Go ahead and try to build a bike that performs better than the TK2 for this price. You’d struggle to come anywhere close to the value, explosiveness, and handling of Felt’s price-point model. The lab numbers show it’s impressively stiff, and our test rider lauded its responsiveness in mass-start events and quickness during time trial starts. It does everything you want without the flash, and it leaves cash in your wallet for upgrades.
The custom-butted aluminum frame and threaded bottom bracket (0.36 millimeters deflection) makes this an ultra-responsive ride, and the carbon fork dampens the seams in concrete tracks. A 140-millimeter head tube (size 56cm) gets you low and aggressive for pursuits and time trials. The 74-degree head tube angle, 55-millimeter BB drop, and short 395-millimeter chain stays do make for a twitchy ride though, especially when exiting turns on steep tracks. You’ll need to pay attention to keep the pole line, but you’ll appreciate its ability to weave through the crowd during the scratch race.
There’s no boutique build here, just reliable and tough parts. TruVativ’s Omnium GPX crankset impressed with its stiffness under hard efforts, and it accounts for some of the cost savings. The bike comes spec’d with a 48-tooth chainring and 15-tooth cog gear combo, which could be too easy for bigger, stronger riders.
The Felt-branded TkR1 handlebars aren’t pretty, with a fat weld on each side of the tops. But those flattened tops do provide some aero advantage, and the shallow drop battles flex under heavy acceleration. Riders looking to try their hand at the Madison would be better off with a more traditional bar with rounded tube shapes.
Mavic’s Ellipse Lift clincher wheels also keep the price low. These aero rims are best suited for training but could certainly work for race days, especially paired with Challenge’s Pista open-tubular 320 tpi tires. Our test rider noted how plush they were — so plush, in fact, that he mistakenly assumed he was riding tubular tires.
While the Ellipse wheels are good enough for the casual racer, anyone planning to race the clock in pursuits and time trials should consider upgrading to a pair of lighter, carbon aero wheels. The Zipp 808s would be a wise choice.
Other small details like the TK2’s horizontal dropouts with a cast steel surface and integrated chain tensioner make setting up and swapping wheels a quick process.
While it’s not the most elegant track bike on the market, the TK2 is an exceptional budget bike for anyone interested in giving the track a go.
• 2014 national track calendar champion
• Member of Team USA at 2014 Pan-American Championships
• 1st, team pursuit, 2013 elite track nationals
• 1st, pursuit (as pilot), 2015 para-cycling track national championships
• 2nd, individual pursuit, 2012-’14 elite track nationals
• 3rd, Madison, 2013 elite track nationals
• 3rd, points race, 2012 elite track nationals