Brent Foes, former designer and builder of off-road trucks for the likes of Ford and Nissan and drivers like Roger and Rick Mears, takes a look at current mountain bike designs. Realizing he could do much better, the bicycle division of Foes Fabrications is founded. The first Long Travel System (LTS) prototypes are built; their radical construction turns heads and sparks interest. Certain that the rest of the industry would soon catch up, the bike is designed with 6 inches of travel and has three chainring compatibility.
Most mountain bike frames have 2.5 inches or less of travel. Many designs border on terrible, some pedal poorly, and others have horrible leverage ratios and awkward shock activating mechanisms. Some suspension fork designs appear with features like disc brakes and inverted legs, but have low performance quality. The use of aluminum and monocoque construction, much less having three inches of travel, is still a point of argument among magazine editors.
Foes Racing officially introduces the LTS frames at Interbike in Anaheim. The LTS becomes the ultimate hard core trail rider’s mount, with a full 6 inches of travel in an efficient pedaling, low maintenance design. Although intended for heavy trail use, many riders begin using the LTS for DH racing, but they realize that the available forks cannot match the performance of the rear suspension. In late 1993 Foes begins development of the Foes F1 fork to match the LTS frame’s capabilities.
Meanwhile, most other mountain bike frames are still using 3.5 inches or less of travel and use skimpy, underbuilt pivot assemblies. Forks use 2.5 inches or less of travel and have wet noodle-like flex! Techno weenies are dumbfounded by the 6 inch travel Foes LTS frame. Little is understood about damping and suspension in general by most of the industry. Unbelievably some argue about whether to suspend the rider or the bike.
Foes introduces the F1 fork, a 5 inch travel, dual crown, inverted show stopper. With features like an internal floating piston compensator, air assisted 3 spring stack, adjustable rebound and compression damping and a 30mm through axle, the F1 sets the new standard. The damping quality becomes the best available on the market and only weighs 6.5 pounds. The LTS/F1 combo is the obvious choice for hardcore trail riding (later called freeriding) as well as downhill racing. A lower cost, tube frame version of the LTS, called the Weasel is introduced.
Although other manufacturers are now offering frames with up to 5 inches of travel, 3.5 inch travel forks with poor damping are still the norm. Both racers and hard core trail riders demand better performance. There are a few offerings from some small companies, but only the F1 fork stands the test of time. ‘Quality Damping’ from the big fork companies comes in the form of leaky, high maintenance cartridge units. The F1 fork is so innovative that some are overwhelmed by its advanced design.
In response to downhill race course progression, Foes releases the Slammer DH to match. With its massive sealed bearing pivots and floating disc brake, the frame has all the advantages of both four bar and single pivot designs. The Slammer DH is an instant hit on the professional downhill scene. The F1 fork’s travel is increased to 6.5 inches to match the new frame. The unique design of the F1’s dual crowns lend it the shortest axle to crown distance in the industry. The LTS and Weasel are still the number one long travel, three chainring compatible frames around.
A radical leaf spring design prototype frame using using a Sway-a-way damper is displayed. In conjunction with Curnutt Shocks, new damping assemblies are developed for future use on Foes frames and Forks.
By the time other manufacturers’ first ‘freeride’ bikes hit the market with three chainrings, four inches of travel, paired with cheap dual crown forks, Foes had been making three chainring compatible frames with 6 inches of travel with a matching 5 inch fork for years. It would take another three years before 6 inches of travel would be normal for freeride frames.
Trailing the success of the Slammer, Foes focuses on dual slalom racing with the new Zig-Zag hardtail. The Zig-Zag’s aggressive geometry and burly construction make it a DS favorite. The F1 Wet One fork is released featuring a healthy oil bath.
The FXC cross country cross country racing frame is released, built with classic Foes handling and an ultra lightweight design. The Slammer DH evolves into the 8 inch travel DHS Mono. The LTS and Weasel get a new pivot location for improved pedaling performance. The Zig-Zag FS is released with adjustable travel from 3.5-5.5 inches and shared the aggressive geometry of its hardtail brother.
5-6 inches of travel becomes standard for freeride style frames; frame and fork combinations begin to look similar to Foes framesets that were available in 1995. Fork manufacturers also begin to produce better damped, more reliable product, but the F1 is still ahead of the game.
