One of the most dynamic young triathletes today is Australia’s Joshua Amberger. The young Aussie has made a name for himself over the last couple of years with some great performances in some big races. One of the world’s best swim / bikers Amberger is finding his run legs and will become one of the hardest to beat over the half iron distance.
We were lucky enough to get up close out on the race course with Amberger during Challenge Batemans Bay where he was at the front with some very experienced big hitters and not scared to take it to them. We saw him put some time between himself and the lead group of athletes including Sam Appleton, Brad Kahelfeldt, Pete Jacobs and Clayton Fettell towards the end of the bike leg. Josh finished second overall in this race after a very speedy Kahlefeldt ran to victory. Every race like this builds on Josh’s experience and makes him a better athlete.
Josh is Cellarbrating the arrival of his brand new Felt IA FRD LTD TT Triathlon bike. One of the hottest looking bikes on the market it comes packed with all the latest bells and whistles.
We asked Josh to take us through the new bike looking at the different aspects and what edge he felt they gave him.
Aerobars: There is some good chatter about the aerobars on this bike. They seem to be a hit. What do you like about them and what do they offer that previous setups don’t?
Josh Amberger: I use a mix of the Felt basebar & the Zipp Vukashift extensions. Even though Felt make great frames, they have put a lot of work into making proprietary bars that compliment the bike. For one, they are very stiff, but thin, lightweight and very ergonomic. They aren’t at right angles to the stem like some basebars, and I don’t have any issues with knocking my knees on them because of the aggressive saddle position I and most other triathletes run on the TT bikes.
I choose to switch out the Felt extensions for the Zipp Vukashift extensions simply for a little extra luxury. The Vukashifts have an integrated shifter plug for the Sram Red R2C shifters which is a really nice touch. They are finished with a course surface so there’s no need to run bartape and like the basebar they are ergonomic and very comfortable.
The adjustability of the cockpit is to be applauded. There’s different widths to mount the extensions at, and then there’s different widths and cambers to mount the arm pads on top of that. You could play around with them forever really. It’s also easy to add riser pads if need be. Ultimately, this bike is fast, but it’s also built for adjustability and comfort.
Front Forks: How do these wider forks work in both head winds and cross winds?
Josh: Head winds and cross winds are a non-issue with the IA. It’s surface area may look cumbersome to ones eyeball wind tunnel, but the shapes of this bike just work. At the right yaw, this bike even has lift.
Groupset: How do you like the new Sram Red 22 group set?
Josh: I love it. It took Sram a while to bring an 11-speed group to market but they seem to have paced themselves well to deliver an exceptional product. It’s a true ’22’ group, meaning I can use either chain ring up front with any combination on the rear without having to worry about cross-chaining or skipping a shift. They have also refined things like the R2C shifters with really nice wider paddles, and it works perfectly with my Quarq crank-based power meter.
Aerodynamic Brakes: Often with integrated brakes there are little niggles that don’t make changing wheels etc straight forward. How do the brakes perform on the new bike? (both from a maintenance and ride point of view)
Josh: The brakes perform exceptionally well. I was involved in testing the prototype brakes, and I can say the finished product available to the consumer on the IA are as good as center pull proprietary brakes are going to get. They aren’t as simple to work on as regular caliper brakes, but that’s the trade off if you want integrated, aerodynamic brakes. My personal solution to adjusting the brakes to different wheel widths is to simply have numerous pairs of brake pads, and shave them down and dedicate a pair to a particular wheelset. This solves my issues switching from a training 404 to a ultra-wide Zipp Super9 Carbon Clincher disc.
Nutrition storage: What nutrition can you get in to the on bike storage? How easy is it to use?
Josh: I can fit 6 to 7 gels in the integrated storage on the top tube, perfect for a 70.3. It’s easily accessible by a rubber lid, which can also be removed as easily to pack the gels. When training, I can fit spares and a gel in there too. This is perfect because I’ve never liked saddle bags! A really neat innovation from Felt.
Wheels: What is your 2014 wheel configuration?
Josh: My 2014 wheels are identical to the 2013 wheels, that being either a Zipp 404 or 808 Firecrest up front, and a Super9 Carbon Clincher disc to the rear. These wheels are simply magical, and the aerodynamics are twofold, being both fast yet stable in the winds. The blunt Firecrest shape is very similar to the blunt edges and tube shapes of the IA frameset, they compliment each other well. Zipp are known for their innovation and have always been an industry leader. It’s a pleasure to ride Zipp!
Ride and Handling: Tell us about the ride and handling of the new IA FRD LTD.
Josh: The handling on the IA is as best I’ve felt on a TT bike. I feel more confident on this bike than any before it, whether it’s on descents, a technical course or in the crosswinds. From the brakes to the stiff frame and bars, it responds to everything I throw at it. With the ISM Attack saddle, I could easily sit in aero position all day, it’s just that nice a ride.
To give you more than feeble words, Felt put this bike in front of me 4 days before Vegas 70.3 Worlds last year. They said I had the choice to use it, or stick to the UCI-legal DA I’d been using all year. What athlete changes to a completely new bike, not just new frameset but totally new bike with new geometry 4 days before a World Championship? It’s a slightly mad scenario considering the amount of hours of training that went into that race, but when I took it for that first ride, it was an instantaneous feeling that this was the bike I would be riding for Vegas, no questions. It just felt natural, like it’s the bike I’ve been waiting for.