The Beginning of Modern DH? 1994 Foes LTS Prototype - Sea Otter 2017

Apr 21, 2017
by Richard Cunningham  
Foes LTS


Foes LTS Prototype - 1994

Brent Foes came from off-road truck racing, and when he discovered mountain bikes, the talented fabricator immediately set to work on a dual-suspension chassis. The LTS was one of his breakthrough designs, and while some say he hammered out the LTS monocoque frame and swingarm in 1993, Brent claims he finished welding the chassis in early '94. It had six inches of rear-suspension travel, powered by a Fox air-sprung emulsion-type damper. That kind of wheel travel was unheard of then, as witnessed by the-state-of-the art, 1994 RockShox Mag 21 fork. Armed with a one-inch steerer tube and a paltry, 60-millimeter stroke, the made-for-XC-racing slider was woefully inadequate. It would be years before fork makers would catch up up with advances in rear suspension.

The restoration was the work of Stefan Utz, who says that the bike will be on permanent display at the Marin Bicycle Museum. The components were collected from unlikely sources: road racing cranks were the only ones available with large enough chainrings. Shimano "rim-rubber" V-Brakes were the best available stoppers, and HED carbon aero wheels ensured that its rider could take advantage of the 52-tooth chainring. Shifting was arguably Shimano's most stable and reliable transmission: the blue-parallelogram, eight-speed XTR.
Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
The two-bolt fork crown suggests that the LTS's RockShox Mag 21 was an early production model.


Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
Single-pivot swingarm and elevated chainstays made for a simple and sturdy rear suspension.


Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
External stiffeners prevented the brake pivot posts from bending outward under heavy braking.

Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
"Shorter," 125mm stems were used for downhill stability. The original probably had a threaded steerer tube.
Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
Three-finger XTR brake levers.... Yeah, sometimes, you needed three fingers.

Sea Otter Classic 2017 1994 Foes LTS Prototype
The hole stiffened the forward frame section. Two halves were welded together to create a box section.

Foes hammered out the prototype by hand and soonafter, he built a hydroforming press to create the matching halves needed to create the production versions. Serial production Foes LTS frames can be easily recognized by the pocketing formed into the front sections - a technique used to add stiffness to a hollow sheet metal structure, which is a feature that continues throughout the Foes product line to this day.





100 Comments

  • + 261
 what orange still use for inspiration today
  • - 15
flag fiatpolski (Apr 21, 2017 at 2:54) (Below Threshold)
 And that's not even a bad thing!
  • + 109
 your comment does not surprise me give your name contains fiat.:
  • + 0
 @poah: Fiat and Polski!
  • + 0
 @poah: on a pedantic note I think you will be surprised to learn how many innovations have come from fiat in the motoring world. Fiat were and still are prolific innovators in the motoring world...

But I guess that's no fun to say
  • + 0
 I've got 3 fiats in my car history
  • + 2
 @poah: I undercut that with 3 Alfas.
  • + 34
 V-brakes didn't come out till summer of '96 as a '97 product. We were scrambling to get them before Worlds in Cairns that year.
  • + 3
 Aldo the front brake isn't Shimano,looks like a IRD,the original side pull brake.
  • + 3
 @nozes: The rear brake is shimano. In '94 Shimano was still producing the XTR canti as their top end brake (had a pair)
  • + 2
 Wow, really that late!? My old 98 Marin b17 (RIP) had bosses to fit a Hope c2 hydraulic disc (with an additional adapter that is). And my 98 marz z1 (still going strong ofc) has disc mounts too (on both sides...).
  • + 2
 They might have come out a little earlier than that. I moved to UT in Feb97, and had had V-brakes for at least the entire summer of '96. So maybe spring of '96. Actually, I remember them on the '96 Stumpjumpers. So maybe we're both a little off LOL

