When we last profiled Wout van Aert's rainbow-themed Felt cyclocross bike at Jingle Cross, conditions were a little different compared to those at the 2018 World Championships in Valkenburg-Limburg. Temperatures soared into the 90s, the course was bone dry and Van Aert was struggling in the Iowa heat.
Fast forward four months, and Van Aert gladly welcomed the changes, even if it did not include attending American football games. Van Aert surprised the cyclocross world by riding his Felt FRDx frame built with Zipp wheels and the SRAM Red eTap HRD groupset to his third-straight title at the 2018 World Championships in Valkenburg-Limburg.
At Jingle Cross, Van Aert rode an all-white FRDx frame with rainbow accents. Back home in the European mud, he has also used Felt pit bikes with different paint schemes. At Worlds, Van Aert started on the all-white bike and used another build with different colors as his B bike.
The 2017/18 season marked Van Aert's first full season with Felt. When his team changed to Crelan-Charles at the beginning of 2017, it also switched from the Colnago Prestige he was seen riding in 2016 to the Felt Fx series frame.
Felt makes two high-end cyclocross framesets: the F1x and FRDx. Felt's F1x model, which formerly had a unique Shimano Di2 build, now comes as a $4,199 SRAM Force 1 complete build or $1,999 frameset.
Felt's highest-end cyclocross frame is the $3,999 F FRDx frameset, which uses the company's UHC Ultimate + Texteme® carbon fiber to form a package that weighs just 3.6 pounds for the frame, fork, headset and thru-axles. The FRDx frameset provides 91 grams of weight savings versus the F1x UHC Advanced-based frameset at a cost of $2,000.
Van Aert has joined Jeremy Powers in testing the SRAM Red eTap HRD groupset for cyclocross the past few years. The groupset requires the use of a double chain ring up front, which does not stand out much in Europe, since many athletes ride a double.
Van Aert runs carbon Zipp wheels. At Jingle Cross he used Zipp Firecrest 202 tubulars mounted with 33mm Dugast tires.
The biggest change for Van Aert's setup at Worlds was, not surprisingly, his tire choice. With conditions in Valkenburg slightly more muddy than they were in Iowa City, a switch to Rhino mud treads was expected. However, Van Aert took it a step further and also went narrower.
Van Aert rode 30mm-wide Dugast Rhino tubulars to help find riding room in the ruts that littered the Valkenburg course. "I think I am one of the few guys in the peloton who likes to ride on narrow tires," he told Cyclocross Magazine about his tire choice. "I felt comfortable today in the ruts because [the tires] are more narrow than the rut, so you are more sliding through it."
You can read more about Van Aert's tire choice in our Worlds tech roundup.
See the photo gallery below the specs for an in-depth look at Van Aert's 2017 Felt FRDx cyclocross bike and setup we profiled at Jingle Cross and some of the changes he made for the 2018 World Championships.
Specifications: Wout van Aert's 2018 World Championships Felt FRDx
Frame: Felt FRDx carbon, 12x142mm thru-axle
Fork: Felt Cyclocross UHC Ultimate and TeXtreme carbon, tapered steer tube, 12mm TA
Shifter/Brake Levers: SRAM RED eTap HRD Shift-Brake Control
Brake Calipers: SRAM Red eTap HRD, HydroHC, flat mount
Rotors: SRAM Centerline, 140mm
Rear Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Front Derailleur: SRAM Red eTap
Crankset: SRAM Red, Quarq power-ready
Chainring(s): SRAM X GlideR, 46/36t
Cassette: SRAM 1190, 11-28t
Chain: SRAM Red 22
Stem: Zipp SL Speed, carbon
Handlebar: Zipp Service Course SL 70 Ergo, alloy
Seatpost: Zipp SL Speed, carbon, 20mm offset
Saddle: ProLogo Scratch2 CPC Airing Nack, carbon rails
Wheels: Zipp 202 Firecrest carbon tubular wheels
Hubs: Zipp 77/177
Tires: Andre Dugast Rhino 700x30c tubulars