This ones going to be tough to beat
Brent Foes totally revamped the DH-Mono downhill chassis for his own team–and the prototypes were immediately requested by an elite group of sponsored racers like Missy Giove, who have the freedom to choose any bike they desire. Ten copies were initially produced at Foes. Nine immediately hit the National and World Cup circuit, and we got our hands on the tenth one for a day of testing at Snow Summit: the home of the last NORBA bash at Big Bear Lake, California.
DH-MONO 2002 HIGHLIGHTS
Brent designed an entirely new monocoque front section that incorporates a taper-butted Easton downtube. Together, the 6061-alloy aluminum parts reduce the weight of the new frame significantly–one pound, to be exact–while adding to the rigidity of its already stiff predecessor.
The DH-Monos single-pivot rear suspension would normally hop around under hard braking (a negative inherent to monoshock swingarms). Last year, the Foes team developed a floating rear brake to keep the rear suspension active full-time. Team swingarms also had 12mm thru-axles and a beefy derailleur hanger/stop nut feature. All these improvements will carry forward to production models in 2002.
The Foes Chassis retains the frame geometry that proved successful this season, but there are more features to be discussed that are beyond the chassis. The first is the Curnutt damper–a five-hundred-dollar option with a bad-looking titanium spring that spikes up the Foes acceleration and suspension performance in a big way. The new chassis was specifically designed with the Curnutt shock in mind, but it comes stock with the race-proven, Fox RC Piggyback. The Foes team however, has been racing the Curnutt shock this season.
WHAT ABOUT THAT FORK?
On the subject of suspension, Foes also revamped his F-1 XL fork for 2002. The travel has been extended to 7.5 inches. An external rebound clicker has been added, and a floating compensator-piston keeps the fork oil separate from the atmosphere. The Curnutt valve with its external pneumatic compression adjustment has been adapted to the fork , and will be an option for next year. The three-spring system has been replaced by a single coil, and titanium fork springs are in the works. Foes retained the 30mm thru-axle feature as well as the air assist Shreader valve in the left leg.
Foes gives you three shock positions that alter the head angle and bottom bracket height. Unlike most downhill frame makers, Foes offers the DH-Mono in three sizes. The medium-sized frames numbers are as follows:
Top tube length: 22.5 inches
Bottom bracket height: 14.75 inches
Head angle (center position): 66.25 degrees
Seat angle: 58 degrees
Rear wheel travel: 8.5 inches (With Fox RC shock), 9 inches (with the Curnutt damper).
Weight, as tested: 43.5 pounds
RIDING THE 2002 DH-MONO
With Brent Foes and Shock designer, Charles Curnutt Jr. acting as my team wrenches, I spent an entire day burning up Snow Summits numerous downhill runs. During the course of the session, We installed both the Fox and Curnutt dampers. and experimented with different spring and damping rates that emulated some of the team members setups.
After a couple of warm up runs, the time came to push the Foes around a little. There is a great deal of forgiveness in the new bikes handling. a great deal of that margin stems from the Curnutt shock technology, but even with the Fox damper in place, you get the feeling that the bike can save you from about any error that you could commit, short of deliberately running into a tree.
Where the latest Foes shows the most improvement is in its cornering ability. It gives you an intimate sense of exactly what the tires are doing. This allows you to rail around sketchy off-camber turns as if they were banked. Because you know exactly when the tires break loose, it only takes a twitch of your shoulder to reign the rubber back on line.
In the air, the new chassis tends to stay low and flat–great for racing, but perhaps a little less showy than some like it. The suspension levels about any bump under two feet. This means you really need a run at a monster ramp to borrow a piece of the sky aboard the new Foes. Landing is always controllable–the fork and shock feel bottomless. The fast way down is to keep your wheels on the ground as much as possible, and this chassis knows it well.
You don?t have to move all over the bike to make mid-course corrections–or straighten up the bike in the air. A little body English goes a long way on the DH-Mono. This is a good thing, because its nine-inch-travel rear end will send the tire grinding against the seat of your pants if you move too far aft. You can handle almost any situation from the center of the Foes–which makes it a very fast transition when the time comes to pedal.
On the subject of pedaling, the Foes had the dubious reputation of being one of the slowest peddlers on the DH circuit. That will be ancient history come 2002–the new chassis pedals like a freeriding sled. That is to say: It can actually be pedaled to the point where you feel like you are accelerating. With the Curnutt shock installed, you can even hammer out of the saddle with reasonable results. All things equal–the newfound pedaling prowess of the team-issue Foes alone can put you on the podium.
MBAS FINAL WORD
That is all we can say. The team bike was spirited off to the next national a few days after our test session, but Brent promises that hell get us another for extended thrashing in the near future. We are not sure if further changes will be made before the team bike makes it into production, but it is hard to believe that the bike we rode could get any better.
Still hungry? Call Foes Racing at (626) 683-8368, or check out their website at www.foesracing.com