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.
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.
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.
F-O-A 2.5 x 12" Coilover, Remote Reservoir, No Springs
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.
The coilover as a whole has a cheap feel to it.
The rod end has a smaller than standard 5/8" bearing that already has side to side play in it.
There is no bump stop on the shaft.
The stop nut / secondary nut uses two tiny screws to lock it in place.
The threads on the cylinder feel sharp and should be deburred.
There are strange marks and light scratches on the cylinder
The coilover cylinder and reservoir have some sort of fake chrome finish to them.
The spring slider is very loose on the cylinder.
The F-O-A logo is printed on the reservoir hose.
The reservoir fittings are some of the largest we've seen on a shock.
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.
The wiper cap is slotted for a firm grip with large pliers or an adjustable wrench.
The shaft assembly came out extremely easy indicating a loose fit between the seal cap, piston, and cylinder.
The seal cap retaining ring seems to barely engage the cap which is concerning.
There was a large amount of fine dust or debris in the shock oil along with two small bugs.
Two large O-rings on the seal cap seal it to the coilover cylinder and compensate for the loose fit.
Several large but shallow scrapes were found inside of the coilover cylinder.
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.
The shock oil was practically saturated with foreign particles.
The piston nut was less than half threaded despite being an end-thread lock nut.
A line of surface rust was found forming on the coilover cylinder threads.
While taking measurements we noticed the cylinder wall thickness varied by .005"
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.
The top cap was attached firmly and dual O-rings provide a very good seal.
The threads on the top cap and cylinder were a bit rough, but the cap eventually came out nicely by hand.
The black compound on the threads doesn't seem like regular thread locker because it is thick and crumbles apart.
The top cap is heavy duty and has plenty of engagement inside the cylinder.
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.
1/2" NPT crimped hydraulic fittings on each end of the reservoir are some of the biggest we've seen on a shock.
The reservoir hose seems to be a cheap import hose but will easily handle the pressures required.
The reservoir hose has a full 1/2" inner diameter run from the shock to the reservoir.
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.
The reservoir end caps are well made and have two extra-large O-rings each for sealing.
The components are anodized black and the end cap has a high pressure Schrader valve for charging.
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.
The reservoir cylinder has marks and scratches inside and out.
The internal floating piston is massive and has a bronze wear band and 2 large O-rings for sealing.
The IFP wear band is recessed too far into the piston making it a loose fit inside the cylinder.
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.
Heavy duty coil adjustment nut with pin adjustment holes and pinch-locking screw.
Our test springs were a bit loose on the engagement collar.
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.
The slider is short and a loose fit to cylinder and springs meaning it will cause the spring to bend against each other.
The stop nut is a unique design and fits tight on the cylinder and is thick enough to stop the slider securely.
While the tiny screws on the stop nut seem like a pain to get to, they are actually easy to reach through lighter springs.
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.
The lower spring plate fits snug on the lower rod end and has plenty of engagement inside the spring.
Similar to the coil nut and slider, the lower spring plate was a bit loose to the inner diameter of our springs.
Like all of the other components, the plate is made of aluminum and anodized flat black.
The coilover hardware altogether appears plenty strong to support even the heaviest spring rates.
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.
There is no bump stop between the rod end and wiper cap.
The shock shaft spacer is made of steel but is a very loose fit on the shock shaft.
The shaft spacer contacts the compression shims at full extension which is not good.
The wear band is a strip of plastic cut to shape with scissors.
Why use a real wear band on the reservoir IFP and not on the shaft piston?
The piston is made of aluminum and appears to have been machined rapidly due to the markings.
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.
The piston nut is less than half threaded on the shaft and its locking feature is unused.
Using five spacers between the rebound shims and nut is completely unnecessary in any configuration.
Despite the piston nut only being attached by 4 threads, the lower rod end loosened up first in the vice.
With the snap rings removed, the bearing fell out of the lower rod end reflecting a loose fit.
The bearing is marked COM9T indicating that it is a low grade commercial bearing with a Teflon liner.
A dab of crumbly thread locker may have been used on the lower rod end but it came off surprisingly easy.
The lower rod end has plenty of thread engagement on the shaft and is substantial in overall size.
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.
The piston appears to be a very good design except for the sharp right angles that hurt oil flow.
We still can't get over the PVC plastic wear band on the piston.
There are three bleed holes in the piston but they are not threaded to accept plugs.
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.
The valving shims provided with our coilover work out to about 16/16 (0.016 compression and 0.016 rebound).
The valving shims are made of spring steel with significant variations in OD and thicknesses throughout.
1/2" x 1.50" bearing spacers were included although they are not high-misalignment spacers like we are used to seeing.
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.
The seal cap, DU bushing, O-ring, and wiper seal are a very snug fit to the shock shaft.
Two extra-large O-rings are needed to seal the large gap between the seal cap and the shock cylinder.
The wiper cap holds a blue external wiper seal and has a set screw to lock it to the seal cap.
The wiper cap is slotted to be easily gripped with large pliers or adjustable wrench.
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.
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.
13.0 lbs. Overall Dry Weight with Hardware
1,495 grams of Moving Weight
935 grams Dry Weight Without Hose
Medium Weight | Gold / Yellow
14.0" Long | 2.56" OD | 2.31" ID | 0.12"-0.13" Wall | 1,547 grams | Steel | Zinc Chromate
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
0.75" Tall | 0.20" Wall | 45 grams | Aluminum | Black Ano
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
0.875" OD | 0.437" Wide | 0.562" Ball Width | 0.563" ID | Steel | PTFE
1.50" Overall Width | 0.50" ID | Steel
15.44" Long | 0.8725" OD | 1,119 grams | Steel | Hard Chrome
0.634" Thick | 2.30" OD | 0.34/0.36" ID Ports | 42 grams | Aluminum | Bare
0.625" ID | Various OD and Thickness | Steel | Bare
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
0.694" Tall | 0.24" Inset | Wiper | Aluminum | Black Ano
Lower Rod End
3.0" Tall | 1.69" OD | 1.01" Ear Width | 0.30" Bearing Wall | 157 grams | Aluminum | Black Ano
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
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
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
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.