with it enough to determine how sturdy it is. I know that Satori and some other companies make two-bolt adjustable stems that won’t rattle loose as easily. Just keep an eye on that part. I’d like to thank Chris Nolte at Propel for letting me review one of his stock bikes, it was a bit damp out during our ride in Brooklyn, New York and the fenders came in handy. For reference, I was riding the 52 cm frame size which is about Medium.
- This bike is well balanced front to rear with weight positioned low and center, it’s easy to lift because of the diamond frame (useful if you live up stairs) and can be hung from most car or bus racks by the top tube
- It’s setup well for commuting, the fenders, rear rack, quick release wheels (that have Performance Line GreenGuard puncture protection), removable battery pack and display, and addition of bottle cage bosses mean you don’t have to upgrade much or make compromises to get going
- Integrated lights run straight off the batter so you don’t have to fiddle with AA batteries, the tires are reflective from the sides to help cars see you and even some of the paint is reflective!
- I think the bike looks cool, the paint job is sporty and because the base color is black, the battery and motor casing blend in well, even the wires and cables show up less and look less cluttered than on some other products
- Interesting pedal choice, they work well with different types of shoes and might not chew up the soles of fancy work shoes as much as metal spiked pedals like the Wellgo BMX model that I see frequently
- I’m a big fan of Bosch, their Performance Line motors are responsive and powerful and the Speed model used here is perfect for commuting and keeping up with traffic
- The motor offers shift-detection which reduces strain on the chain, sprockets, and derailleur so they won’t require as much maintenance or have to be replaced as quickly even if you’re not shifting perfectly
- The drivetrain is great, it offers 10 speeds to help cover the wider range of assisted speed that the motor offers and has a special one-way clutch to keep the chain tight (click the grey lever into the up position to engage this or leave it down for easier shifting but more chain bounce)
- Being able to remove the battery pack and display is a big deal if you have to park your bike at a rack in the sun, bad weather, or sketchy neighborhood, I often bring my accessories inside for protection and to recharge
- The battery charger is compact, works with the pack either on or off the bike and does not require any kind of adapter, and fills the pack quickly
- The rear rack is setup well for a trunk bag or side-hanging panniers as well as a basket attachment on top, I appreciate that the rear light is protected by the rack and kept out of the way of most bags that you might add
- Even though there’s limited suspension, the Ergon grips and saddle offer a higher level of comfort than most other stock touch points I see and test
- Minor pro here, I love that the bike has hydraulic disc brakes because they are easier to actuate than mechanical and won’t stretch, the levers are adjustable which is handy if you have shorter fingers or wear gloves… but I feel that 160 mm for a speed pedelec is just okay vs. a 180 mm rotor up front or maybe 180 mm for both?
- Because the mid-drive motor leverages the gears that you shift through, it can operate very efficiently and offers incredible range, even with the standard Powerpack 400 here, expect 20+ miles all the way up to 40+ depending on the level of assist, ride conditions, how fast you go, and cargo+rider weight, for those who want more capacity the PowerPack 500 will work with the same interface so you could purchase a larger pack separately for long rides
- As I was thinking about lifting the bike and hanging it on a rack, I noticed that most of the cables are internally routed through the downtube, so that top tube is snag-free and just very clean
- The kickstand offers tool-free adjustable length which is great if you have to park on uneven surfaces, I like that Felt positioned the stand towards the rear (out of the way of the left crank arm and under the rack where it might support the weight of cargo)
- In my opinion, $3,800 feels like a high price considering you get the older Bosch Powerpack 400 vs. the new 500 and the bike is fairly standard without a suspension fork and not super light at ~46 lbs, though Felt is known for high quality and this model has fenders and a rack which add weight, they sells through a broad network of dealers who can fit you and provide service
- The flip side of efficiency on this bike is a reduction in comfort, there’s no suspension and the 1.5″ tires are rated from 50 to 85 PSI which is much higher than a lot of the 2″ tires that go down to 30 PSI, I’d strongly consider swapping the stock seat post for a 27.2 mm Bodyfloat, just keep in mind that it will raise the minimum saddle height by ~3 inches
- I believe that the Felt Sport E 85-HP is only available in the high-step diamond frame style (at least for model year 2017), this is a sturdy and sporty frame style but it isn’t as accessible to petite riders or those with hip and knee issues, other companies are offering step-thru and mid-step for similar models like the Bulls Lacuba EVO E45
- The Bosch motor does produce a soft whining noise when in use under full power or when you pedal at higher RPM, it’s louder than the Stromer or OHM ebikes which have gearless hub motors vs. mid-drive, the fenders did stay very quiet which is nice because sometimes plastic fenders rattle, the plastic rack cover did rattle some
- Keep an eye on the adjustable stem, it’s a neat part because it lets you optimize for comfort (upright) or aerodynamics (down and forward) but I have seen these rattle loose over time and start to strip so just keep it tight and maybe consider replacing with a rigid stem at some point if you have issues
- Minor complaint here but the plastic Carrymore deck adapter did rattle a bit, this could produce some noise and maybe get looser over time? The bike I reviewed here was brand new so I was surprised that the plate had some play as shown in the video
- Official Site: http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2016/Bikes/electric/road/Sport-E-85-HP.aspx
- More Pictures: https://goo.gl/photos/Gc7CnyeLUTpBjh3D7