Felt Compulsion LT50 - Review

Sep 23, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
TESTED
Felt Compulsion LT50

WORDS Mike Kazimer
PHOTOS Amy McDermid

The all-mountain category has exploded in recent years, with more and more riders seeking out bikes possessing 'do-it-all' capabilities. Felt's Compulsion line of bikes was designed to meet these requests, featuring 26" wheeled aluminum and carbon framed offerings available with up to 160mm of travel. The LT50 is the base model in the Compulsion series, and uses the same Equilink suspension design as the other higher end offerings in the lineup. Our size medium test bike weighed in at 32 pounds without pedals, and retails for $2899 USD.

Felt Compulsion LT50 Details

• Intended use: trail/all-mountain
• 26" wheels
• Rear wheel travel: 150 or 160mm adjustable
• Felt Equilink suspension
• 2x10 drivetrain with bashguard
• Tapered headtube
• 12 x 142 rear axle
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• MSRP: $2899 USD



Frame Design
Constructed from hydroformed 6061 aluminum, the LT50's frame has a utilitarian aesthetic to it, with relatively straight lines angling towards the back of the bike from the tapered head tube. ISCG mounts and a 12x142 rear axle are fitting for the bike's all-mountain designation, as are the top tube cable guides for dropper post routing. A dropper post isn't specced on the LT50, but it would be a highly recommended upgrade, since the kink in the down tube does limit how low the seatpost can go. We were surprised to see what Felt bills as 'Hammerschmidt routing' on the down tube - we can't remember the last time we encountered a Hammerschmidt equipped bike. The majority of the cable routing is external, mounted to the top of the down tube, with the sole exception being the internally routed front derailleur housing. Sealed cartridge bearings are used for the LT50's suspension pivots, excluding the aluminum Equilink, which uses DU bushings.


Equilink Suspension

Felt's proprietary suspension design relies on a dogbone shaped aluminum bar that connect the upper and lower links. This aluminum bar takes the pedalling forces that would usually drive the lower link forward and makes them pull down on the upper link instead, thus minimizing the influence pedalling has on the rear shock. When riders who aren't familiar with the Equilink first see the LT50, their first question is invariably, “Can you ride the bike with the link removed?” In short, no. With the link removed there would be a large amount of free play before the shock was activated, which means the bike is unrideable without the link attaching the upper and lower links. On Felt's aluminum framed Equilink bikes a pivot is located above the chainstay to accommodate the growth between the seatstay yoke and chainstay yoke that occurs as the bike goes through its travel. The carbon fiber framed Equilink bikes do not have this pivot because there is enough flex to accommodate this movement.

One of the advantages to Felt's Equilink suspension design is that there is no ideal setting for sag – running it a little softer or firmer will not affect how the suspension works. We typically ran around 30 percent sag, finding that this offered the best balance between uphill and downhill performance. The bike's travel can also be adjusted to be either 150 or 160mm by switching the mounting position of the rear shock on the upper link.

  The LT50's build kit consists of mainly mid-range parts, but the frame itself still has features like a tapered head tube, ISCG tabs, and a 12x142 rear axle. SRAM handles the drivetrain and braking duties with a mix of X5 and X7 parts, plus a pair of Avid Elixir 1 brakes, while WTB's Bronson tires take care of business in the traction department.

Specifications
Price $2899
Travel 160 or 150mm adjustable
Rear Shock RockShox Monarch R HV
Fork RockShox Domain R
Crankarms SRAM X5 10spd double 38/24t
Rear Derailleur SRAM X-7
Chain SRAM PC1031
Front Derailleur SRAM X5
Shifter Pods SRAM X-5
Handlebar Felt MTB 25mm rise
Stem Felt All-Mountain
Grips Felt lock-on
Brakes Avid Elixir 1
Hubs Felt
Rim WTB Speed disc 123
Tires WTB Bronson 2.3
Seat Felt All-Mountain
Seatpost Felt alloy 30.9mm



Riding the Compulsion LT50
bigquotesThe LT50 works best with a point and shoot riding style - choose a line, aim at the exit, and barrel over whatever gets in the way.
Climbing
Many of our local rides begin with long climbs up steep logging roads, giving us plenty of time to come to terms with how a bike handles on extended, relatively smooth climbs. In this type of terrain the LT50 exhibited minimal pedalling induced suspension movement, despite the fact that the RockShox Monarch R rear shock doesn't have any type of adjustable compression damping. Even when we shifted positions and stood up out of the saddle the Equilink did its job, staying calm and allowing us to focus on the task at hand.

