Designer/builder Brent Foes has been improving upon the mid-travel all-mountain bike for well over a decade and the 2011 Shaver is his latest brainchild. Still in the preproduction stages, Foes gave Pinkbike one of three Shavers in existence for first-ride experience, noting that the final version will have slight detail changes, a new through-axle configuration and a custom Fox shock tune. At the heart if the 5.5-inch-travel Shaver is a new linkage arrangement that promises to squeeze firm pedaling performance and smooth, dirt-hugging suspension from the same shock. The Shaver's beautifully constructed aluminum chassis performs this small miracle by driving the shock in a three-stage rate curve that Foes dubbed "3.Z.L" for Three-Zone-Linkage system.
About 3.Z.L. Suspension
The Foes Shaver in its element.The Shaver's all-mountain attraction is its ruggedness and simplicity.
The Shaver's single-pivot swingarm drives the shock through a pair of links that work together to provide gradual leverage rate changes as the suspension cycles to full compression. Graphed on a chart, the 3.Z.L shock begins as a falling rate to provide some initial pedaling firmness, rounds off into a straight rate in the mid-stroke to give the suspension suppleness for small to medium impacts, and then transfers into a rising rate for the final third of the shock's compression to brace for big hits and botched landings. The "bowl-shaped" rate curve that results from the Foes linkage is also the secret behind some of the world's most notable all-mountain and trailbike designs.
The smaller link between the swingarm (left) and the main rocker is the secret behind the Shaver's magic suspension rates. Two shock positions on the main rocker determine the 5 or 5.5-inch travel option
The graph exaggerates the "bowl-shape" suspension rate curve to illustrate how the beginning stroke is a falling rate, which transitions gently into a final-stroke rising rate. Foes divides the rate curve into acceleration, comfort and control zones.
Traditionally, Foes' long- and mid-travel bikes were designed around the made-by-Foes Curnutt platform shock, and there was an option for a conventional damper from Fox Racing Shox. Shavers, however, are specifically designed to work in conjunction with conventional shocks, such as the Fox Float RP23,
and do not feature the Curnutt option (It should be noted that the Shaver requires a custom tune to take advantage of the 3.Z.L. rate curve). Designing around a widely available shock significantly reduces the Shaver's price tag, while giving the buyer a range of suspension choices. Shaver Frame Notes
Foes incorporates the new-standard tapered head tube to allow for a Cane Creek Angleset headset,
and to introduce a bit more stiffness into the front end of the Shaver. The oversized, hydroformed downtube is triple butted to save weight, and its gentle "S" curves provide fork-crown clearance up front while making room for swingarm pivots and other bits near the bottom bracket.
The Shaver's tapered head tube makes sense for all-mountain, with the promise of extra strength and an Angleset option - and it's a frame fashion mandate this year.
Foes' iconic triangulated single-pivot swingarm is welded up from thin-wall, oversized tubes to boost stiffness in the lightest possible manner. Adding to the rigidity factor are wide-profile CNC-machined dropouts, pivot bosses and swingarm journals - each part, internally profiled to eliminate unnecessary aluminum. To make room for a front derailleur (or roller guide and bash guard), the main swingarm pivot is offset noticeably to the left. The offset allows a wider bearing stance, which ensures a longer service life for the frame's moving bits.
Shavers have two shock locations on the main rocker link. The upper position configures the bike with 5.5-inches of rear-wheel travel. The lower position makes it 5 inches even. Neither option affects the frame geometry, which is contemporary: 67-degree head angle, 73-degree seat angle, 13.1-inch bottom bracket height, and 17-inch chainstays. Stand-over is a generous (for mid-travel bikes), 28.5 inches, and our medium-sized Shaver's top tube was 23 inches. Shavers are intended for AM/trail-type forks in the 4.7 to 5.5-inch travel range (120- to 140-millimeters). Frame-size options are small, medium and large.
Foes ISCG05 Adapter
Shaver Frame Details (clockwise): Foes' sturdy and simple single-pivot swingarm has been fine-tuned to deliver a tasteful compromise between full-time suspension action and a brisk pedaling feel. Offsetting the swingarm pivot junction to the left reduces stress on the bearings and adds a bit more rigidity. Foes' version of the 142/12-millimeter rear through-axle is one of the burliest we've seen. A gusset on the underside of the down-tube junction is a life insurance policy for the Shaver.
Foes developed an ISCG05 mounting plate that indexes to notches in the bottom bracket, which makes for a cleaner-looking setup for front derailleurs. Chain-guide users will be happy to discover that the Shaver uses a clamp-on front derailleur, so there won't be an ugly boss on the seat tube and the Foes adapter plate, which is held in place by an EX type thread-in bearing cup, is pretty bomb proof.
