Jump into Fox: Inside the Forx factory

By Gary Boulanger, US editor | Thursday, August 2, 2007 11.00pm

For many, it doesn't matter whether their bicycle frameset or components are made in the US, UK or Asia. With the global shift to Far East manufacturing, it's becoming rare to find a bicycle company willing to stick it out with in-house manufacturing. Higher labor costs and expensive environmental fees are just two reasons many bike companies have flown the coop to Asia.

Fox Racing Shox, though, chooses to design, manufacture and test its products at its Watsonville, California facility for several reasons, including quality control, intellectual property, and timeliness.

Teams of engineers design the products here. Components, including all the various uppers, lowers, steer tubes, washers, springs, set screws, and caps, flow through the factory in a just-in-time procedure to keep customers happy and cash flow positive. The same engineers also design and make all fixtures to be used in the manufacturing and assembly process.

Fox also enjoys its status as a custom fork and shock maker. With full control of its product development and manufacturing, Fox has chosen to offer custom lengths, offset and tunings to companies like Trek, Rocky Mountain and Gary Fisher, to name a few. Trek's suspension manager Jose Gonzalez, based in Santa Clarita, California, works closely with Fox.

The Tour

The strawberry fields stretch as far as the eye can see around Watsonville, California. The climate and the soil are equally fertile for the organic farms nestled in this Pacific coastal town of nearly 50,000, 95 miles south of San Francisco in Santa Cruz County. This is the home of Fox Racing Shox, a privately held company started in 1974 by Bob Fox. A factory tour by Fox's marketing manager Elayna Caldwell-Grim shed light on the inner workings of the very popular suspension fork and rear shock manufacturer.

Fox Racing Shox history

1974: California dirt bike fan Geoff Fox puts his PhD in physics to good use by starting Moto-X Fox, a small distribution business for European motocross bikes.

1974: Geoff's older brother Bob, working in a friend's garage off hand-drawn specs, creates the first Fox AirShox shock absorbers, fitted on a Maico dirtbike.

1976: Kent Howerton wins the 500cc US National Championship on a factory Husqvarna fitted with Fox AirShox.

1977: Geoff Fox starts his own pro motocross team, kitted out in Fox racing gear. Team Moto-X Fox riders place fifth, sixth and seventh in the competitive AMA 125cc National Championship series.

1977: Meanwhile, brother Bob starts his own company, Fox Factory, Inc. All Fox AirShox products are distributed through Geoff's Moto-X Fox.

1980: Geoff Fox reorganises his company, and Fox Racing becomes a major player in the US motocross clothing industry. Fox Racing rider Mark Barnett wins the company's first National Championship.

1981: Fox's reputation grows quickly. In the company's third year at the Indy 500, 14 out of the race's 33 cars are equipped with Fox Racing Shox.

1982: Brad Lackey wins Fox Racing's first World Motocross Championship, and Eddie Lawson wins the AMA Superbike Championship using Fox's state-of-the-art Twin-Clicker MX shocks.

1987: Fox branches out into the snowmobile market, offering a coil-over shock.

1993: Cannondale Bicycles use Fox's shocks on their first line of dual suspension mountain bikes.

2001: Fox enters the Mountain Bike front suspension market with Fox Forx.

2002: Brian Lopes wins the UCI Mountain Cross World Championships on Fox Forx Float 100 RLC.

2007: Jean Louis Schlesser races to 3rd place in the Dakar Rallye with FOX Off-Road shocks. Chris Burandt wins Winter X games Snowmobile Freestyle event with his FOX FLOAT equipped Arctic Cat. Marc Beaumont of Team MBUK wins first World Cup DH race for the FOX 40. Darren Berrecloth wins the overall Qashqai urban challenge on his 2008 36 TALAS RC2.

© BikeRadar 2007

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