’06 Fox Racewear

Usually when thinking of Fox Racing, it brings to mind the rolling oak-covered hills surrounding their home base south of San Jose, CA. But there’s also a new impression…a home base that’s a whole lot closer to the TransWorld MX offices, since Fox has recently set up a satellite office in the heart of So. Cal’s surfwear industry. That’s where we stopped in to check out their new gear for next year.

The new office is rather low-key. Don’t expect a slick mirrored glass corporate showpiece. The Newport Beach offices house their catalog design, web design, and some of their design crew. It also has a photo studio, and a sample room that could stock a decent-sized retail outlet, and a conference room which is where we sat down with Mark Finley, Sandy Egger, and Warren Johnson from Fox to check out the new goods.

Racepants

Pulling a pants-equipped mannequin up onto the table, Mark showed how they’d redesigned the area across the back of the pants (dubbed the rear yoke) to try and keep it off the seat. “That’s an issue on some of the pants where you get the rubber too low, it grabs the seat, and pulls the pants down.” With the redesigned yoke, the pants can now stretch independently in the saddle area as a rider assumed the ride position, while letting the yoke area stay higher up on the rider’s back.

Mark continued, “We’ve seen it with other brands where that panel also tends to tighten up when you get into the ride position, so we added stretch on either side of the rear yoke. This allows it to work really free, and doesn’t tighten up when you get into the ride position.  That was one of the big changes to both the Strafer and 360 pant.”

The second feature Fox added were longer burn guards to the inside of each leg. Mark explained, “We noticed last year that even though we increased the burn guard length, it still wasn’t long enough for taller riders. So that’s been a big change as well.”

Continuing on, Mark said, “Another big change is that we went to a natural cuff. Basically there’s no cuff on the bottom of the pant any more. We’re calling it a natural cuff because it doesn’t just hang in your boot, It has stretch in the back and we’ve also added stretch to the front of the cuff. It still gets tight around your knee braces so the pants don’t pull up inside your boot. We’ve seen where other brands where they were so loose in the boot that you would end up getting a lot of baggy fabric around your knee area. It’s still fairly tight around your ankle, and tight around your braces. It just doesn’t slide up in the boot. It’s also given us a much cleaner look around the bottom of the pant. It’s a new look that we wanted. It came out really good. We’ve actually increased the length of the pant by the two inches that you would normally have with the cuff, so the pant is actually the same length as last year.”

“The last thing we wanted to go after was a light material behind the knee to let this pant close up as you get into the ride position. So we went with a stretch twill material. It’s pretty durable, heavy, with a lot of stretch, It allows plenty of room for knee braces, and gives you a really light feel behind your knee. In the past we’ve had a lot of excess nylon on the outside of the knee area, and when you get into the ride position it really bunches up, so now it closes up really cleanly.”

After musing on how they spend a lot of time designing for knee braces, when a solid percentage of riders either don’t use them, or opt for regular knee guards, Mark said, “On both of our high-end pants, we really sculpt our knees. They are very fitted compared to some of the other styles out there that just hang loose over a knee brace. They really do contour and fit the knee braces really well. The new material will also pull tight around a knee brace, or a knee guard, but you still have plenty of stretch in the back.”

Of course, function was the focus of lots of the w updates, but they haven’t forgotten the fashion side of the pants. Mark continued with the list of changes. “On the side of the 360 and Strafer pants, we really wanted to give them a new look so we’ve taken the side Spandex and really pointed it toward the front and it really comes toward the center of the knee now, rather than the old school where it was just straight down the side. It’s given it a fresh new look.”

“The design guys have been really good at integrating the logos this year as well. Tying them into the side spandex, rather than just slapping a big fat logo on there.  They’re very thin, super lightweight. We’ve also gone to stitching down our logos this year. We’ve gone away from all the direct inject stuff. We love that technology It’s great on shoes and great on gloves, but we’ve really gotten away from it on the high-end racepants. We want these things to last forever and be bulletproof.”

“With the 360 we’ve trickled down a lot of the same technical features into the Strafer line, but we offer a completely different look with the logo and side spandex. It’s really a different style and a different look for our Fox customers. In the same price range, $139 for the Strafer, and $149 for the 360.”

The different lines also offer unique styling. “You’ve got the F-head-X logo versus the Fox head on the Strafer, so you get the same technical features, but a completely different look, so you’re not looking like every other guy wearing Fox on the line.”

“The vented Strafer has an even more extensive venting than in the past. We’ve taken the Strafer, added mesh panels to the front, but for this season we’ve also added mesh to the back of the pant. We’ve got a nice big mesh in the rear that’s not in the ride position. There’s Cordura in the saddle area, but venting to keep the pant really cool.”

The last style is our Blitz style. Like I said before, we want to give the Fox guys different styling. This is based on the Strafer pant. What we’ve done is gone asymmetrical with logos. So you’ve got a nice split Fox head on one side, and you go to the standard Fox logo on the other side. It’s a symmetrical construction, but asymmetrical graphics. That gives us three different styles for the Fox customer to choose from.

