Riders on Felt bikes grab 2 golds

Auburn designed bikes are worldwide
By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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Two Olympic bikes designed by Auburn’s Jim Felt have rolled in golden performances at the Beijing Games in the past three days. German cyclist Jan Frodeno, riding a Felt Bicycle sprinted away from the group in the final meters of the Olympic men’s triathlon to take the gold medal in a time of 1 hour, 48 minutes, 53.28 seconds for the swim-cycle-run event. The 27-year-old Frodeno finished sixth at the 2007 world championship and was not expected to be a threat. Spain’s Javier Gomez, 25, was the favorite, but a pulled tendon bothered him during the running leg of the triathlon, he said. Gomez did not win a medal this year, as Canada’s Simon Whitfield took silver and New Zealand’s Beavan Docherty got bronze. Hunter Kemper placed seventh, the highest 2008 finish for an American. Another triathlete to win on a Felt bike is Australian Emma Snowsill, who won gold in the women’s triathlon on Sunday. “We are pretty excited for those athletes and it’s an honor to have them aboard our bikes,” said Felt Bicyles co-owner Diane Felt. “Emma’s been riding for Felt for a number of years. She just brought it on home for Australia. She beat them by over a minute.” The thrill of winning an Olympic gold medal was still evident in Auburn Tuesday. “This was our first time to get gold,” Diane Felt said. “We did get a silver medal in Australia in the 2000 Olympics when the triathlon made its debut in Sydney.” That was when Australian Michelli Jones placed second. “In Australia, the triathlon is huge, but we have athletes all over,” Diane Felt said, when asked about the Australian connection. Felt bikes are distributed all over California and available worldwide. “They’re in China, Russia, Japan and all over Europe,” Diane Felt said. Jim Felt was busy in meetings all day Thursday at Felt’s Irvine, Calif. Office and was unable to return phone calls Tuesday. Felt Bicycles has a design studio in Auburn, but the bicycles are made in Oregon and abroad. In Auburn, Felt bikes can be purchased at the Victory Velo Bike Shop on Lincoln Way. Team Garmin-Chipotle used Felt bikes in the Tour de France, but without the same golden results as the Olympics. However, Christian Vandeveld of Team Garmin-Chipotle placed fifth in the Tour de France, the highest 2008 finish of any American entered in the most prestigious bicycle race in the world. Like the rest of his team members, Vandeveld rode a Felt bike. Dan and Dawn Tebbs, co-owners of Victory Velo for the past two-and-a-half years cannot place any numbers on increased bike sales due to national and worldwide attention on Felt bikes from the Tour de France. Felt bike sales and business at Victory Velo will likely boom, as a result of all the worldwide publicity from the Olympics. “Between the Tour de France and the Olympics, the bikes have gained in popularity,” Dan Tebbs said. “As far as our shop goes, it’s more the knowledge that the bikes are out there. We do extremely well with Felt, with him being a local Auburnite.” Locally, Dylan Clark races on a Felt bike and the team EMC2 races in the pro category on Felt bikes. One of the key design features of Felt Bicycles are the front forks. “In the Olympic triathlon and the time trials they used the Felt-DA model,” Tebbs said. “It’s designed for aerodynamics. It has a front fork that is integrated into the frame.” The top-end Felt-DA racing model sells for $9,500. It has an odometer that gives speed and mileage. There are even two drink holders under the seat and one on the front handlebars. In longer races, riders need to keep hydrated by drinking from water bottles they carry, according to Tebbs. With two golden finishes on Felt Bicycles, the future looks good for Felt bike sales. “With the recognition that comes from winning gold medals, we are on the map,” Diane Felt said. “That is a really big honor. We are very fortunate and things are going well for us.”