edit: MOMBAT has v-brakes listed in their Shimano history as a '96 model year product. That jives with my recollection. I bought a new '95 Stumpjumper in evil matte black hahah, the '96 was sky blue and we were all amazed at the power of the new V-brakes to flex the seat stays. They weren't available separate for a couple months, I remember that. Anyway.
  • + 2
 @luelling: Yes,the rear is a '97 XT v-brake. I only mentioned the front brake.
  • + 1
 @nozes: I was referring to the OP
  • + 1
 Correct @lelandjt! The XT and XTR V's came in summer '96 as midseason models. Those are definitely not 1994! Looking at the XTR STI combo-levers, it's obvious somebody added those later, as the M900 units had ratio for cantilever brakes. Oh, and @nozes, as far as I can remember, the patent for the side pull brake is out there since 1927, so... Smile
  • + 2
 @Maxipedia: I knew somebody would bring that up Wink
  • + 12
 I greatly appreciate the simplicity surrounding the idea of rim brake boosters. I feel like they were an excellent example of the type of innovation that drives the industry forward.
  • + 91
 And also an excuse to buy some thing anodised purple.
  • + 10
 Brake booster was the thing that represent how aggressive you are.
  • + 12
 I had a titanium one. It conflicted me as I wanted a purple one to match my purple bolts. My friends just made them. Of course, it had to match your Daves Chain Device and that big ass bar thing that stuck out from your drop out with a spring on it that attached to your mech arm. D skool clutch thingy. Oh and your USE seatpost.
  • + 5
 Brake Boost will be the next hype.
  • + 5
 @ilovedust: ahh yes the DCD! Let's not forget the Club Roost riser bar stiffener, in purple, naturally.
  • - 5
flag JesseE (Apr 21, 2017 at 5:01) (Below Threshold)
 @bigburd: boo yah!

Those things did NOTHING
  • + 12
 @JesseE: Tell that to the HS33 on the back of my trials bike. Rim brake boosters are a must in some applications.
  • + 2
 @bigburd: Hell yes lol
  • + 0
 @gibbon-on-an-orange: Maybe a select few application and certain brakes, but my experience with a couple on the front and back was 3% gain at best, maybe.
  • + 5
 @JesseE:
Maybe, but it just looked weird to see the frame bend outwards when you pulled hard on those HS33 brakes...
  • + 2
 @gibbon-on-an-orange: That was the spindle type rear brake? Had one on my Reflex "Carbon" Bike. It would pull the seatstays outwards. A purple brake booster was a must :-)
  • + 3
 :Yeah had tons of stay flex without abooster. They worked
  • + 1
 @BryceBorlick: ..and purple
  • + 11
 So glad I was part of the this time period in bikes. I love all my new bikes, but those were awesome days to be a rider coming out of BMX and into MTB.
  • + 10
 V-Brakes with Cantilever brake levers... your mechanic should be fired...
  • + 5
 if you could manage to have the wheel true that combo gave lots of power and modulation at the expense of a lot throw at the lever. talk about mushy feeling!!
  • + 1
 @donpinpon29: mushy, definitely how I would describe it Smile
  • + 1
 @donpinpon29: Are you forgetting the levels of brake locking Smile mushy was the closest we got to not having an on/off brake system that would send you over the bars after they ditched the fiber pads and went to rubbers.

I still feel my old (but not that old) xtr rimbrakes could outperform my disk brakes by a hell of a lot in terms of sheer stopping power. Not so great for the modulation granted. I never wore down a rim pad with those, they'd always tear right off the metal lol, onwards to the metal enclosed pads > fun innovative times.
  • + 1
 @Enzyme: always fine tuning this scott-mathauser square orange for amazing power
  • + 8
 Just wondering, is it a coincidence, that this was posted in the same day as Marin Wolf? Looks like they try to resurrect this Frankenstein...
  • + 6
 I think modern Downhill began when people figured out that you should move the saddle out of the way.
  • + 2
 I have a 93 # 50 LTS it's awesome, Judy DH with 1 1/2 steering tube. all XTR components original, right down to the tires which are metro duo and cooks bros dog bone cranks fox 4 and 5 . Foes really made a stunning bike and I am happy to see many write ups on these lately. Maybe they should have a tv show. Wink ????
EAO
  • + 1
 really? the article says this is the prototype frame, which was finished early 1994.
  • + 2
 @wildthingdh1: Judy dh didn't come out until 95.
  • + 1
 Please post some photos as I would love to see it.
  • + 2
 @wildthingdh1: my frame is stamped November of 93 the 50th one built I had the series confirmed by Foes when I received the bike a year ago.
I'm into old school bmx but when I found this In storage I had to have. It was wrapped up tight in storage and in fantastic shape.
I'll try to post pictures if I can figure out how. Lol
  • + 1
 @Bob-Agg: I'm just stating what's on it but thanks for the info. I did not know that.
The bike was sold and bought in April of 94 in Florida. When I got it ( storage find) it was what was on it most of the bike completely wrapped and in great condition.
  • + 1
 @wildthingdh1: in an article on mtbr.com about this same bike they announce it ( the prototype) as a 1992. I think that makes more sense.
  • + 1
 @fartymarty: ok I can't figure out how to post a pic from IPad or phone on this site but I did post a pic on the mtbr.com Facebook page with this same article.
  • + 5
 I recall seeing this thing on the cover of MB Action in a grocery store back when I was a teen. I think it gave me chub.
  • + 18
 To be fair, as a teen, you have a chub 24/7.
  • + 2
 1994 the year I bought my first MTB - for the equivalent today of $165. 3x7 LX - Giant ATX Steel frame, canti brakes, Compagnolo wheels and a Ballsitic elastomer fork. I sure do miss it :-)
  • + 1
 Let's see how many errors I can spot...