Jerseys

Of course Fox offers a full line of jerseys at different price points, but Mark was especially proud to show off the Strafer Aero jersey. “It’s a full mesh polyester, it’s the best solution for hot riding days. Ricky and James have both worn this quite a few times.”

“The Flex Air is our highest end jersey in the line. It has lots of cut-and-sew paneling, but there are also welded panels, just to get rid of the seams. It’s called sew-free technology, so no stitching. We’ve actually done tear tests on this where the fabric will tear before the bonding does. It’s very durable. On higher end jerseys, like the higher-end pants, it’s all about paneling and air flow and articulation. That’s what we’ve built into the Flex Air. There’s a huge mesh panel on the back, micro mesh on the side. The sleeves are articulated, pre-curved for the ride position. That’s what you get out of the higher-end jerseys. More airflow, more articulation,  better fabrics.”

Gloves

Mark also passed around samples of the different gloves in the line, so we could see the differences. “We definitely have a wide glove range and there’s a reason for it. You guys probably al have your preference, whether it’s a double-layer palm, no padding whatsoever, RC prefers the Flexair, which is single layer, no padding at all. You’ve got to be riding quite a bit to run this style. You’ve got to have some calluses built up. The idea with this style is really minimal protection on top of the glove. Just lots of airflow, no padding on the palm, the closest feel to the bike possible. That’s what designates the Flexair as our high end glove. It’s really for that top high-end rider.

“The next glove in the line is the tried and true Pawtector. It’s our best-selling high-end gloves. The difference in this style is that it does have the double-layer Clarino palm. It gives you more durability, more padding on the grips, more protection over the knuckle area, and more protection over the knuckles.”

“The new Strafer glove replaces the Solo in our line. This is what Bubba runs. The difference between the Strafer and the other styles is that we have internal padding on the palm. The idea with the Strafer is that it pulls together the whole Strafer line.”

Helmets

After introducing their V3 helmet early in ’05, this year, the new Fox helmets receive mostly cosmetic updates. Mark told us, “The graphics on the V3 Blitz helmet go all the way into the mouthpiece now.”

“The whitewall started out as a flat finish helmet, but we were so over flat colors that we wanted to try something different here, so we went ahead and made it a gloss.”

The new graphics look good, and look more like custom-painted helmets, but according to Sean, “We haven’t really done any custom-painted helmets for the Nationals. Ricky’s been wearing the stock helmets, except for the red/white one like he wore at the Las Vegas Supercross.”

Girl’s Gear

Fox introduced their Girl’s line last year, and had been very happy with the results. In Mark’s words, “The girl’s line for us has been killing it. Last year we had two prints and two solids, and we’re doing the same thing for this year. We’ve also given them their own logo. Usually they’d just get a men’s style logo and girl’s colors, this year they get their own logo, their own colors, and own graphics. It’s a growing part of the market for us. We also wanted to make sure we had some gear that wasn’t so feminine, so we’ve got two solid colorways in the line. It’s for those girls who aren’t feeling as fluffy as the star print. It’s worked out really well for us. With this line, a lot of the girls downstairs in Morgan Hill ride quite a bit,  so we got their input on the colorways and graphics.”

Wrapping Up

Overall, we dug the look of the new gear, and for a closer look, you can check out the photo galleries of the new categories that accompany this story.

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“The next glove in the line is the tried and true Pawtector. It’s our best-selling high-end gloves. The difference in this style is that it does have the double-layer Clarino palm. It gives you more durability, more padding on the grips, more protection over the knuckle area, and more protection over the knuckles.”

“The new Strafer glove replaces the Solo in our line. This is what Bubba runs. The difference between the Strafer and the other styles is that we have internal padding on the palm. The idea with the Strafer is that it pulls together the whole Strafer line.”

Helmets

After introducing their V3 helmet early in ’05, this year, the new Fox helmets receive mostly cosmetic updates. Mark told us, “The graphics on the V3 Blitz helmet go all the way into the mouthpiece now.”

“The whitewall started out as a flat finish helmet, but we were so over flat colors that we wanted to try something different here, so we went ahead and made it a gloss.”

The new graphics look good, and look more like custom-painted helmets, but according to Sean, “We haven’t really done any custom-painted helmets for the Nationals. Ricky’s been wearing the stock helmets, except for the red/white one like he wore at the Las Vegas Supercross.”

Girl’s Gear

Fox introduced their Girl’s line last year, and had been very happy with the results. In Mark’s words, “The girl’s line for us has been killing it. Last year we had two prints and two solids, and we’re doing the same thing for this year. We’ve also given them their own logo. Usually they’d just get a men’s style logo and girl’s colors, this year they get their own logo, their own colors, and own graphics. It’s a growing part of the market for us. We also wanted to make sure we had some gear that wasn’t so feminine, so we’ve got two solid colorways in the line. It’s for those girls who aren’t feeling as fluffy as the star print. It’s worked out really well for us. With this line, a lot of the girls downstairs in Morgan Hill ride quite a bit,  so we got their input on the colorways and graphics.”

Wrapping Up

Overall, we dug the look of the new gear, and for a closer look, you can check out the photo galleries of the new categories that accompany this story.