The Curnutt R shock is introduced. Available only on Foes frames, the technology is quickly sought after by the professional racing set. Using proprietary damping technology, this unit outperforms all others to date. Foes becomes the first downhill builder to manufacture a complete frame, fork and shock combination – a truly integrated performance racing machine. Foes relocates and expand its factory to include two CNC machines, which further increases Foes’ in-house quality control.
Fork manufacturers continue to increase their travel, some at the expense of quality damping performance. Professional racers and freeriders continue their quest to find better and more consistent damping.
On the 10 year anniversary of Foes’ first long travel three chainring frame, the all new Foes Fly is released. With adjustable travel from 6-8 inches, three chainring compatibility and a floating disc brake, it is the successor of the fames LTS/Weasel lineage. The 2002 DHS Mono gets a new front triangle using an Easton downtube and a monocoque section that is a pound lighter than previous models. The F1 fork gets Curnutt technology and is boosted to 8 inches of travel. The F1’s internals are still outperforming the competition’s DH forks and weigh under 7 pounds. Foes and Curnutt continue to develop new ‘position sensitive’ damping technology.
Ten years after the first Foes LTS, every major mountain bike company now has a 3 chainring long travel bike! Sound familiar? Some current designs still struggle to match the performance of the original Foes LTS design, and many are still heavier with undersized pivot assemblies. The big fork companies are just beginning to experiment with internal floating pistons and position sensitive damping – all original Foes features!
Foes begins offering more of their models with Curnutt shocks because customers are asking for them (Richard Cunningham of MBA still says the original Curnutt shock outperforms all other stable platform valve shocks). The popular FXC grows some legs and evolves into the FXR, answering the demand from trail riders for a 5-6 inch travel that can handle the abuse of bigger riders and cross country folks looking to get more aggressive on their XC bikes. With the performance enhancing Curnutt shock added to the frame later in the year, the FXR becomes one of the best selling frames for Foes Racing.
More and more companies are now offering 5 inch travel frames to meet the requests of riders. Most of these bikes are still not available with stable platform shocks, while Foes charges ahead with the best stable platform shock yet, the Curnutt XTD. Foes introduces the all new F1 XTD fork, designed around the Curnutt piston with external threshold damping. This fork proved to be a winner its first time out. It shares all the external controls of the XTD shock and only weights 8.5 pounds. It is the first ‘position sensitive’ fork that features the original true stable platform that Curnutt Inc. and Foes developed. Other fork manufacturers attempt the same by releasing forks with stable platform, but are unsuccessful with the response from riders being, where is the stable platform? To this time, Foes is still the only manufacturer to offer a custom tuned, balanced suspension system that features the same technology front and rear.
Foes Racing introduces the all new Inferno, another Foes innovation that the industry soon starts to follow. The first of its kind in the industry, the Foes Inferno has up to 7.5 inches of travel, comes stock with a Curnutt shock and an optional floating brake setup. It has a unique monocoque front section that features an embossed flame design that adds style and stiffness. The frame offers excellent climbing agility and plenty of wheel travel for rough descents.
The DHS Mono gets some minor changes, including an adjustable rod end on the shock that enables the rider to control bottom bracket height and head angle, as well as bold new graphics. The Zig-Zag FS steps aside for the new FXR 4X, featuring Curnutt XTD suspension and perfect geometry for dual slalom and the emerging mountain cross discipline. The FXR 4X becomes a race winner under Rich Houseman at the Sonoma National DS, thanks in part to the bike’s weight loss and stiffness and acceleration gains over the Zig-Zag. The F1 XTD fork goes into full production and riders worldwide begin to experience the refined Curnutt XTD suspension with the ability to run the same fork that was race tested for over two years at NORBA and World Cup races around the world.
Foes totally redesigns the very popular Fly from the headtube to the dropouts, with many changes to meet the continuing demands of progressive riders. The new design shaves 1.5 pounds with a stiffer monocoque top tube and comes standard with the Curnutt shock, with adjustable travel from 8-9 inches of travel.
