Foes is a small outfit nestled at the base of the Sierra
Madre Mountains in Pasadena, California. The trails
right outside its door are some of our favorites for
testing bikes, and it’s not uncommon for us to run into Foes
employees out testing their new prototypes.
The F275 is Foes’ first experiment with the “tweener”
27-inch format. Foes has a history of building quality gravity bikes, and its trailbikes are influenced by all that high-speed experience. We tested the Shaver 26 (May 2012) and
Shaver 29 (December 2012) and found both to be excellent
examples of the Foes magic, combining performance, durability and unbelievable craftsmanship. While this new frame
borrows some technology from those winners, the F275 is an
WHO IS IT MADE FOR?
The F275 isn’t a lightweight cross-country steed, nor is it
a gravity junky. This is a long-travel trailbike that exploits
the advantages of the larger wheels. Every bike has its design
limitations. The large-wheeled 29ers are limited to shorter
travel, and 26ers simply can’t roll over obstacles with the
ease of their big-wheeled brothers. The F275 splits the difference, delivering a long-travel feel with large-diameter wheels.
This is a bike for an aggressive trail rider, plain and simple.
WHAT IS IT MADE FROM?
The aluminum frame features unique shaping that’s sure
to get noticed on the trail. The clamshell construction means
Foes can be especially aggressive with its shaping, because
the top tube is made in two individual pieces and then welded together in Foes’ Pasadena workshop with a long seam we affectionately refer to as the “zipper.”
The F275 features a single-pivot suspension design with 5.7–6.3 inches of travel. The frame is specifically designed to run
27-inch wheels and uses a 12x142-millimeter rear axle, tapered
head tube and 73-millimeter bottom bracket to get the job done.
The frame sports a wild paint job and features ISCG-05 tabs for
mounting a chainguide.
WHICH COMPONENTS STAND OUT?
The frame’s craftsmanship is outstanding. While many off-the-shelf bikes have a disposable feel, the F275 feels like a custom hot rod built for the long haul. The SRAM X9 drivetrain
components are workhorses.
HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The rear-suspension setup is ridiculously simple. The
low leverage ratio is easier to tune than temperamental,
high-leverage ratios. It takes less air pressure, and merely
getting close to the ideal P.S.I. will deliver a great ride.
It is a real advantage for Clydesdale riders who may
never get this great a feeling from a high-leverage
system. We set up our test bike with roughly 35
percent sag (since we really wanted to work the
suspension) and hit the trails.
Single-pivot suspension designs
are notorious for pedal bob, but you wouldn’t
know it pedaling the F275. Whether you credit
the shock valving or the scissor-style rocker
design, this bike pedals quite well. While we
found ourselves using the shock’s CTD lever from
time to time, we also found ourselves forgetting to
flip it because the bike pedaled so well. If you prefer a
set-it-and-forget-it setup, leave the lever in the “Trail” mode
and set the air pressure a little soft.
The F275 is a bit of a pig on paper, and we felt it
on the climbs. We found ourselves having to “pull the rip cord”
and go to the small chainring on climbs we typically hammer
out in the big ring. That said, the F275 is a bit like a tractor—
while it might be a little slow going uphill, the low gears will
keep the tires gripping as long as you can keep the cranks spinning. Short and technical climbs are a blast on this bike, but
long, uphill grinds require a fit rider.
Foes’ experience building gravity machines is
evident in the F275. The frame is stiff, and the suspension is
active and plush right when you need it to be. The bike offers
a suspension curve that handles drops with a controlled feel,
straddling the line between progressive and bottomless.
We experienced some brake jack with the F275
(where the rear suspension firms up under braking), but Foes
has obviously done its homework and found ways to minimize
it. We were only able to detect this firming on small stutter
bumps when approaching a corner. On steeper descents, when
we really needed it, the suspension held its own.
The head angle on the F275 is steeper than on
other 6-inch-travel bikes. As a result, this thing whips around
switchbacks quicker than any bike we’ve tested in recent memory. In high-speed corners, however, it’s not as confidence-inspiring as it should be. If you frequently ride steep and fast trails, go for an angle-adjustable headset, which would kick out the
head angle just enough to move it into the sweet spot.
TRICKS, UPGRADES OR TIPS?
The Hayes Prime brakes provide excellent modulation, a
consistent lever feel, and remarkably quiet braking perfor-
mance; however, the organic brake-pad compound didn’t
deliver enough bite for the trails we rode. For more power,
switch to the metallic pads. They’ll provide much quicker
and stronger stopping.
We broke several spokes on the SunRingle Charger wheels
during our testing. Since the F275 comes as a frame and
shock only, riders have the advantage of choosing their own
build kit. While the warranty department was more than
happy to send us replacements, we still had to shelve the
bike while waiting for the UPS man to show up with our new
The Schwalbe Super Gravity-series tires are just that—
gravity tires. A lighter tire would have helped significantly in
the climbing department, but we did love ripping this thing
on the rocky and gnarly descents around SoCal. With 27-inch
wheels, tire choice makes a huge difference, so choose your
The F275 isn’t a light bike, but that is the price you pay for
a bike as capable and durable as this one. The larger wheels
allow this bike to float over obstacles of all sizes. The plush
suspension and tried-and-true geometry take full advantage
of the best characteristics of the “tweener” wheels. The Foes
F275 is welcome in the wrecking crew’s fleet any time.