"three-finger xtr levers" .. .. actually they were properly designated 2-finger levers.... RC just has small hands.

"1 inch steerer tube" .... actually the Foes LTS had 1 1/4 inch evolution size steerer tubes...and they were steel.

As to the fact the restorer taking short cuts on parts... road cranks actually were used on DH bikes at that time... because again...easier to source chainrings that expensive custom order ones for 110 pattern MTB cranks. And there were direct/linear pull brake options in 1994 (Shimano's V-brakes didn't debut until the 1995 race season).
  • + 3
 1 1/4 is correct
Another big error is this signed prototype is a 1992 built early in that year according to other sources. Which makes more sense considering I have a 93.
Cheers
  • + 2
 Pretty sure that fork has a custom 1 1/8" steer tube, hence the bolt on crown. Custom arch too. Probably from the tail end of the Mag-21's lifespan, just before the Judy DH became widely available.
  • + 1
 Some cool retro bikes at this years Sea Otter @RichardCunningham you would have done a review on one of these things back in MBA days? hope to see the m1 collection at the Intense booth and the Specialized retro modern effort.
  • + 1
 I always considered the original Intense M1 and the Cannondale Super V DH Active to be the first true downhill bikes, but I forget about Foes.

I started racing at age 14 in 1996, and most of us were racing DH on our hardtails or XC full-suspension bikes. We were lucky to get down the hill without the bike self-destructing underneath us, and as such, I only took one or two gentle practice runs each race. Not to mention you had to race XC the next day on the same bike, so if you were a broke teenager with parents who didn't understand why you kept "abusing" your bike... you showed up the next day with a rig held together with duct tape, hose clamps, and some seriously out of true rims. But that was part of the fun.

Those amateurs who could afford an actual DH bike in the late 90's really had a massive advantage. If someone racing as a Junior showed up with a Judy DH or (God forbid) an early Boxxer on a 4+ inch bike with any sort of chain retention device... I knew I had my work cut out for me.
  • + 1
 Unobtainium back in the days. Foes, Klein, San Andreas. My Pinups. Nineties - Fireroads of Mt Tam on a Cannondale SM400 with a Scott Fork that was slowly pushing its ends out of the forktubes. My friends Rockshox left a trail of parts.. Then a Kinesis long travel frame and an RST dual crown elastomer. Stuff just crumbled every weekend. Wish I had that Foes back then. What a thrill to see it on display.
  • + 2
 That's funny, my school mate back at the dawn of my MTB life in the mid/late '90s also bagged a Kinesis long travel frame (well, 4/5" I think, haha!) and an RST dual crown fork. 381DH in bright yellow, yeah... Razz

We were like, sooooooooooo plush! Big Grin I pulled off some crazy stuff on that bike which I'd probably be too scared to do now! Just felt so sweet and solid compared to my Kona with 2" Marzocchi F&R - I would pop bolts out of the Zocchi's fork crown just jumping down a few steps.
  • + 5
 That is a thing of beauty
  • + 1
 I rode this bike at a bike show. It rode quite well. I remember thinking this is the future of mountain bikes. A few years later my buddy bolted the first generation of Marz z one forks on his Pro flex. The orange four inch version. Formula disk brake in the back . Hope disk brake up front. Both needed adapters. The only thing that slowed down the progression of bikes is the apprehensive nature of the mountain bike consumer. Disk brakes took at least a decade to become popular.
  • + 1
 Opening up the floor .. what bike did people ride in the mid-90's?
My first MTB: 95 GT Timberline. Steel frame with some low-end shimano components; slapped on a Judy XC and put on some serious miles .. (or kilometers, if that's your thing)
  • + 2
 GT LTS. That thing was broken more than it was rideable. 3" of floppy suspension. The RS super deluxe was always blowing up. Wish I still had it though for sh!ts and giggles.
  • + 1
 Pimped out RekTek Titanium - awesome XC racer. Also, a Candy Wild Cherry color Fat Chance Yo Eddy Team prior to that.
  • + 2
 Stumpjumper M2 FS, with an upgrade to a Judy... later with Mountain Springs and a custom aluminum damper cartridge lol
  • + 2
 93' - Cannondale Beast of the East 94' - Stumpjumper M2 94' - S Works M2 Grey ano with carbon Judy and purple and turquoise Kooka and Ringle parts. A dream build when I started working at a shop. 97' - GT STS 1 I put MTB above most everything else in those days, including grocery budget.
  • + 1
 Gt rts. It was so weird to ride. Locked out with each pedal stroke.

