Foundry Firetower XT first ride review

Pure focus on cross country

Remember XC? Foundry does. The cycling industry is always evolving, adapting, and changing but one thing is for sure, most mountain bikers got their first taste of dirt while riding cross country. So if your style, passion and/or trails have a decidedly speed-oriented theme, basically when the name of the game is cross country, Foundry has the go-fast answer in their Firetower XT.

The trails around Truckee, CA were dry, loose and very fast
The trails around Truckee, CA were dry, loose and very fast

Foundry Firetower XT spec overview

  • Full carbon frame
  • RockShox Reba RL, 100mm
  • Shimano XT 1x11 drivetrain
  • Shimano SLX discs
  • DT Swiss M1700 wheels
  • Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 29x2.25
  • Ritchey saddle, seatpost, bar, stem

Foundry Firetower XT ride impression

When compared to trendy all-mountain full-suspension bikes, this rig is unapologetic in its XC focus: it's steep, twitchy and aggressive. The handlebars are low, the top tube's long and the saddle is high, with nary a dropper post in sight. Make no mistake, the Firetower puts you in the classic XC pose. 

Want XC speed? You can find some right here with Foundry's Firetower
Want XC speed? You can find some right here with Foundry's Firetower

The 100mm RockShox Reba on the front has skinny 32mm stanchions and feels like it only gets full travel if you smack something seriously hard. The 29in DT Swiss wheels are shod with narrow 2.25in Nobby Nic tires, again ideal for the light and fast theme here. Shimano's XT drivetrain and SLX discs round out the spec and were excellent as usual.

The ride was sharp with no room for pilot errors, and the word "plush" was nowhere to be found, but that's a good thing, it's what this bike is all about

Onto the riding. I climbed up an access road before turning onto some climbing singletrack. The Firetower reacted as a proper XC chassis should, delivering my power into forward motion with zero fuss and stiff efficiency. The only thing holding this carbon hardtail back was my leg power. Once the trail started heading down, it was like going back on a time machine, albeit one with a much improved ride. 

The aggressive climbing position required pure focus when descending. After spending most of the season riding slacker, more trail-oriented machines with dropper posts, having the saddle up between my legs, and the bars down low (with a pretty narrow 720mm width) definitely had my attention. Yet after a few grade reversals, and a berm or two, it became clear that the Firetower wasn't here to buck me off, it was here to skim the ground, accelerate out of corners, and bob and weave through trees. All more or less the perfect traits of a short track or XC race whip. 

As I settled into the XC flow, it also became clear that the Firetower did a fine job of muting vibrations. Thankfully the full carbon frame took a bit of sting out of the trail and didn't rattle my eyeballs in a misconstrued notion of efficiency. Make no mistake the ride was sharp with no room for pilot errors, and the word "plush" was nowhere to be found, but that's a good thing, it's what this bike is all about.

The single ring XT crank spins on a press fit bottom bracket
The single ring XT crank spins on a press fit bottom bracket

Foundry Firetower XT pricing and availability

US$3,695 and available now, UK and Australian pricing unavailable

Foundry Firetower XT vs. the competition

XC race bikes share a lot of similarities, 29in wheels, carbon frames, steep angles, weight savings at all costs. The differences lie in being able to maintain your power, and therefore your speed over the terrain. The Firetower certainly felt fast but I simply didn't have enough time on it to compare it to other lung-testing XC machines. 

Getting back to the basics, the Firetower is all about cross country riding
Getting back to the basics, the Firetower is all about cross country riding

Foundry Firetower XT early verdict

Foundry bills the Firetower XT as an XC-race hardtail, plain and simple. After my ride it was crystal clear that Foundry wasn't joking around, the Firetower is built for speed, and as every cross country racer will tell you "races are won and lost on the uphills." With that in mind, Foundry has the Firetower's design just right. 

Russell Eich

Tech Writer
Russell fell head over heels in love with bikes in the '90s, and has been involved in the bike industry ever since. Between wrenching in bike shops, guiding professionally, and writing about bikes, Russell has honed an appreciation for what works, gained knowledge of what doesn't, and can barely contain his enthusiasm for what comes next. His two-wheeled passion continues in the Rocky Mountains high above Boulder, Colorado.
  • Age: 38
  • Height: 6'3"/190cm
  • Weight: 175lb/79kg
  • Waist: 34in/86cm
  • Chest: 42in / 107cm
  • Discipline: Mountain, road, cyclocross
  • Preferred Terrain: High altitudes, forgotten singletracks, bike parks, roads without cars
  • Current Bikes: Custom Meriwether steel hardtail, Specialized S-Works Enduro 29, Kona Jake the Snake, Trek 69er, and a bunch more
  • Dream Bike: Yeti SB5c, Intense Tracer 275C, Black Cat custom road
  • Beer of Choice: Gin + Tonic
  • Location: Rollinsville, CO, USA

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