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F-O-A Performance Shocks Review

First Over All Shock Technology, more commonly known as F-O-A, was founded in 2006 with the goal of offering high performance off-road shocks at an affordable price. All shocks are built to order with custom valving and your choice of reservoir, hardware, and springs.

FOA Shocks

F-O-A is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit their website at F-O-A.com or call them at 855-362-7469.




Have Questions About F-O-A Performance Shocks? Check Out The Comments Section Below!


The Ordering Process

We called FOA anonymously and spoke with their sales tech who was very helpful. We gave him details about a fictitious project after which he asked us a few more questions and gave us a recommendation for coilovers that we felt were right on the mark. FOA offers custom valving at no additional charge and other available options include a compression adjuster, 90 degree reservoir fittings, and a foam bump stop. Replacement parts seem to be readily available and they do offer a rebuild and re-valve service for a fee. While there do appear to be several reputable FOA shock dealers across the country, we decided to order our coilover directly from FOA and were given an estimated lead time of about 2 weeks.



Shipping and Delivery

We received our FOA coilover several days later via UPS. On one side we could see the lower spring plate poking its way through and when we opened the box we found no padding other than some bubble wrap around the reservoir. All of the components were there and the shocks appeared to be in good shape with no major scratches or dents.

Shock Details: F-O-A 2.5 x 12" Coilover, Remote Reservoir, No Springs
Manufacturers Price: $261.00 ($240.00 + $21 Shipping)
Typical Dealer Price: $204.25 ($204.25 + Free Shipping)
Date Ordered: April 10th.
Date Shipped: April 11th. (Next Day)
Packaging: Heavy cardboard box / Minimal padding
Reservoir Mounts: No
Pressurized Reservoir: No

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This F-O-A Shock Review is ©Copyright Crawlpedia.com - Do not reproduce or repost without written approval.



Initial Impressions

From the moment we removed the FOA coilover from the box, we could instantly tell that this coilover was half the price of other shocks in this group. The threads on the cylinder feel like they will cut your hand if you lose your grip on it and the fake chrome finish gives them a "made in China" feel. The lower rod end has a smaller than usual bearing that already feels worn out and there is no bump stop on the shock shaft. The reservoir hose has "F-O-A" printed on it which is a nice touch and the fittings are huge.

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Disassembly

We opened the FOA coilover following standard performance shock servicing procedures. FOA uses a set screw to lock the wiper cap in place and with that removed the cap can be unscrewed and pushed out of the way. A small retaining ring holds the seal cap assembly in place so to remove it we pushed down on the seal cap and used a small screwdriver to pry it out. The shaft assembly then came out of the cylinder very easily and the oil was poured into a clean container for inspection.

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As soon as we poured the shock oil into our freshly cleaned container we could see a significant amount of contaminants. Small bits of dust and debris were floating throughout the oil and we even found a couple of tiny bugs. It's really hard to imagine how this much stuff could end up in a fresh shock build. We also noticed that the piston nut was only held on by what was later determined to be four threads and there was surface rust forming on the cylinder threads.

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Removing the top cap required quite a bit of heat and force as was expected. The first 3 or 4 rotations felt like the threads were binding hard but after that it loosened up and the top cap came out by hand. An O-ring seals the top cap to the inside of the cylinder and a secondary O-ring seals the connection at the top of the cylinder.

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The reservoir hose has an industrial feel to it and has large crimped hydraulic fittings on each end. Other than the F-O-A logo, there is no pressure rating listed anywhere like we normally see on hydraulic hose. When we cut the hose to expose any internal reinforcements we found that it had two layers of steel braiding but they seem to be delaminating from each other.

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The reservoir end caps are beefy and held in place with retaining rings. They each use a pair of extra-large O-rings for sealing and with them removed the end caps showed to be a good fit inside the reservoir cylinder. The components are anodized black and the end cap features a standard high pressure Schrader valve for charging.

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Inside the reservoir cylinder we found more machining marks and a massive internal floating piston. The exterior of the reservoir cylinder has a finish that looks similar to chrome but also shows many scratches and marks on it. With the O-rings removed from the IFP, it is a loose fit inside of the cylinder with only one side of the wear band making contact.

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This F-O-A Shock Review is ©Copyright Crawlpedia.com - Do not reproduce or repost without written approval.



Coilover Hardware

FOA coilovers use a pinch style upper coil adjustment nut with external ports for a pin style adjusting wrench. It rotates easily along the threaded cylinder and can be pinched tight with the countersunk socket head cap screw. While snug to the coilover cylinder, our test springs all sat a little too loose for our liking around the engagement collar. Other than that, the adjustment nut is built plenty strong to support any vehicle a 2.5 coilover would be used for.

