The Felt VR bikes cover a broad spectrum of price points and this bike, the Felt VR30 is the top aluminum model.
The Shimano 105 based drivetrain puts the VR30 into a high value spec as it is the first level of Shimano’s true enthusiast level components that are designed for serviceability and higher mileage.
VR30 Frame and Fork
The Felt VR30 is constructed of butted, hydroformed aluminum tubing, with a carbon fiber fork. The bottom bracket is of the BB386 PressFit design that provides for a wider, and thus stiffer, bottom bracket area of the frame.
All shifter cables are routed internally on the as is the hydraulic brake hose to the rear brake. The carbon fork is tapered, with a 1.125″ bearing at the top and a 1.5″ bearing at the bottom to maximize lateral stiffness.
This is feature that is becoming more of a standard on adventure bikes and increasingly common on road bikes as well. As a result, the front end of the VR bike is 23% stiffer than the bikes from the previous generation.
This not only improves handling and control on rougher surfaces, such as dirt and gravel roads, but also on paved roads.
The seatstays on the aluminum frames in the VR line now surround the outside of the seat tube instead of just attaching to the back as most Felt alloy bikes have done in the past.
The result is that the seat tube is not as firmly buttressed from the rear, allowing more movement of the seat tube front to back, for additional comfort.
The bike will feel more complaint and smoother, particularly over rough surfaces, because of it.
VR30 Drivetrain and Brakes
With the exception of the crankset, the entire drivetrain and brake system on the Felt VR30 is from Shimano. The shifters are Shimano RS505, the first level of Shimano STI that offers hydraulic brakes and mechanical shifting.
The front and rear derailleurs are Shimano 105 and the chain and cassette are also Shimano. The cassette has an 11-32 gearing.
The flat mount hydraulic brake calipers are Shimano RS505, with a 140 mm Shimano Ice-Tech rotor in the rear and a 160 mm Ice-Tech rotor in the front.
Braking on the Felt VR30, once the pads have been bedded in of course, is very strong with minimal lever effort and very good modulation.
The FSA Omega crankset has 46/30 gearing combination. Most road and adventure bikes come with a compact road crankset 50/34 gearing.
Felt has apparently been listening to the many people who have been saying that wide ratio road gearing is not as low as they want and they specified gearing that has a lowest gear combination of 30 front and 32 rear which is touring bike gearing.
Few road bikes, regardless of price, that offer such hill friendly gearing as the Felt series out of the box.
The drawback to this gearing? It has less top end on fast paved descents.
Top speed on this bike is probably 40 miles per hour downhill. We like the gearing of the Felt VR30 – it suits the intended rider better.
Wheels and Contact Points
The remainder of the components on the VR30 are by Felt. The seatpost is carbon fiber, to dampen shock and vibration. The stem and handlebars are aluminum.
The wheels are by Felt, featuring 28 spokes front and rear, with a 19mm internal width tubeless ready bead rims.
The hubs are Felt alloy with centerlock brake rotor mounts for use with the best rotors from Shimano.
Like all bikes under $3000, the wheels are not exceptional and are the first item to upgrade if you want to enhance performance and take off significant weight.
The stock Felt wheels are well built and have been proven durable. Tires are 700×28 Vittoria Zaffiro and the saddle is a Kappa from Pro Logo.
Depending on the size, the Felt VR30 weighs between 21 and 22 lbs. While the weight is not superlight from a road racing bike perspective, it is very good for a disc brake equipped road or cyclocross bike.
The Felt VR30 is available in a wide array of sizes: 47, 51, 54, 56, 58, 61 cm.
Felt did a nice job with the frame on the VR series. It strikes a good balance between comfortable and performance oriented body positioning for the rider, as well as between high speed handling on pavement and lower speed stability off-road.
As far as building a bike that will do almost anything that a dedicated racing road bike will do while offering you the ability to attack all but the roughest and loosest of gravel roads, the Felt VR series is outstanding.
Head to Head Comparison
|Cannondale Synapse Disc 105||$1,499||aluminum/carbon||105||Mechanical|
|Fuji Jari 1.3||$1,699||aluminum/carbon||105||Mechanical|
|Felt VR30 (2018)||$1,799||aluminum/carbon||105||Hydraulic|
|Specialized Diverge Comp E5||$1,800||aluminum/carbon||105||Mechanical|
|Trek Domane ALR5 Disc||$1,890||aluminum/carbon||105||Hydraulic|
|Trek Checkpoint ALR5||$1,999||aluminum/carbon||105||Hydraulic|
The Trek Domane is being replaced by the Checkpoint.