Very High quality bike with very good Shimano Components
The modifications that were made:
Jones H-Bar -
This was done to give an upright riding position with more hand position options for long distance touring. These Handlebars are awesome. H-Bar
This was done to give a more secure handlebar setting and also allow for the StemCaptain Thermometer (gotta know the temperature and if you are looking for an easy addition/function to add to a bike this is perfect- great holiday gift! ).
Added RockBros pedals replacing the standard slippery pedals. This was a change from the clipless that I have been using on my other bicycles (LHT & Fargo) for years. But with this bike it is working out well.
The standard saddle was fine, but I added the Brooks Saddle that I am very comfortable with.
all of the touring items that I have used before, work fine with the Felt.
Acorn handlebar and saddle bags, Garmin, Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic Panniers
It has worked out well so far as a Touring Bike. It handles the load well but does lack the front fork
braze-ons, and other braze-ons like rack mounts to water bottle cage bosses to spare spoke holders that I really use on my Surly Long Haul Trucker.
(I was hoping that Surly would make a frame/complete bike that supported the Shimano Steps system. I contacted them and they responded asking questions about usage and desired frame... so maybe someday we might see a Surly E-Bike -- maybe the Surly E-Calypso or Surly E-Trucker)
Within the 1st 250 miles, a rear wheel spoke broke. I was able to tape it up, and ride home. I got a replacement spoke, and replaced it.
At about 350 miles, another spoke broke, I bought a few replacements, replaced the spoke, taped the others to the rack just in case.
at about 750 miles, another spoke broke, I replaced it, and knew the next spoke break would indicate the need for a wheel rebuild.
at 1,250 miles, another spoke broke. I had the LBS rebuild the wheel. They indicated that factory wheel builds are not always the best. Replaced all the rear wheel spokes and spoke nipples with quality replacements.
at 1,400 miles I have had no additional spoke issues ... yet.
Shimano Steps System
The Steps Electric assist is simply just great. You have the fingertip option of how much assist is needed.
OFF - ECO - NORMAL - HIGH
Katy Trail ride (mostly flat- crushed limestone surface) riding in the OFF position was done at about 11-12 mph.
Selecting the ECO mode increased the mph to about 14.
Selecting the NORMAL mode increased it to 16.
Selecting the HIGH mode increased it to 19
Averaging about 14 mph, I was able to complete a 65 mile stretch with the battery still having power and the indicator showing I had 10 miles of assist in ECO mode.
For my touring, this would be a reasonably good day, then I would need to charge up the battery.
The E-Bike Advantage:
For me, the advantage of an e-bike is the options that it opens up for more advanced age riders.
Noise Level- You can hear the motor and each level of assist is a bit louder... but not really too loud, as other riders say they are not hearing it when I ride with them.
With the Shimano Steps system, the assist stops at 20 mph. For me that is plenty fast for touring and running errands. It helps letting me keep up with younger riders where before I would not, or they would need to slow down me - not good. Basically, it keeps you out there riding more, enjoying the outdoors, biking for errands, staying active and off the couch and out of the car.
It is the hills that the Shimano Steps system really helps. The hills that often are a challenge, and get the heart rate too high are now manageable with an e-bike. It is okay to taking routes that over time were often avoided. You do not get the same "workout", you are not covered with sweat, and too tired to move at the end of the ride, but you do indeed get a workout. And you control the assist level. Bottom line, the terrain is no longer the major factor in planning rides.
It is like going back a few years in time...
Now the major factor is "where can I plug this in to recharge the battery" after about 60 miles.
If only we didn't have to take the Battery Charger with us on the tours. Longer battery life and an easier way to charge will be the future improvements.