Shaver Riding Impressions The setup:
An ISCG05 mounting plate indexes into the machined notches on the Shaver's threaded bottom bracket shell so the roller-guide won't rotate while it is being employed as a bash guard.
The Shaver Prototype was outfitted with a Shimano Deore XT DynaSys transmission
(42, 32, 24 crankset), Hayes Stroker Trail disc brakes
(7-inch rotors), SunRingle' Charger tubeless wheels rolling on Schwalbe
2.4-inch Hans Damph tires, and a worthy mix of Thomson and Answer cockpit components. Front suspension was a 140-millimeter-stroke Manitou Minute Pro fork, backed up with a Fox Float R shock with an air-volume booster. All-tallied, the Shaver weighed 29.9 pounds with cheap Shimano pedals. The Feel
: The Shaver rolls out with the purposeful feel of a slack-head-angle all-mountain bike, but it pedals more easily. The shock liked to sit about 19-millimeters (3/4 inch) into its stroke regardless of its starting pressure, so we found it best to set the spring pressure just high enough to keep pedaling firm, because higher pressure settings caused the shock to ramp up too quickly at full compression. The Manitou Minute fork tended to ride high in its stroke, so we kept reducing spring pressure until the Shaver felt balanced front-to-back. Once sorted out, however, the Shaver was a set-and-forget trailbike. We climbed effectively and descended aggressively without desire or need for further suspension tweaks. Going up:
Pedaling uphill on any bike with a 67-degree head angle is not an optimum riding experience, but the 720-millimeter Answer ProTaper handlebar tamed the wiggly front wheel and got the Shaver around switchbacks on par with a XC 29er (which is a good thing). Good (for an all-mountain rig) pedaling performance extended to short out-of-the-saddle bouts, where the big Foes seemed more like a XC trailbike than a purposeful descender, Climbing traction was never an issue, as the suspension seemed to remain supple when the legs were torquing hard, and the spiky tread on its massive Schwalbe tires could find grip on an oiled flag pole. In short, if you have the gas to pedal a 30-pound bike uphill, the Foes Shaver will efficiently convert your effort to forward motion. Technical report:
A spring dry spell meant that the treacherous, loose gravel and unsecured angular rocks which usually mark the beginning of summer would be thwarting the flow of our SoCal mountain trails. To its credit, the Shaver is very balanced in the corners. If the front tire slips a bit, the rear will do the same as it passes that spot. When pushed to the breakaway point, the Shaver is leaned over pretty far, so it will simply burn off some speed with a short slide and get cracking again.
Under downhill braking, the Manitou fork's tendency to ride up seemed to help keep the bike level. The Foes was an easy descender to get used to. Its suspension felt deeper than its stated, 5.5 inches and its handling seemed very forgiving. The steering is slow enough to make big-bike riders feel like they are riding a trailbike, and XC/trail riders feel like they are experiencing their first DH bike. In short, Foes hit the Shaver's suspension and head angle on the money for all-mountain. Any Suggestions?
We fussed with shock and fork settings to achieve a balance, and still ended with a slight tendency for the rear wheel to kick up when we bottomed the shock. Brent Foes called while we were testing and offered to send one of the first custom-tuned shocks from Fox. We could have used it, as the stock-tuned Float R, combined with the rising rate of the suspension, ramped up and got a bit bouncy when we hit full compression on short, steep ramps, or G-outs. The new tune has a spring and damping curve which is mated to the Shaver's 3.Z.L. profile. What Pinkbike thinks about the Shaver
Foes was in the all-mountain game well before it got its catchy name, so it is no surprise that the Shaver prototype is an impressive ride. The 5- to 6-inch-travel AM/trailbike market is populated with some great performers, but precious few are handmade in the USA and fewer still are direct descendants of World Cup Champions. The Foes Shaver is all of the above. Foes Shaver at a GlanceFrame:
6061 heat treated, hydroformed tubes, 5.5"/5" travel options, 142/12-millimeter through-axle, tapered head tube,
single-pivot 3.Z.L. pedal-optimized suspension design.Sizes:
Sm (16.5"), Med (18.5"), Large (20.5")Geometry:
67-degree head angle, 73-degree seat angle, 13.1" bottom bracket height, 17" chain stayChain Guide:
: Fox Float R, Float RP23Frame/Shock Price:
$1999/$2299 (depending upon shock option)Contact: www.foesracing.com for complete bike prices and options.Any Foes riders out there who would like to comment on the Shaver?