These same efficient pedalling characteristics helped the LT50 on more technical climbs as well, where we were able to dispatch with multi-tiered root sections with relative ease. Granted, the LT50 does come in around 33 pounds with pedals, so we'd be hesitant to use adjectives like "scamper" or "scurry" to describe the bike's uphill performance, but it did get the job done better than expected. We did find that on more undulating uphills, where the trail rose and fell in rapid succession, the rear shock would go fairly deep into its travel, creating a slight bobbing sensation. This is when having the option to add more low speed compression damping would have been beneficial, but, on the whole, the Monarch rear shock worked well, and it was only occasionally that we found ourselves wishing for this feature.

Photo Amy McDermid
  Smooth landings were no problem for the LT50, but on rougher terrain the front fork's performance suffered.

Descending
With a 67.5 degree head angle and 432mm chainstays, the LT50's geometry places it solidly into the all-rounder category, and on the trail these numbers added up to make it a relatively neutral handling bike, with predictable performance on most terrain. The overall weight of the bike, with a good portion of it possessed by the six pound RockShox Domain, does make it a little hesitant to get off the ground at times, preferring to stay rooted to the terra firma, and means that the LT50 works best with a point and shoot riding style – choose a line, aim at the exit, and barrel over whatever gets in the way. Luckily, the Equilink suspension doesn't have any trouble handling this type of riding style, and proved to be quite competent even in choppy, blown out terrain. When it came time for cornering, the bike's relatively short rear end made it easy to slash through the apex of a turn, although we did find that when pushed too hard the WTB Bronson tires' outer knobs had a tendency to fold over and lose traction.

It was the aforementioned RockShox Domain that proved to be a thorn in the LT50's side, with its heavy weight and rudimentary damping holding back the bike from reaching its full potential. The action of the fork was fairly smooth, but it simply couldn't handle multiple big impacts in a row. Landing a jump or drop into a smooth transition wasn't a problem, but in longer sections of chunky terrain, whether it was a rock garden or a section of roots running horizontally across the trail, the fork would get ping-ponged off course, unable to keep up with the repeated hits. This pogo stick action made it necessary to remain vigilant, expending more energy to remain on course than would be necessary with a fork that had better damping. A lighter, better behaving fork would make a huge difference in the LT50's performance, greatly increasing its capabilities while also making it easier to get it airborne.


Component Check

• Handlebars – We're still dreaming of a day where we won't need to mention handlebar width, but unfortunately skinny bars are still being specc'd on bikes that deserve more. The LT50's 690mm handlebars would be better appreciated by a fixie riding hipster – they don't belong on an all-mountain bike with six inches of travel, and after suffering with them for a few rides we swapped them out for wider pair.

• Avid Elixir 1 brakes – We've had mixed experiences with SRAM's more budget oriented hydraulic disc brakes, but were pleasantly surprised by the performance of the LT50's brakes. They offered predictable, consistent power, and didn't need to be bled at any point during our test period.

• WTB Bronson tires – The 2.3” width of the Bronson tires combined with the WTB i23 rims' inner width of 23mm made for a decently wide foootprint, one that provided adequate traction both climbing and descending. However, when pushed hard, especially on hardpacked trails, the side knobs have a tendency to squirm and dive, leading to less-than inspiring cornering performance.

• SRAM X7 rear derailleur – Our LT50's X7 rear derailleur decided to leave this world after only a few rides, cracking and separating at the plastic p-knuckle just before diving into the spokes in an impressive display of mechanical hara kiri. There were no prior impacts or misalignment that would have caused this, and we haven't run into this particular issue before, so we'll chalk it up to an off day at the derailleur factory.

