Brent Foes has applied his ability with fabrication and craftsmanship to bring innovations to off-road cycling through simplicity, with products that stand the test of time and the riders that have chosen his frames. “Made in the USA his way” is his approach. He was not the first to use hydro forming for his bike frames, but was the first to bring a 6-inch travel mountain bike to the market. Born in Pasadena in 1954, Brent came into a world of customizing and creation as a third-generation furniture maker. In 1985 Brent started working in the off-road truck industry. He built race vehicles for Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Nissan under the name Foes Fabrication, honing the skills in metal fabrication that would lead to the development by 1992 of his bicycle division, Foes Racing.
In early 1991 Brent’s brother-in-law brought him a Mountain Bike Action Buyers Guide. Seeing the full-suspension bicycles that were starting to emerge at that time, Brent felt he could scale down the ideas he had been using for off-road truck chassis to create a better full-suspension mountain bike. The trend of the time was short-travel suspension for light weight bikes. Brent thought that two or three inches of travel would be not enough for true off-road suspension performance. He wanted something simple, but stout enough to handle well the conditions that mountain bikes were meant to endure. He moved away from traditional tubes, travel, and suspension designs and built his first prototype LTS in late 1991 around a 6-inch travel, single-pivot concept. At the time there wasn’t a fork on the market that could match the bike’s rear wheel travel, but Brent was able to use the front suspension products of the time including Marzocchi 500 series forks, then Answer Pro forks and Rock Shox Mag 21 forks to make his designs work. This led Brent to making his F1 forks that had suitable travel for his designs.
The main triangle of the first LTS was made from wood blanks. The aluminum sheets were hand formed around the wood, creating a V shape that would become iconic in Brent’s designs. Staying with this single pivot design and subtlety refining it through the years, he was able to find the sweet spot for what is now the norm on modern suspension mountain bikes: six inches of rear travel and a single chainring setup.
In early 1992 while Brent was still testing the first LTS prototypes, John Ker of Mountain Bike Action photographed him in the San Gabriel Mountains. The photo of that first LTS made it into the MBA Buyer’s Guide that year. When that magazine was released, Brent started getting calls from people in the cycling industry hoping to buy his frames. At the time he had not been sure if this was the path he wanted to go, but the response to Ker’s photo, with its brief caption containing contact information, made Brent decide to launch Foes Racing. He felt he could bring value and a better frame concept to the bike industry. He and his small company embarked on a mission to bring innovation and high quality through craftsmanship to mountain bikers all over the world.
Written by Bobby Acuna and Brent Foes