Tools, in the most basic sense, empower you. They’re an investment in the future; they will help you accomplish things. Foundry Cycles, as a brand, has really pursued the marketing their carbon fiber bicycles as tools. In the hands of a skilled user, or rider, the tool will be transformed into a beautiful thing. Dirty, but beautiful. My tool was the carbon fiber Broadaxe B2—a 29er hardtail, sporting the middle of the three SRAM drivetrain packages. The price for the three Broadaxe models ranges from $3,000 for the X7-equipped B1 up to $5,600 for the XX-equipped model.
“Stealthy” is how I would describe this bike. Its lines are symmetrical and clean and seem to flow uninterrupted, fore and aft. If you appreciate a matte, primer gray paint job on a classic muscle car, you will like the looks of the Broadaxe. Internal cable routing, tapered head tube, the new SRAM X0 Type 2 rear derailleur, Press-Fit 30 bottom bracket, 15mm thru-axle in the front, and a 12x142mm thru-axle in the rear make this bike a caucus of the latest standards and tech—the Broadaxe is kryptonite to retro-grouches.
Overall, I felt like this build—which resulted in a sub-23lbs. bike—was in no way “weight weenie.” My bike came equipped with a 2×10 SRAM X0/X9 drivetrain and Avid Elixir 7 disc brakes. One of the things that really impressed me was the SRAM Type 2 rear derailleur. It eliminated chain slap, and I had smooth, consistent shifts all the way across the cassette.
The Elixir brakes were adequate, but I had to sand down and bed in the pads and rotors multiple times to get them to quiet down. One of the things that I was really pleased to see was that Foundry chose to spec this bike with NoTubes ZTR Arch EX rims. Even at this price, some companies try to save a few dollars with house-branded wheels; it was nice to see a reliable tubeless wheelset on the Broadaxe. In my mind, high-quality OEM wheels are often the tipping point in choosing between two similarly spec’d bikes.
The Broadaxe’s geometry is considered pretty standard for a cross-country-oriented 29er hardtail, with a 71.5 degree head tube angle and a 74 degree seat tube angle. There were a few quirks that really stood out to me: the Broadaxe has a very compact front triangle due to large-diameter carbon tubing and a shorter, slightly bent seat tube. This means that there is no room for a second bottle cage on the seat tube on the small and medium frames. I was riding a medium and really missed having a second bottle cage.
The bottom bracket height is also just a hair over 12-inches, which was lower than my personal bike, and resulted in numerous pedal strikes. However, this low bottom bracket combined with short chainstays and a compact wheelbase yielded a bike that tracks incredibly well into the corners and was easy to bunny hop. I also appreciated the aesthetics of the Broadaxe; it’s the kind of bike that looks good dirty or clean.
I felt that the ride quality of the carbon fiber Broadaxe was comparable to that of a high-quality steel frame, but without the flex or slight weight penalty that comes with a good steel frameset. At my size and weight, I cannot comment about “vertical compliance,” but I found that this frameset did an admirable job of taking the edge off of vibration and trail chatter. Some of the damping was due to the leverage created by the Broadaxe’s 27.2mm seatpost. Stiff bikes benefit from a seatpost that can flex to help take the edge off. My previous bike was also a carbon hardtail but had a carbon 34.9mm seatpost that transferred every trail feature right up my back.
Incorporating a rear 142x12mm thru-axle made me skeptical at first, but it tied the back end of the bike together incredibly well. It took me a while to get used to the precision with which I could navigate high-speed corners. As a recovering weight weenie, I never thought I would say this, but “The QR is dead; long live the thru-axle!”
The Broadaxe struck an excellent compromise between snappy, responsive handling and all-day ridability. The Broadaxe has impeccable handling manners, and I never felt like I was trying to tame it when navigating tight switchbacks. My longest day on the bike was 125 miles of ATV trails and fire roads on the North Shore of Lake Superior, and even then, my only complaint was having to stuff my jersey pockets with extra bottles due to the single bottle cage.
It took me about two weeks to really get into the groove of how the Broadaxe handled, but once I did, it became my go-to bike for the fast, tight singletrack of the upper Midwest. The 29er carbon hardtail market is pretty crowded (and pricey), but if you demand subtle details like internal cable routing, reliable tubeless wheels, a reliable drivetrain spec, and thru-axles fore and aft, the Broadaxe B2 is at least $500 less than its closely spec’d competition from the major manufacturers.
I think this bike fits the bill for riders that want an XC whip but also desire a hardtail that is capable of 100 milers. If I had not already met my spousal-imposed one-new-bike-per-year quota, I would be a Broadaxe owner.
- Wheelbase: 43.5-inches, 1,105mm
- Head Angle: 71.5 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle: 74 degrees
- Bottom Bracket: 12.2-inches, 310mm
- Chainstay Length: 17.2-inches, 438mm
- Weight: 22.75lbs., 10.3kg
- Sizes Available: 15”, 17” (tested), 19”, and 21”
- Price: $3,750
- Country of Origin: Taiwan