2011 FOES 2:1 FXR Review - Issue #43

foes

Foes bikes have been around a while. Since 1993 in fact, when Brent Foes designed an innovative 6-inch travel hardcore trail-cum-downhill bike, the LTS. Their racing pedigree is well known, with their downhill bikes over the years often favoured by privateers who could choose which bike they rode. They are at the cutting edge of suspension development too with a large range of shocks and forks. Foes’ distinctive Curnutt shocks are well known for their high-end performance, utilising shock ratios of 2:1 rather than the usual 3:1 (meaning a longer stroke), giving greater potential to infinitely fine-tune the suspension. The FXR is Foes’ all-mountain rig, sporting 6.5 inches of travel. Once you’re over the starstruck moment of it simply being a Foes and cast an objective eye over it, you may think it’s not the prettiest bike you’ve seen. But Foes likes strong bikes and you won’t find them scrimping on aluminium, with large, formed pieces taking up much of the monocoque front triangle. Combined with the simply massive Curnutt XTD air shock, the bike doesn’t have as refined a look as some more hydroformed offerings available today. The handmade in the USA FXR has a tapered head tube and single pivot design with Foes’ signature Swing Link to increase stiffness. There is an optional 150 mm x 12 mm thru-axle out back (or standard 135 mm QR), an optional floating brake arm to eliminate brake jack, and a replaceable ISCG 05 chain guide plate. The geometry is confidence inspiring, with a 67.5 degree head tube angle, low bottom bracket height of 33.75 cm (13.5 inches), and wheelbase of 1110 mm (44.4 inches). There’s a reason these bikes have a sticker on them that reads ‘Foes Racing’, and it’s because they’re built to do one thing—go downhill fast! When you let go of the brakes and start pushing your limits and hitting stuff at speed, this bike is nothing short of amazing. On trails with bigger sections like drops, large roots or cased jumps, the suspension sucks up everything in its path and the Curnutt shock allows you to simply swim in the depth of its wonderful travel. I’ve never ridden anything quite like it, so beautifully plush and progressive. The faster you go, the more confidence the frame gives you by shrugging off big hits, holding its line in the roughest of sections and turning so confidently that corners become the new straights. However, there is a trade-off. Because of a heavy compression damping platform, the XTD shock can feel notchy during climbing or in slowspeed maneuvers. There are certainly plusher and more compliant trail bikes available if small bump sensitivity is important to you. On fast trails with sharp chatter, like a lot of rough roots, you do feel the limitations of the single pivot, almost as if it catches slightly on square-edged bumps. The rear end was always active under braking however— never jacking—which could be attributed to the floating brake arm. But I’ve never been truly convinced that this is something felt by us mere mortals anyway. Foes’ racing pedigree is obvious in more ways than one. Things like requiring a 19 mm spanner to remove the rear axle, and no quick release seat collar, which implies you’ve got a mechanic waiting for you at the bottom of every run and a chairlift to take you back to the top. Overall, the FXR is an impressive bike. It’s something quite different from anything you’ll test ride on shop floors around the country. With its unique shock, rare parts and focused approach, its appeal may not be as broad as other bikes, but this is a true sports car of the mountain bike world and should be treated with the same degree of respect. If all you want to do is descend as fast as possible, yet still want the versatility of riding both up and down all day, I can think of few bikes in this category that can compete. Fab Foes for sure. MARK DANGERFIELD.