First Ride: Foes 2011 Shaver All-Mountain Prototype

May 10, 2011 at 0:09
May 10, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
 
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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.

The Foes Shaver in its element.The Shaver's all-mountain attraction is its ruggedness and simplicity.
The Foes Shaver in its element.The Shaver's all-mountain attraction is its ruggedness and simplicity.

About 3.Z.L. Suspension:

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 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
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.
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.

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.
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 ISCG05 Adapter

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.

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.
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.


Shaver Riding Impressions

The setup: 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 Glance

Frame: 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 stay
Chain Guide: ISCG05 compatible
Shock: Fox Float R, Float RP23
Frame/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?
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54 Comments

  • + 16
 Fact of the matter is, trail bikes are just plain fun. Call em All Mtn if you need to be masculine about it. But this bike no doubt is a blast, and nice touch with the anti-rotating bashing ring notches.
  • + 3
 I think the "trail" title is too broad. Name one mountain bike that isn't made for riding a trail. In fact, many mtbs aren't used on mountains since most people don't have real mountain access so trail bikes is what we should call any non road bike. All Mountain describes the specific use the was DH bike or XC bike does.
It's not about being manly, it's about a name that fits. I ride an AM bike.
  • + 5
 The welds are beautiful and the craftsmanship looks top notch, just look at all those cnc bits with in the frame. You get what you pay for.
  • + 0
 exactly!
  • + 2
 Looks like a really nice, fun and sturdy bike. It seems to be doing all the right things that our crowd is looking for in a trail bike. I'm a little concerned with it needing such a custom tuned rear shock. Deciding to go with an 'off the shelf' part like an rp2 instead of a proprietary carnutt, but then turning right around and saying it will need a custom tune doesn't make much sense to the everyday joe like most of us. It's a shame that this frame would most likely cost 1/2 what it does if it was manufactured overseas. Hopefully the next few years will see more USA/UK/AUS made companies to get it cheaper to buy 'local'. Great review!
  • + 2
 tons of bikes use custom tuned shocks.
  • + 1
 For this reason you should never buy a used air shock, unless it has insane adjustability. Chances are it isn't tuned to your bike. It won't ramp up right.
  • + 4
 Looks tough...I like...I hope the bike's name is still in the prototype stage too...
  • + 2
 I'll get a shaver and buy my kid a razor scooter to match! Razz
  • + 3
 Ok, I like the bike, and I'm glad it rides well, but... That NAME. LOL
  • + 2
 my foes has that same linkage - they've done it before - pedals really well with curnutt shock!
  • + 2
 Hey RC, this isn't MBA anymore. It's okay to use metric figures. Wink
  • + 4
 I'm not afraid to use metric or inches - I use what works at the moment. Language is about communication, I think, not so much about rules. HA. :- )
  • + 0
 Haha! Cheers, man!
  • + 1
 That looks alot like the APP link from santa cruz. Looks like fun though, I wish "made in USA" didn't have to cost so mutch.
  • + 1
 POD has a bike with a manitou shock blowing up and they choose to post this same day? Should've waited a few.....
  • + 2
 thats a FORK in the pic. not a shock
  • + 5
 You are right, never buy a Manitou because of that picture of a much older, completely different model, different use FORK that you don't know the history of. The article isn't about the fork anyway, its about the frame. The Minute is a great trail fork regardless.
  • + 2
 Reminds me of my 05 DHS Mono. Nice'n ugly.
  • + 4
 I think it looks pretty good, not sure why everyone is callin it ugly
  • + 1
 where's the 2:1 ratio? that was foes to me
  • + 2
 its close to 2:1 but dont forget, none of their bikes are exactly 2:1.
  • + 1
 sorry, thats an ugly rear sus setup there
  • - 3
 Pretty skeptical about this one. A bike that requires custom valved shocks just to behave normally seems to be a bike that is using an outdated, primitive suspension design. As Cunningham states, "...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." You could spend a lot less money on a frame to get this kind of disappointing performance!
And it looks like you would have to spend even more with the Foes to get a shock that will actually work with this frame.... "[the] custom-tuned shock....has a spring and damping curve which is mated to the Shaver's 3.Z.L. profile..." But by the sound of things the frame doesn't do too well without it.
  • + 4
 a lot of companies use custom tuned shocks to work with their bike. this is nothing new what so ever. and the custom tuned shock will come with the bike. its not like you have to spend more money to get it.
and single pivot bikes are outdated? whoa, alert the press on that one.
  • - 1
 Single pivot isn't outdated at all, it has more to do with where the main pivot is placed. And yes lots of bikes use custom tuned shocks. Don't know where you read that the custom tuned shock will be included though. Here's what I read: "...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..."

Does that say 'custom-tuned shock included' to you?
  • + 3
 the article said that they received the custom tuned shock from Fox late and they sent PB the shock. Foes wouldnt be selling a bike with a shock that doesnt perform with their new suspension design.
  • + 1
 I really can't wait for this frame to come out. iI want one! Big Grin
  • + 1
 looks a bitch to clean...
  • + 3
 Oh no...
  • + 1
 cant wait for this to come out! going to order one as soon as i can
  • + 1
 that looks pretty chino to me
  • + 0
 Looks like a Titus loco moto from the year 2000 or so.. Foes needs to update suspension design over there..
  • + 1
 looks like a pretty sweet bike
  • + 0
 That looks alot like a santa cruz ABP link. I bet it's fun though.
  • + 0
 Needs a Shivver SC so it can be a Shaver with a Shivver.
  • + 1
 OOOOH! Triple rings!
  • + 1
 My first thought was "I'd get a bash guard on that right quick."
  • - 1
 Re-branding of existing technology (including the BB ISCG mount which has been done before).
  • + 1
 what a dumb general comment....what else is "re-branded?" they have been using the indexed and removable iscg mounts for a few years now.
  • + 0
 I agree with what you say, the removable iscg has been around for a while - it's nothing new.

Maybe my comment wasn't clear? My main issue is the branding of the 3.Z.L suspension - which is basically a linkage and leverage ratio that has been used lots of times before. I just get tired of re-heated marketing spin of existing mechanical principles. However, I guess that's how the industry sells these things to consumer...?

Sorry if I caused offence, 'deadatbirth'.
  • - 2
 $2000-2300 for an ALUMINUM AM frame? NO THANKS! You can get a decent spec'd complete for that much.
  • + 6
 its on par with other high end aluminum frames....in fact its actually cheaper then a lot and its hand made in america.
  • - 1
 Honestly, I dont care that its made in the USA. Sure its a nice idea, but made by hand in the USA doesnt mean better. They all crack just the same. Plus I dont believe it is higher quality then the AM frames being made by S, Giant, or Trek. Do you really thing you are getting $700 extra worth of performance? Just saying...
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