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 fastRussell Eich / Immediate Media
Foundry Firetower XT spec overview
Full carbon frame
RockShox Reba RL, 100mm
Shimano XT 1×11 drivetrain
Shimano SLX discs
DT Swiss M1700 wheels
Schwalbe Nobby Nic, 29×2.25
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 FiretowerRussell Eich / Immediate Media
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 bracketRussell Eich / Immediate Media
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 ridingRussell Eich / Immediate Media
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.