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The coilover slider is shorter and smaller than the other coilovers we have here and it is a loose fit on the coilover cylinder as well as to the springs. While the slider shouldn't be a tight fit, there is a bit more play than we normally like to see. The stop nut is a single ring with two tiny screws that can be tightened to pinch the nut and lock it in position. While we initially thought it would be almost impossible to adjust with the springs installed, we were surprised to see how accessible it was (with lighter spring rates at full extension). The stop nut moves smoothly on the cylinder, however, the rough cut threads are sharp enough to warrant wearing gloves while making the adjustments.

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The lower spring plate is a standard flat plate design that sits atop the lower rod end and has a slot cut into it to slip over the shock shaft. The plate is a nice fit on the rod end but just like the slider and coil adjustment nut, our test springs moved around on it more than we like.

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Shock Shaft and Piston Assembly

The shaft assembly has all of the expected components other than a bump stop between the rod end and wiper cap. The blue wiper seal is a good fit and appears to be of good quality and the seal cap assembly is a tight fit on the chromed shock shaft. The piston has rough machine marks around the circumference and the wear band is a strip of plastic that appears to have been cut to shape with scissors.

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As previously mentioned, the most glaring issue with the piston end of the shaft is that the pinion nut is barely even attached. What makes even less sense is that FOA then put five washers between the nut and the rebound shims which would be excessive even if the nut could be fully threaded. Then, on top of that, they use a pinch style lock nut that is useless if it's not threaded to the end. On the other side of the shaft, as soon as we removed the snap rings from the lower rod end the bearing fell right out showing us that it was a very loose fit. Finally, when we tried to remove the piston nut we were surprised to see that the shaft spun out of the lower rod end first.

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The piston is CNC machined from aluminum and has six compression ports, three rebound ports and three open bleed holes. The design allows for high flow, however, the ports are cut flat so the oil has to pass through several sharp right angels which inhibits smooth flow. The wear band appears to be a strip of PVC plastic that was cut by hand to fit the piston. FOA clearly has a source for actual bronze wear bands since they use one on the IFP so it makes us wonder why they would cheap out on such an important component.

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For valving, FOA uses standard spring steel shims in a pyramid stack. While we normally expect compression valving to be a bit firmer than rebound valving, FOA decided to give us what we equate to 15/15 valving. In measuring each shim to document the shim stacks (see below) we noticed that the shims varied slightly in both outside diameter and thickness so we had to average out our measurements. This variation is a bit concerning because if the shims are not consistent it becomes almost impossible to properly tune the shock.

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The lower seal cap and wiper cap are very impressive and some of the nicest parts found in the FOA shock. The seal cap is machined from aluminum, features two large O-rings and is held in place with a retaining ring. Inside the seal cap is a wiper seal, O-ring, and a bronze DU bushing to guide the shock shaft, all of which are a very snug fit. The wiper cap holds a blue wiper seal and has a set screw to lock it to the seal cap when the shock is assembled. All was looking well and good until we removed the O-rings from the seal cap to test the fit inside the cylinder where we found it to have a large gap all around.

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Shock Valving

FOA offers various valving options from zero to frim or custom valving to fit the customer's needs. Additional shim stacks are available and they offer a re-valving service for a fee. For our coilover, it looks like FOA went with medium/medium valving.

CompressionRebound
.014" x 1.698" OD .016" x 1.698" OD
.016" x 1.599" OD .016" x 1.598" OD
.015" x 1.500" OD .016" x 1.500" OD
.018" x 1.379" OD .016" x 1.379" OD
.016" x 1.253" OD .014" x 1.253" OD
.016" x 1.126" OD .015" x 1.128" OD
.058" x 0.938" Spacer .058" x 0.938" Spacer
.058" x 0.938" Spacer
.058" x 0.938" Spacer
.058" x 0.938" Spacer
.058" x 0.938" Spacer



This F-O-A Shock Review is ©Copyright Crawlpedia.com - Do not reproduce or repost without written approval.



Shock Details

The following is a list of component materials, dimensions, weights, finishes, and other important details as they pertain to each individual part. Each component was measured multiple times with a highly precise caliper and scale.

Note: Many of the components on this FOA coilover had significant variations in our measurements. Wall thicknesses, diameters, and overall dimensions were measured in several different spots and the averages had to be rounded more than in our other reviews so far.

