FELT BICYCLES: Going for the Gold at 2016 Rio Olympics

by Mitch Bossart, Industry Writer for GoEngineer


In 2012, four American women made history. Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch, Lauren Tamayo, and Jennie Reed rode their FELT BICYCLES TK track bikes to the silver medal in the women’s team pursuit on the world stage.

The current U.S. Women’s Team Pursuit squad is the most successful outfit in the history of USA Cycling's track program.

Figure 1: The current U.S. Women’s Team Pursuit squad is the most successful outfit in the history of USA Cycling’s track program.

Going For The Gold In Rio

After that race four years ago, Vice President of Athletics for USA Cycling Jim Miller wondered what it would take to win it all—that’s when he requested Felt’s expertise to help the team get to the top.

Felt bicycles

Figure 2: The TA FRD (Track Aero Felt Racing Development) is the most advanced track-racing bicycle that the world has ever seen, designed specifically for pursuit races.

“The goal was clearly defined, and that was a gold medal in Rio,” says Jim Felt, Founder of FELT

BICYCLES. “The question for us was: How do we improve our current model and create the fastest track bike in history?”

In a sport and an industry defined by marginal gains, this project would represent one of the biggest undertakings ever at FELT BICYCLES.

Building the Fastest and Most Advanced Bikes Available Today

“The only way to make something the absolute best it can be is to be really focused on it,” says Jeff Soucek, director of engineering at FELT BICYCLES. From an engineering standpoint, that focus allowed them to create the purest race bike in existence for the USA Women’s Pursuit Cycling Team to win gold in Rio.

Every part of the TA FRD (Track Aero | Felt Racing Development) went through rigorous computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling, wind tunnel testing, and finite element analysis. Everything was designed from the ground up and engineered in-house at FELT BICYCLES.

The Technology

The company uses SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD and Stratasys 3D printers from GoEngineer. “Both of these products are essential to our product development process,” says Soucek. “SOLIDWORKS is fast and efficient, and it interfaces easily with other technologies in our process.”

Figure 3: Team USA doing what they do best—go fast!

Figure 3: Team USA doing what they do best—go fast!

The Stratasys Fortus 250 3D printer allows the product development teams to prototype the entire bike for wind tunnel testing to optimize aerodynamics.

Measure twice, Cut Once

Performing testing on the 3D-printed bike enables the designers to easily tweak the design to optimize aerodynamics and then retest. “The 3D printer allows us to iterate more, which is key to building the fastest and most advanced bikes available today,” says Soucek. “Many of our engineers are cyclists, so we take great pride in seeing our bikes win events.”

Here are the Aug. 11-16 Olympic Cycling Track schedule and spectator guide for reference.  We hope to see the USA Women’s Pursuit Cycling Team wearing gold in Rio!

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