The F1 XTD fork experiences increased demand because other fork manufacturers trying to design a stable platform XTD fork are having reliability issues. The Foes Inferno and FXR continue to set sales records and continue to set standards in the mountain bike industry. Many other mountain bike companies continue to release frames that feature 5-6 inches of travel.
Foes dedicates much of their time in the development of the 2006 model line.
Foes steps up to the plate by releasing the 2:1 Curnutt XTD system at Interbike, completing another step in Foes history by offering low leverage ratios with true stable platform valve technology. Totally redesigned for 2006 after five years of development, the 2:1 DHS Mono uses a massive Curnutt XTD shock with 4.5 inches of stroke. The FXR and FXR 4X also are redesigned and earn the 2:1 ratio, which though the use of a lighter spring rate transfers less stress to the frame and improves pedaling efficiency.
Foes introduces the XCT, a trail bike available with 4 or 5 inches of travel and designed around the Curnutt shock. Two lightweight handmade hardtails are released, the ProLite HT for cross country racing and the Predator for gated racing.
Foes Racing redesigns the Fly and FXR models; introduces the RS7, a 7 inch downhill frame designed meet the requests of riders looking for a nimble bike for tighter, more technical tracks. The 2:1 ProLite FS is released, a 3.5 inch travel cross country race frame The Curnutt XTD Air shock is released, and becomes available on every Foes 2:1 suspension frame, from the ProLite FS to the FXR on to the DHS Mono, offering the rider to save weight over a Curnutt coil shock and gain the ability to adjust spring weight with the use of a shock pump.
Foes begins development of the B-29 Bomber, a 4 inch 29er trail bike, released at Interbike.
Foes Racing continues to refine and expand the model lineup. The 2:1 DHS Mono has weight shaved from all corners and benefits from improved compatibility with a 12x150mm swingarm and a replaceable ISCG 05 chain guide mount. The FXR continues its evolution, now offered with a tapered head tube and 12x150mm swingarm with optional floating brake. The Pasadena commuter/hybrid bicycle is introduced, offering riders everywhere another way to enjoying riding a Foes.
With nearly two decades of downhill racing experience, Foes Racing is excited to announce the 2011 Foes Racing Hydro. The all new Hydro retains Foes’ legendary hand-crafted fabrication and lateral stiffness that helped earn the reputation of producing some of the world’s best downhill frames. With race inspired geometry and an excellent blend of agility in tight terrain, this bike is at home in steep, fast and nasty conditions. Now riders are able to tune the bike to their needs with the option to choose from a wide variety of 10.5 x 3.5″ shocks including those offered by Cane Creek, Elka, Fox, Marzocchi and Rock Shox, as well as Curnutt XTD shocks.
2012 was a busy year with the introduction of the all new Shaver trail bike which replaced the very popular XCT. The Shaver was designed with a progressive shock linkage system that gives you a smooth rising rate through the suspension travel. The XCT had used a shock mounted directly to the swingarm.
Foes Racing designs two new models, the Shaver 29 and the F275. The Shaver 29 was an instant hit, borrowing some of the major components from the Shaver Trail. The Shaver 29 performed extremely well with adjustable shock travel, and larger wheels that allow you to fly over the most difficult terrain. The F275 is a frame built around the 27.5″ or “650B” wheel size. It has some of the same components as the Shaver Trail, but with increased wheel travel to 5.5″ and 6″. The F275 falls in between the 26″ and 29″ wheel size. We spent a lot of time on this model to make sure it performed perfectly. This could be the bike of the future!
Development begins on the Foes FFR, a new concept in suspension design for downhill MTB racing. 2014 also saw the initial development of the Foes Mixer, combining the 29” and 27.5” wheel sizes for the best of both worlds. Design and testing also begins on the first Fat Bike from Foes, the “Mutz”, with the first run of production in March of 2014 to great success.
Development continues on the Foes FFR downhill bike, with great interest from the pro downhill racers at the Sea Otter Classic. Sales of the Foes Mutz increase dramatically. The Foes Mixer goes into production with two versions offered; the Mixer Enduro model with adjustable 6.5”/7” of travel, and the Mixer Trail model with 5.5” to 6” adjustable travel. Development and testing begins on the first “Plus Size” bike from Foes, the Alpine Plus. The Alpine plus is scheduled for production in the summer of 2016.