Felt Sales Manager Bryan Melton is a veteran of the bicycle industry and a connoisseur of traditional cycling technology. His uniquely configured Felt F4130 reflects his appreciation of the very best in traditional cycling craftsmanship and materials. The classic 4130 cro-moly frame is welded rather than lugged and is a current production Felt Bicycles model using Columbus butted and tapered tubing. Melton trimmed his bike out with unique leather accessories to complete the traditional story of a true “gentlemen’s bike” complete with a hand made leather wine caddy for pastoral picnic sojourns into the countryside.
Melton stayed true to almost all of the original equipment Campagnolo Athena components from Vincenza, Italy the bike is supplied with. “The polished silver highlights the classic look of the bike” said Melton. He did change the bike’s furniture with an upgrade to a handmade, genuine leather classic Brooks B17 Special saddle and lathe-turned Thomson seatpost with a forged head to tune the fit and position of the bike for his long torso. The saddle carries a matching leather Brooks D-shaped zipper tool bag. The saddle upholstery matches the unique leather handlebar wrap, also from Brooks of England. Brooks got its start making cycling equipment in 1866. Most of the processes for hand crafting their unique saddles remain unchanged. Brooks even offers a special gentlemen’s “Elder Street Cycling Jacket” styled like a traditional tweed coat with ventile details like elbow patches and coat sleeves cut for dignified riding in the mounted posture.
The frame construction and styling is complimented by a unique ahead-stem that mimics the look of a traditional quill style stem but with lighter weight and better stiffness. The stem is painted to match the frame color story and features silver hardware to match the seatpost binder collar. A four-bolt front plate stem makes bar mounting easy and full rack hardware built into the rear triangle do an elegant job of accepting the rack mounting bolts.
Perhaps the most striking features on the bike are the handmade Brooks Brick Lane Roll-up Panniers mounted to a beautiful custom Velo Orange Stainless Steel rear rack. The Brooks Brick Lane Roll-Up Pannier set was introduced in 1890 by Brooks and uses a traditional water and abrasion resistant cotton canvas fabric with unusual magnetic closures to stow the panniers. A stretch cord lash system on top can hold picnic blankets or a game bag. Vegetable tanned leather trims and reinforces these bags that are still crafted in Italy. To this day the luggage system delights users as demonstrated by the slew of gushing testimonials on the Brooks website.
The pannier design is clever with magnetic closures that stow the rolled bags when not in use but open to a large cargo area of sailcloth colored canvas so it is easy to see inside the panniers. A leather strap and pin system closes the top of the panniers which are also covered by a canvas storm flap to keep contents tidy. The top section of the canvas panniers also does double shift as a partial fender for rides on damp roads.
Another delightful touch to Melton’s Felt F4130 and confirmation of his connoisseur taste is the unusual, hand made leather bottle portage that rides under the top tube. The bottle portage is oddly secure and uses brass hardware to hang from the top tube. Melton uses the leather wine portage so he never misses an opportunity to grab an unusual vintage when on tour. The unique accessory was sourced “from friends in Oregon” according to Melton. He was unsure of the source of its manufacture.
While the bike is rife with stylistic features Melton is, first and foremost, a performance rider. He is quick to assert that the Columbus 4130 butted cro-moly tubing provides race proven performance even for his 6’5″ height. The seat tube and head tube angles are classic racing geometry with a 73-degree seat tube angle and responsive 74-degree head tube angle in Melton’s preferred 61cm frame size with geometries in other frame sizes tuned for optimal handling, comfort and performance.
The Felt F4130 highlights the independence and freedom Felt has in designing unique bikes for dealers and customers. The F4130 contrasts with the advanced carbon fiber composite bikes at the top of the Felt FRD (Felt Racing Development) line that use select carbon fibers from Sweden and advanced materials like TeXtreme along with state-of-the-art hand lay-up and molding processes. “From time to time we want to try something different” Melton said. “Since we are independent we can.”
The Felt F4130 typifies Felt Bicycles’ commitment to cycling design with performance engineering. Bryan Melton’s personal interpretation of the F4130 for daily use showcases the internal bicycle culture of Felt Bicycles. It a fascinating case study of modern engineering and traditional design.