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, under built 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.
September 1994 Ad:
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.
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