Initially had a rs1 on it but saved up and got the Judy a few years later Smile
  • + 1
 91 Scott Sawtooth. Fully rigid, then MAG20s two years later. Oily forks from the start, but it was not important with 46mm travel

Mid 90s AMP B-3, fully ball-burnished, decked out with black Race Face Turbine LP.

'98 Cyclecraft CSP-05 with usable 4" front and aft, in Germany considered an early freerider back then. Sold only in 2012 when I made the mistake of trying a contemporary bike.

As much as I still love those old bikes, I am not so keen on riding one anymore ;-)
  • + 1
 Diamondback V-Link 3.0. Aside from the fact that it only had three inches of travel and a no-name shock in the rear, it was a pretty nice suspension design for the time. Descended well, not a whole lot of bobbing while pedaling, either. It came with a full LX drivetrain, which broke and was replaced with XT. The gray Manitou Mach 5 up front was terrible, the lowers literally fell off one day. Replaced it with the Shaun Palmer Ti model. Bikes have come a long way since then.
  • + 2
 Funny that tokens are used to change air volume, but isn't that a Fox Alp (?) with the threaded air can that you could change volume? I'm sure someone will correct me.
  • + 2
 I've never really understood the tokens thing when external fully adjustable options are so easy to apply.
My fox fork could have a simple screw adjustment but nooo..i have to f about with oil levels in the milliliter ranges. And amongst various death threats from the warranty people lol

I feel like were being "allowed" to play with parts these days. Stepping on designers egos lol
  • + 2
 In 1994 it seems like you could have used a moto design and made it lighter for DH...duel suspended two wheel moto were pretty state if the art at that time.
  • + 3
 as nice as this frame is, Mountain Cycle did it at least 3 years earlier with the San Andreas....
  • + 1
 I think you may be right ????
  • + 4
 Polygon & Marin, Foes want their swing arm back!!!
  • + 0
 Were other full sus before that, I have some pics that took at 1993 worlds but the shock is the difference i could not get any shocks to build my own frame round at that time I do regrete when saw Missy in jeans and tee shirt not having the words to talk to her
  • + 2
 aljoburr, Richards not saying it was the first full susser or DH.
He,s saying possibly first of the Modern DH era.
One of the early editions of MBA magazine 84-85 feature 2 bikes built by Motocrossers (Lawill?).
That were SO, SO ahead of the curve that they were written of as nutters. Who new?

As an aside the same issue, IF i remember rightly. Had a picture of a certain RC with a custom fillet brazed top shelf
hardtail..... On his roof rack AFTER having driven through a Mc D's drive through...... Total right off.
Remember those days RC?
  • + 1
 @XCAussie: I remember that photo, I have a feeling it was an Ibis, possibly with the handjob cable guides, could be getting confused though. I bet RC remembers.
  • + 1
 Not wishing to be *that* guy, but aren't those M900 cranks, and not road cranks? Sweet bike but weirdly behind the times when it came to ball clearance!
  • + 3
 Owner should find a Control Tech Lawwill Leader fork to slap on.
  • + 2
 believe or not still have one of those mag 21 sl in the garage. together with a judy and a mag20
  • + 2
 I saw that bike on a PACIFIC BLUE episode. #BikingFromTheNineties
  • + 1
 Give us geometry figures! Head angle, chain stay, BB height, reach, seat angle, wheel base
  • + 1
 Set to desktop background........... about right ........NOW. Yep... like it
  • + 1
 I'd ride that...... if it was boost 29 turbo disco - Just to keep up with standards though obviously
  • + 2
 that swingarm looks like a mountain cycle
  • + 1
 Sure does!
  • + 1
 I still have one that bike really rocks Foes Racing made in the good old USA
  • + 1
 show one with a foes usd..i wanted this thing so bad back then
  • + 1
 Definitely beauty bike! :3 Wink
  • + 1
 Wow amazing. They could put a man on the moon in the 60's.. LOL
  • + 1
 Looks like the Foes Weasel 2 monocoque I had back in 1999
  • + 1
 Innovation is an art unto itself.
  • + 1
 tioga tension disc ftw
  • + 0
 I see nothing has changed over at foes other than there factory location
  • + 1
 Looks like a Polygon.
  • + 1
 Looks like a Polygon.
  • + 1
 Speed hole!
  • + 11
 Glory hole.
  • + 4
 horizontal water bottle holder. cages are so yesterday.
  • + 2
 Whole frame is a water bottle - ballast to lower the CG as the by-product benefit.
  • + 1
 @jjones1500: Lmfao, nice one.
  • - 3
 #NewBikesRule

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