Complete Shock 13.0 lbs. Overall Dry Weight with Hardware
Shaft Assembly 1,495 grams of Moving Weight
Reservoir Assembly 935 grams Dry Weight Without Hose
Shock Oil Medium Weight | Gold / Yellow

Shock Cylinder 14.0" Long | 2.56" OD | 2.31" ID | 0.12"-0.13" Wall | 1,547 grams | Steel | Zinc Chromate
Top Cap 3.59" Tall | 2.55" OD | 0.95" Ear Width | 0.42" Bearing Wall | Aluminum | Black Ano
Top Coil Nut 0.95" Tall | 0.49" Spring Perch | 2.94" OD Spring Seat | 236 grams | Aluminum | Black Ano
Stop Nut 0.75" Tall | 0.20" Wall | 45 grams | Aluminum | Black Ano
Slider 1.86" Tall | 4.24" OD | 2.65" ID | 0.62" Wide Spring Seat | 0.18" Wall | Plastic
Lower Spring Plate 0.67" Tall | 0.46" Thick Seat | 3.99" OD | 0.91" Slot | Aluminum | Black Ano
Bearings 0.875" OD | 0.437" Wide | 0.562" Ball Width | 0.563" ID | Steel | PTFE
Misalignment Spacers 1.50" Overall Width | 0.50" ID | Steel

Shock Shaft 15.44" Long | 0.8725" OD | 1,119 grams | Steel | Hard Chrome
Piston 0.634" Thick | 2.30" OD | 0.34/0.36" ID Ports | 42 grams | Aluminum | Bare
Valving Shims 0.625" ID | Various OD and Thickness | Steel | Bare
Shaft Spacer 0.71" Tall | 1.13" OD | 0.95" ID | 26 grams | Steel
Seal Cap / Guide 1.683" Tall | 2.30" OD | DU Bushing + O-ring + Wiper | 215 grams | Aluminum | Bare
Wiper Cap 0.694" Tall | 0.24" Inset | Wiper | Aluminum | Black Ano
Bump Stop None
Lower Rod End 3.0" Tall | 1.69" OD | 1.01" Ear Width | 0.30" Bearing Wall | 157 grams | Aluminum | Black Ano

Reservoir 10.94" Long | 2.50" OD | 2.25" ID | 0.13" Wall | 454 grams | Aluminum | Zinc Chromate
Reservoir Valve End 2.24" OD | 1.10" Thick | Schrader Valve | Aluminum | Black Ano
Reservoir Hose End 2.24" OD | 1.10" Thick | 0.71" Bore | 1/2" NPT Thread | Aluminum | Black Ano
Reservoir Piston 2.22" OD | 1.23" Thick | Solid | 203 grams | Aluminum
Reservoir Hose 16.0" Long | 0.85" OD | 0.50" ID | Double Steel Braided | 1/2" Fittings | Rubber


Summary / Conclusion

At half the price of the budget shocks in our test and only a third the cost of the higher end shocks, it's easy to see why FOA coilovers are so tempting to builders on a budget. While FOA promotes themselves as "high performance shocks at an affordable price," any reasonable person should quickly catch that "high quality" and "affordable" rarely go together without later being followed by disappointment. In the end, it is safe to say that you get what you pay for with FOA coilover shocks.

The Good Stuff The Bad Stuff
Very affordable Overall cheap look and feel
Good sales and tech support Low grade, non-standard sized bearings
Custom valving available Spherical bearings already have play in them
Replacement parts available Bearings a vloose fit in the rod end and top cap
Super easy to open and service No bump stop on shaft
Fast shipping Cylinder threads are rough and sharp to the touch
Heavy duty seal cap design Shock cylinder already has a line of rust on it
Unique stop-nut design Scrapes found outside and inside the cylinders
All components black anodized Coilover hardware all loose fitting
Slotted wiper cap for good grip Poor tolerances on components
F-O-A logo on reservoir hose Large O-rings used to compensate for large gaps
Dual O-rings on every component Components have significant variation in dimensions
Solid top cap and lower rod end Shock shaft spacer contacts compression shims
1/2" NPT reservoir fittings Large amount of debris found in shock oil
Made in the USA The piston nut is barely threaded on to the shaft
The shaft assembly came out extremely easy
The seal cap retaining ring is barely big enough
Fake chrome finish gives it a cheap imported look
Plastic used as wear band on shock piston
The internal floating piston is extremely heavy
The wear band on the IFP is recessed too far
Lower rod end unthreaded from shaft far too easy
Slider is short and loose causing springs to bend
Shock shims had inconsistent thicknesses
Piston ports have sharp right angles
Bleed holes are open and not threaded for closing
Poorly packaged during shipping

The Final Word: F-O-A coilover shocks are cheap and low quality, however, as long as you know that going in and aren't expecting good performance or a long life out of them, then they may fit the bill. While we would never recommend these for any performance application, those looking for mock-up shocks or something cheap to hold them over until they get something better, F-O-A shocks could be a good choice.



Have Questions About F-O-A Performance Shocks? Check Out The Comments Section Below!


Related Resources

Crawlpedia Shock Shootout
Shock Tuning Guide
Shock Valving Guide
How To Measure For Coilovers
Coilover Install and Setup Guide
ORI STX Struts Guide




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