Earlier this year the guys at Merritt mentioned that they were working on a signature tire for Brian Foster. Of course my ears instantly perked up and I began wondering what they’d come up with. They were being tight lipped on the details but said that it would be quite a bit different than your traditional tire geared for the trails. That statement popped into my head numerous times over the next few months as I tried to visualize what BF’s tire would look like. My guess was that it would be some kind of low profile knobby since trails and concrete are BF’s terrains of choice. As far as being different than other trails tires, I was at a loss.
The first samples of the tire were done just in time for Interbike and actually shipped straight from the factory to Merritt’s hotel at the show. I just so happened to be in the room when they showed up and there was a palpable excitement in the air as Sean ripped into the packaging. What he pulled out was absolutely nothing like what I was thinking!
Brian’s signature tire is a true departure from the dirt tire status quo. Sean’s thinking when he designed it was that long gone are the days of riding loose or wet trails (gasp, we did used to do that back in the day). The riding surface of trails these days are smoother than some concrete parks and you’re in some serious shit if you get caught riding them wet. Brian’s tire was designed with this in mind and the result is a tire with a relatively smooth center section that is bordered by groups of small blocks that are raised ever so slightly to give you some extra bite when you need it. Below the main tread there’s a row of large blocks that serve as protection for the sidewall if for some reason you find yourself getting your grind on.
I’ve been running one of the sample FT1 tires for the past few days and I love it. It’s noticeably faster than what I had on before and the traction is on point. I made sure to leave the backend hanging out on a few landings to test the grip and it’s hooked up every time. I’m running it in the back but it could also be run up front as well. I haven’t gotten around to testing it out on the front just yet but I’m confident it will kick ass up there as well.
The sample FT1 tires came in a 2.25 size, but Merritt is already working on a slightly larger size to go with it. You’re going to have to be patient though if you want to get your hands on a set. There’s still plenty of testing to be done, and right now it’s looking like they will be available in early Spring. Take it from me, they’ll be worth the wait!