Cycling down the path of life

Felt Cafe 8 Review

My Felt Cafe 8

Now that I’ve had my Felt Cafe 8 for over a month and have logged about 80 miles, I feel like I can write an in-depth review of the bike. It’s a gorgeous bike; it gets lots of “oohs and aahs.” But with every bike, there’s always a few things that could be improved upon or just don’t work for every rider.

Before I begin, let me give you a little background on myself, the rider. 1.) I’m short. This makes a difference in choosing a bike. At 5′ 2″ not all bike frames work for me. 2.) I prefer step-through frames because of my height. 3.) I’m a baby and don’t want to deal with a high maintenance bike that needs fixing and/or tweaking every few days. 4.) I’m a commuter and that’s the main reason I ride my bike – to get from point A to point B.

With those facts stated, I find the Cafe 8 a great commuter bike overall. Below I’ve outlined my experiences:

PROS

  • It’s a light weight bike. I never realized that a few pounds could make such a difference. I glide effortlessly once I get pedaling and I never feel like I’m lugging around a ton of steel (or aluminum for that matter).
  • 700c tires make a difference. My Raleigh was a great bike, but it had 26″ tires. As with longer legs, a wider circumference tire goes further with fewer pedal strokes.
  • 8 gears is just enough. I had 21 gears on my Raleigh but only ever used 4 or 5 of the gears.  An 8-speed bike fits my needs perfectly. It also shifts nicely with a single handlebar shifter.
  • The back rack is sturdy and aesthetically integrated into the bike. I anchored a single basket to the back to hold my backpack and it works great.
  • The bike balances nicely. I don’t know if this is something that just goes along with the lighter weight frame or if there is really such a thing as balance points, but the bike is well balanced. I can swing my legs to the side to exit the bike and never wobble once while coasting.
  • Nice aesthetic touches finish off the look of the bike. The leather (plether? I don’t think it’s really leather) seat and clip on pouch with matching handlebar grips are a nice contrast to the navy blue and silver frame.
  • An integrated bicycle bell. It’s a nice touch.

NEUTRAL THOUGHTS

  • The smallest frame is 16″. This is a little “big” for me, but I make it work by pushing the seat almost all the way down to the post base. However, this makes getting the clip-on pouch off difficult. The frame size would be a “PRO” for someone taller.
  • No shocks. I knew this when I bought my Cafe 8, but I had taken the shocks on my Raleigh for granted. I feel every bump I go over now – I suppose it will just make my arms more defined.
  • The price. It’s a middle-of-the-road priced bike retailing for $619 – but that does come fenders and the back rack.

CONS

  • The handlebar grips are slipping off. It might just be me, but my handlebar grips always slip off. The leather covering is really what it slipping, it’s inching closer to the shifter with the black rubber exposed at the ends. I  also don’t find the grips very comfortable. They are too hard for my hands. I will probably be replacing them at some point.
  • The seat isn’t all that comfy. It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s a bit harder than my wider, cushier Avenir seat that came with my Raleigh. This is something I might change out at some point. It also feels like it’s tipping forward and there’s no adjustment bracket to tilt it “back.”
  • The cup holder is crap. The Felt came with a pretty silver cup holder that attaches to the handlebars. However, my cup weighs it down and it droops. I finally removed it.
  • The bolts for a frame based cup holder are too low. They are placed on the lower bar and I don’t think it would hold my large cup.

ADDITIONAL ISSUES – though it may not be the bike design’s fault

  • I’ve been having problems with my inner tubes tearing at the stem. Both my back and front tire tubes have had to be replaced. It could be due to the fact I chose Presta stems instead of Schrader, but it’s been annoying to say the least.

In the end, I do love my Cafe 8. The two or three main issues are ones that can easily be resolved by swapping out accessories. I’d definitely recommend this bike for anyone looking for a good commuter bike.

 

5 Comments

  1. Portland Design Works makes a great cup holder called something like the Bar-ista. I LOVE mine. It works perfectly with my Stanley Nineteen13 travel mug, or standard to-go coffee cups.

    • @b-interesting – Thanks for sharing that info. I’ll check that cup holder out. It’s a real pain not having one!

  2. Great review! Glad it’s doing the job for you, despite those drawbacks.

  3. Hi, I just found this because I am considering getting one. I am only 5’1 1/2″ and I am worried about your comment saying that the size 16 was still “big” because I am shorter (more petite) than you. there is no sample here in Hawaii that I can test-ride. How much “bigger” was the 16 for you? Thanks.

    • @Marion – I’m only half an inch taller than you (I’m barely 5’2″) and now that I’ve been riding my felt for over a year, I can say that the 16″ is perfect. You’ll just have to lower the seat all the way down. I hope that helps!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Practical versus Pretty | Bike Lane Living - [...] have to admit that I finally ditched my Presta stems on my Felt Cafe 8 tires.  I loved the …