Built and ready to fly!
For the second year in production, the Xprezo Furax is the new DH Race bike on offer from our friends in la belle province. “Actually, it’s the 5th generation of a design that began long ago.” Larose wants you to be aware of the pedigree. It’s been five years now that designers Hugo Bardou, one of the original owners of Balfa, ventured on to begin Xprezo Cycles. Most of the key personnel came along for the ride and are still there today, including the master welder Phillipe Benoit, described by his colleagues as an 'artiste'. Collectively, the group has well over a decade of production experience. Their conclusion after a multitude of design experiments? Simplify the design and minimize maintenance.
A rear chromo triangle mates with an aluminum front via a beefy anodized linkage plate.
With a vision to create something that performs as well as endures, Xprezo creates the Furax DH Race frame with a rear Chro Mo triangle and seat mast, thus offering the strength of steel at key stress points. “On a DH bike, most of the stress is in the rear,” Larose explains, “steel is three times stronger than aluminum.” Anyone who’s ridden a chromo bike also knows that steel feels different. Riders talk of how steel ‘snaps’ you out of corners and of its ability to absorb vibrations, giving a smoother, more compliant ride. Another point is that steel doesn't fatigue like aluminum, which is good news for those of us who ride hard and ride a lot. Being stronger and more resilient, you are able to use thinner tubes that are equal in weight to aluminum. This gives their FS bikes a clean, crisp look in the back end, plus great tire clearance, all without any weight penalty.
Close up of the lock on linkage plate and tons of tire clearance with the rear chromo triangle.
Close up of the chromo seat mast.
Xprezo aren’t attempting to rewrite the book on suspension design. Producing mono pivot bikes with only two internal bearings, the goal is a low maintenance machine that is easy to service. A sure proof lock on linkage plate makes it impossible for the linkage to unwind.
On testing, the bike landed to flat on this big step down, without batting an eyelash. Steel can be forgiving.
The Furax is aimed at those who seek elite, single purpose performance from their ride. It’s a DH Race bike, and its technical specs reflect that. Low and slack, it’s built for speed. At 63.5 degrees, the head angle is one of the slackest on the market. Combine that with a 13 7/8” bottom bracket height and 17 1/4” chain stays it's no surprise that it's made to corner fast and be stable at speed. With a 9.5” eye to eye and a 3” stroke, you get the spacious range of tunability, meaning it's easy to get the bike feeling supple and plush while still being able to handle the big hits. The shock sits low in the frame, keeping the weight low and centered. My bike came with a Fox RC4 at my request, otherwise you can opt for a RockShox Vivid. I also opted to put a Fox 40 upfront, but the build kits offered come with either a Boxxer Team or World Cup. Thanks to Suspension Werx in North Van, the set up was perfect out of the gate. Even when blowing past the tranny and landing to flat on a 25 foot step down during testing, the bike handled it with aplomb, being seemingly bottomless. The suspension was described as “Super progressive” more than once over the course of demo’ing the bike with different riders over the past twelve weeks.
The icing on the cake for any new build.
Over the course of two months, I rode the Furax on Cypress, Seymour, Bear, Arduum, Pemberton, the Sunshine Coast, Burke, Ledgeview and of course, Whistler Bike Park, including a couple Phast Wednesdays. I have ridden a multitude of designs in past, including faux bar, horst link, vpp, ict, maestro, plus a handful of dw link creations in XC, AM, FR and DH incarnations.
Easy access to all the dials.
It’s a head turner for sure. Nothing else looks like it and it gets plenty of attention in the lift line as it stands out from the status quo. The chromo parts allow for small tubes giving the bike a sharp look. The aluminum front triangle has beefy gussets on the head tube junction with solid, phat welds (yes Phat!). Since the shock isn’t buried in a mass of linkages, all the adjustments are easily accessed and the shock is quick and easy to remove. With a range of 12 custom colours available, you can personalize the durable powder coat finish, getting a factory repaint at the end of the season to give it that new bike appeal all over again! The exclusivity is huge with these bikes as they will produce less than 100 this year, and that’s world wide.Jumping:
When jumping, I found the Furax like a horse chewing at the bit, easily overshooting transitions if I didn’t make the necessary adjustments. Left on its own, it stays low and goes long. Very stable with a low center of gravity, it's easy to scrub, or pops easily with just a bit of preload. When doubling up sections of trail, the bike is lively making those long reaches seem short - a common characteristic of single pivot designs.
Stable on the ground, stable in the air.
The bike excels on steep and fast terrain. This is thanks to a combination of a low BB, slack HA, short stays and of course, proper shock set up. With the long eye to eye, the rear end is easily set up to be supple and progressive, keeping pliant on small bumps and with help from the long stroke, never stacking up on repetitive hits. The custom valved Fox RC4 is an excellent performer, thanks again to Suspension Werx for a superb initial set up. Cornering:
The Furax brings high speed cornering to a new level. The short rear end literally snaps around corners. With the slack angles and short stays, the bike does it almost automatically for you. Plus the steel helps. Just weight the front end and the bike virtually does the rest. What’s Missing:
What’s missing with this bike is virtually any noise. What I noticed right away is how quiet it is. Eerily quiet. Thanks to the vibration absorbing qualities of the chromo rear end, all you hear is the shock working. Put it through the paces:
On Cypress it floated down the 5th Horseman, on Seymour it got dark & dirty eating up the steep and deep with ease. On Ledgeview, it seemed to shorten those big reachers, and I stuck my lines while dodging bullets at Burke hitting steep chutes with speed. The bike was in its element at WBP, excelling at high speeds, eating Garbo for lunch and the Canadian Open for dinner. In Summary:
It jumps well, is extremely stable, corners exceptionally and the suspension handled every case, drop or overshoot with grace, ramping up predictably. I was expecting the single pivot to wallow in the tech, but it floats better than many multi link bikes I've ridden prior. It pedals very well, and is a lively ride when you learn to harness the popping powers of single pivot. The bike excels under an active rider. And since I’ve carried more than one snapped frame down from Garbonzo (I put in nearly 100 days in the park last year), it's nice to see that someone is focused on longevity, not weight. But even in that category, the bike is easily built to a respectable sub 40 lbs. Add a Ti coil and elite build kit with WC forks and 38 lbs is attainable. What else you should know:
You can get it as a frame only or with the choice of two different build kits. Decked out with Elixir brakes, DT Swiss wheels, Minions front & back, plus Boxxers up front, they offer two levels of build kits; the Team and the World Cup. It’s also nice to see them offer Chromag bars & seats, another great Canadian company. It has a 1.5 head tube, a 12 x 150mm rear end and 216mm of rear wheel travel (8.5”).Canadian Pricing on the Furax:
Furax Team - $5649 CAD
Furax World Cup - $6449 CAD
Furax Frame only - $2989
The bike performs at speed. It's a race bike and it never lets you ever forget that while riding it. Everyone at Xprezo is a passionate rider, many of whom are racers who eagerly contribute their real world input in the design. Considering the craftsmanship of the welds and the high-end chromo tubing rear end, I believe I’ve found something that will sustain the abuse I put my bikes through. What’s also nice to know is that Xprezo is focused on sustainable growth while remaining environmentally conscientious in the production of the bikes through to the materials used. Xprezo will produce less than 100 Furax frames this year. With expansion into Europe and Western Canada, those numbers are expected to grow, but never surpassing the tight quality controls Xprezo has in place. As Larose explains “We have a relationship with all of our riders. We’re in it to go the distance.” With values like this, you'll also feel good to support Canadian industry!www.xprezo.ca