Photo Amy McDermid

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesWe were optimistic about the LT50's potential - with its Equilink suspension, 26" wheels and 160mm of travel it looked like we were in for a good time, but in the end we came away wanting more. The rear suspension design performed well, but the bike's parts spec, particularly the fork, prevented it from reaching its fullest potential. We realize that this is the base model in the Compulsion line, but with a price tag approaching $3000 we would have liked to see a little more value in the LT50's parts package. That being said, Felt recently announced the details of their 2014 lineup, and it looks like a number of our wishes have been met - different tires, a dropper post, wider handlebars and a RockShox Monarch rear shock with a lockout are all items that should take the LT50's performance up a notch.- Mike Kazimer

www.feltbicycles.com


66 Comments

  • + 124
 Nice to see 26' wheels again
  • + 77
 Nice to see an affordable bike for the masses.
  • + 8
 I ride a 2007 Felt Virtue and I must say that I love it as a trail bike and even have raced some Enduros with it. The suspension actually works, unlike some other gimmick companies. I think the LT50 would be a hit with a Revelation or Pike on the front and a rear shock with some sort of platform.
  • + 14
 they bitch about the fork, but at least it has a man-sized axle
  • + 6
 i'll take the "bitch axle" fork with adjustments over that thing....the domain r is like the manitou sherman of today
  • + 5
 true. but a lyric RC2 would solve everything
  • + 1
 i have a 180 mm domain rc, thats a real mans fork Smile
  • + 7
 Sherman of today? The Sherman could have been had with Ti Coil, hexlock axle, and TPC+. I'd buy another one today if they made it in 160 travel.
  • + 3
 THe rc is decent, but just the R is a pretty budget fork
  • + 1
 @SlodownU yes yes upon posting that comment i realized....but you guys remember bare-bones model i'm talking about
  • + 1
 @SORTAH i bet it has more of an effect on geometry than travel
  • + 1
 Compac, you mean the Stance, not the Sherman.
  • + 1
 I don't know about the Stance but I had a Sherman for many years and it performed flawlessly! I only ever serviced her once, not like my FOX(cough, cough).
  • + 1
 Other than the travel adjust issues that many people seemed to encounter (which fox and RS were also experiencing at the time) the fork was awesome. Hyper plush.
  • + 4
 Domain is ok and lives long. Pricing wise - the bike is way over the top. Cheap MinCh. Felt pays
less than 100$ for bulk frames.

...and that new fad of 26 wheels will never catch on...
  • + 1
 Guess I was lucky as I never had any "travel adjust issues". Like you said, it was super plush and I also loved the hex axel(little or no flex) as it was new at the time,
  • + 52
 Good to see a review of a bike under $3K
  • + 8
 I wonder if they could not have kept it under 3k using a Deore drivetrain instead and gotten a better Rear derailleur in the process (the M610/615 is available with the clutch type shadow plus configuration).
  • + 0
 I think this is a good example of WHY we don't see more sub 3k bike reviews. The reviewers are used to riding high end gear, so you send them X5/X7/Domain and they're not gonna pass muster. The reviewers don't wanna ride low spec ish any more than we do.

I would hope for a bit better spec approaching 3k as well, honestly.
  • + 3
 Come on AllMountain.
People with deep pockets who are looking at actually buying a Felt will read this and get a good idea of how a lighter, better spec Felt will ride. And other riders reading a review of a $6000 super bike will be able to guess how the cheaper $3000 version will ride. I don't get all the price bitching on pinkbike.
  • + 30
 almost refreshing to see such a bike around here...
  • + 16
 What are these strange 26" wheels you speak of? Never heard of such a preposterous idea.
  • + 9
 must be some sort of witchcraft
  • + 9
 Insert deeeight comment saying : "Actually, felt stole this suspension design from the small peruvian bike company Llama bikes back in the 80s, who famously used blah blah blah blah blah... "
  • + 8
 Actually it was Kavik. The guy is american, and apparently some folks would rather encourage stealing of ideas from american citizens without giving them any credit than have a canadian stand up for them.

