I finished the Foes Mixer Enduro “On Review” article by promising to answer the question of whether the new mixed wheel (29″ up front and 27.5″ in the rear) bike is a “gimmick or a game changer. ” I won’t make you read this entire article to get the answer to that question. I will tell you right now, without reservation, hesitation, or mitigation, that the Foes Mixer Enduro is definitely a game changer. If you are looking for the world’s best enduro bike and you trust my judgment, go ahead and contact Timberline Bikes or Foes USA right now to get your own example of this magnificent beast in your own bike rack. If you’re skeptical of such a bold statement or curious as to what specifically makes this bike such a quantum leap forward in this age of outstanding enduro bikes, keep reading.
The First Revelation: Cornering
About three miles into my first ride, I became aware of the game-changing nature of the Mixer Enduro. As I dove into a sharp corner far too hot, the bike, seemingly of its own volition, tightened its turning radius and shot out of the other end of the turn without having to bleed speed in the process. I then knew why this dedicated enduro bike had been winning downhill races. The key to winning races is not how fast you charge into corners, but how fast you exit those corners and carry that momentum through the next section.
While the Mixer Enduro will fly down wide open chunk with abandon, it is equally adept at holding that speed through the tight and twisty. I comfortably carried speed in tight quarters that I wouldn’t normally be so comfortable with on a twitchy cross country bike actually designed for such things. A rider could naturally expect a bike of mixed design to be a compromise between the features. The best a rider could hope for would be a mix of the best of both worlds. Somehow, the Mixer Enduro goes beyond and provides even better than 27.5″ cornering on a bike for which the other half is the supposedly less maneuverable 29″. The mix works even better than advertised, as well as far better than expected. On my very first MIxer Enduro ride, I hit personal bests on both Captain Jack’s and The Chutes, two of Colorado Springs’ most famous twisty, turny, downhill routes.
The Second Revelation: Hucking
At age 51, I tend to keep both wheels on the ground most of the time, and when I leave mother earth, it’s not always on purpose. In fact, having not started mountain biking until I was 35, I was already past the usual hucking phase of life. All that changed on the Mixer Enduro. This bike practically hucks itself. It begs to be launched off of any and every huckable feature on or near the trail. I find this rather counterintuitive: I would think that the larger front wheel would want to nose over in the air and invite the dreaded endo… however I found the opposite to be the case. The front wheel stayed aloft nicely and the bike practically autopiloted into perfect two-point landings. I re-rode trails just so I could huck features I usually roll.
The real confirmation of the confidence-building performance came when riding trails new to me. Upon flying high-speed into an unexpected huckable feature, rather than execute my usual panic braking and then slow roll over, I let caution go to the wind as I took to the air. The Foes Mixer suddenly made me three decades younger.
The Third Revelation: Climbing?
When climbing, especially steep, tight switchbacks, the Mixer Enduro’s hefty frame and hard-core enduro geometry, including the slack head angle and long wheelbase, make their presence known. However, any climbing weakness is only relative to cross-country or lightweight trail bikes. The Mixer Enduro climbs as well as any other 6″ travel dedicated enduro bike that I’ve ridden, and that’s on smooth climbs.
When the climbs get rocky, that’s yet another place where the Mixer Enduro outshines its peers. While my first preference in bike categories is enduro bikes, they all share one annoying design compromise: in getting low and slack to rail high speed corners, they drop the bottom bracket to the point that technical climbs inevitably lead to frequent, annoying pedal strikes. Not so with the Enduro Mixer: the large front wheel lifts the bottom bracket just enough to all but eliminate the dreaded climbing pedal strike. Without the need to constantly pick a line and ratchet pedal strokes on technical climbs, I found myself making climbs faster than on a lighter carbon fiber enduro bike. Overall, this is the most amazing revelation of all: that the same bike can simultaneously corner like a low-slung downhill bike and tech climb like the most agile trail bike.
I initially found the Mixer Enduro to require a little extra care and effort in extended rock gardens. The combination of the big front wheel and the enduro-length wheelbase added challenge to low speed maneuvering. It seemed an acceptable tradeoff, though the bike really comes alive at speed . . . and it picks up speed fast. The natural acceleration exhibited by the Mixer Enduro can take the rider from the crest of a hill to maximum warp in no time. This was in itself a little disturbing, but that stable ride and crazy cornering ability quickly allowed me to get comfortable with speed I was never willing to carry on any other bike.
As for that low speed maneuverability? On my third ride, I approached one particularly problematic rock garden which throws me more often than not. I floated through on the Mixer Enduro without fuss. After that time, the Mixer Enduro handled such obstacles as well or better than any enduro bike I’ve thrown a leg over. Once my muscle memory had settled in, the bike became the perfect companion regardless of terrain.
Building a Mixer Enduro
I won’t spend much time talking about how the Timberline build kit (described in the “On Review” article) performed. After all, it’s pretty vanilla, with parts chosen for the greatest performance to cost ratio. As such, it’s not loaded with crazy light carbon or bits you see in full page glossy ads. But this is how you can get a top-performing, bombproof, USA-made enduro rig at a 4K price point. It is loaded with dependable parts which are up to the rigors of being ridden the way this frame is capable of being ridden. Of course, the Mixer Enduro can be built up any way you choose, and the owner of Timberline and Mixer developer has his personal rig well under 29lbs–including pedals and dropper post–without sacrificing durability.
I have had the good fortune of riding the absolute cream of the crop in endruo bikes this year, and was very impressed with top-of-the-line offerings from the most bike lust-worthy names in the business. This included super light carbon fiber frames and exotic build kits. Each and every one was amazing in its own way, but none truly stood out above the others… until now. The Foes Mixer Enduro has an incredibly wide performance envelope being, in my estimation, head and shoulders above any other bike as an endruo rig, and being a bike which has also found the top of the podium in legitimate downhill races. The fact that it can be had at a price point well less than those other bikes only makes these revelations even more amazing.
So why would anybody possibly not want this bike? I can think of two reasons:
- You are more concerned with counting grams than grins.
- You would like to hang on to that excuse for not being first to the bottom of the hill.
Distribution of the Mixer Enduro is only via Timberline Bikes or, for those in Southern California, direct from Foes. The Mixer also comes in a slightly lighter and steeper Trail version for the less downhill-oriented. I hope I get the opportunity to test one of those as well–I have no doubt the mixed wheel concept will do equally amazing things for a trail bike.