forums.mtbr.com/felt/felt-equilink-revealed-266643-2.html

www.kavikdesigns.com/kavikbicycles/hidden.htm
  • + 11
 There it is.
  • + 5
 hahaha. Awesome. Honestly I love reading about these examples. It's nice to be able to sort through the bullshit.
  • + 5
 I've been riding a 2008 Compulsion since......well 2008!!!!! 3 sets of bearings and many component changes and its still going strong. hope i never have to change it. Only change I really made was adding some offset bushes to knock the head angle back a bit as the old compulsions had a crazy 69 degree head angle!!!!!
  • + 4
 SO this is what people want to read. Low end spec, aluminum frame with basic shock and fork, and its affordable for most people. I seem to remember this being high tech in about 2007 or so. At that point this type of bike was $5000.00+. A Titus El Guapo FRAME alone was $2400.00 in 2009.
  • + 6
 Nice to see a bike reviewed that isn't a silly big wheeler. Nice bike. 32lbs without pedals? never ridden a bike without pedals before.
  • + 1
 Would you rather pay for pedals that use different cleats than your brand, or have them not included so you can pick your own spec?
  • + 2
 i want free flat pedals that i can use.
  • + 5
 Equilink is worth a shot, people should try it. i had the redemption before and man that thing pedals awesome=equilink works !
  • + 4
 Currently own a Felt Virtue Sport 2012. Other than the specs, the frame itself is very similar to the LT50's. If not the same other than a few basic changes. All i can say is the bike rides amazing!
  • + 1
 Kinda sad to hear those tires are squirmy I love how minions rail corners but I'd like to have something a bit lighter better rolling but don't want to give up how they lock in when they get laid over.

Bike sounds good pity about the spec holding it back :/
  • + 2
 C'mon Pinkbike, you know we can't get our bike-nerd rocks off without seeing a price tag with five digits on it!!!

No but really, good choice here, even if it's a little "old school"...
  • + 4
 26" Wheels?????????
Where will I ride that?
I thought all the terrain that you could ride a 26er on was gone.
  • + 1
 Has anyone else had issues with the Equilink? I've been riding a Felt Virtue for over a year now and it doesn't deal with square-on hits to the rear wheel very well and the bushings get shot pretty quickly. Overall though, I think their bikes are decent for the price.
  • + 1
 I have a 2009 compulsion and although the design has changed a bit since then they still use the same equilink set-up and it works! It's the most pedal friendly 150mm bike you could ever own, keep the domain r for a more enduro style bike but put a revelation on there and it's the perfect trail bike
  • + 3
 Wow thats a nice bike. 26'' wheels, Affordable. shut up and take my money!!!
  • + 1
 Just got Mine and it was an awesome ride. Sold my HT-29er and got this bike (a little more custom setup) and it AMAZING! climbs remarkably well. Dont even miss the 29er.
  • + 2
 Glad to see a 26 inch bike. I am overwhelmed by all the 29er marketing hype.
  • + 2
 I would be very happy to buy a frameset at around $1600 with this pretty cool paint job. Felt has done some good job.
  • + 2
 690mm handlebars...that's simply out of touch with a 150 bike buyer. Especially over 30lbs (not xc)
  • + 1
 Well I'm glad all you people like the bike. Now maybe someone will buy mine.
www.pinkbike.com/buysell/1417006
  • + 1
 What are companys thinking when they spec a Bike and put Elxir 1 on them and charge $3000.
  • + 1
 So can I use this bike for enduro? not sure because it doesn't say enduro on it... it says all mountain.
  • + 1
 Only if you go out and buy enduro-specific bars, saddle, grips, stem, backpack, and presta valve caps. Then you can do it.
  • + 1
 Thanks for reviewing this bike. It is in my price range.
  • + 1
 The answer, buy a model up presumably with a better fork.
  • + 1
 I like it - very retro!! Wink
  • + 2
 Elixir 1's...SWEEEEEEEET
  • + 2
 no money
  • + 2
 bent brake lever upgrade
  • + 1
 If the TTH is too long for a S size frame ?
  • + 2
 Long live 26rs!
  • + 1
 But can we all agree to hate fat bikes? Honestly, my reaction to them explains to me how others feel about non 26-ers
  • + 1
 codypup: This guy gets it! xD
  • - 2
 IMO 67.5 degrees is too steep for a 6 inch bike
  • + 2
 That's the same hA as an Ibis Mojo HD with the fox 34. 67.5 is a good all rounder. Wtb tires are not as good as their saddles. I tried a pair out and am now going to switch back to minion high roller combo.
  • - 3
 Doesn't really stand out from anyone else to me, just another not particularly good looking all mountain bike...
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