BMC Speedfox 01

THE BMC SPEEDFOX 01

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - TESTER: RYAN WALSCH PHO­TOG­RA­PHER: TIM BARDLSEY -SMITH

We took BMC’s top tier trail bike to the South Is­land of New Zealand in search of what many re­gard as the most pris­tine trails in the world. The Speedfox has an ex­tremely svelte ap­pear­ance, with a form and func­tion that could only be Swiss. One look down to the bars and any min­i­mal­ist would feel right at home, thanks to the ab­sence of clut­ter and all things un­nec­es­sary. What makes BMC’s all new Speedfox unique is just that, an ab­sence of any­thing re­dun­dant and what BMC call Trail-Sync. We have all been robbed at some point on a de­scent after for­get­ting to un­lock your sus­pen­sion and that prob­lem aboard the Speedfox is re­dun­dant, the rider is synced with the trail us­ing just one lever. The Trail Sync lever si­mul­ta­ne­ously ac­ti­vates the

in­te­grated drop­per post and trail func­tion­al­ity of the Fox Float EVOL rear shock. When the post is up, the shock is in the trail po­si­tion and when in the mid­way po­si­tion or dropped it re­turns to the open/de­scend mode. To date there is noth­ing quite like this in the mar­ket, but is the Speedfox mak­ing as­sump­tions about our en­vi­ron­ment for us? The an­swer there is sim­ple – yes it is. But does it im­prove our chance of get­ting the mix right? That’s what we wanted to find out.

INI­TIAL IM­PRES­SIONS

One glance at the Speedfox and its sim­ple and sleek ap­pear­ance is un­mis­tak­ably Swiss. All this sim­plic­ity re­quires lots of in­ter­nal wiz­ardry, the lone left hand lever un­der the bars con­trols the in­ter­nal lock­ing mech­a­nism for the in­te­grated Trail-Sync drop­per post which is in turn con­nected to the rear shock. Yes there is a lot go­ing on in­side that main­frame! The in­te­grated Trail-Sync drop­per is very long, and may be cut to achieve the cor­rect height. There is a short seat mast cap sup­plied and a longer one is avail­able af­ter­mar­ket for any­one that may need the ex­tra length or ad­justa­bil­ity. On our large test bike the drop­per has 120mm of drop. A small or medium sized frame has 100mm. Out of the box we set up the Speedfox tube­less and ran the all-sea­son Hutchin­son Taipan 29 x 2.25” front and rear in prepa­ra­tion for the va­ri­ety of trails in New Zealand. The DT Swiss XM1501 Spline One wheels have fault­less tube­less setup and the tyres bagged up nicely. We knew that 10

days in the South Is­land of New Zealand would throw some ex­treme weather our way and we were ea­ger to see how the Trail-Sync sys­tem would han­dle chal­leng­ing con­di­tions.

ON THE TRAIL

It is easy to re­lax and en­joy the trail aboard the Speedfox, the bike is sta­ble yet re­spon­sive per­form­ing well across a range of ter­rain. BMC have kept the ge­om­e­try fig­ures quite con­ser­va­tive with our size large wheel base mea­sur­ing an ac­cu­rate 1169mm. This over­all length is made up of a rel­a­tively long 445mm chain­stay and 632mm top tube. BMC have paired this nicely with a 55mm stem and 750mm han­dle­bars which all adds up the that sta­ble feel we spoke of. Keep­ing the steer­ing sharp is a 68.5 de­gree head an­gle and the lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Rock­Shox Pike sport­ing the new Charger Damper with 120mm travel and 51mm off­set. The fork is well suited for a bike of this ap­pli­ca­tion, giv­ing su­perb con­trol with the abil­ity to push harder through rough ter­rain thanks to the larger di­am­e­ter stan­chions com­pared to an ex­tended cross-coun­try fork which some 120mm trail bikes have. Point the Speedfox up a trail and ex­tend the Trail-Sync and the bike comes alive. The shock au­to­mat­i­cally moves into the trail set­ting firm­ing up the rear shock while re­main­ing ac­tive enough for the rear tyre to find trac­tion. The swing arm utilises BMC’s APS (Ad­vanced Pivot Sys­tem) which squeezes a small link be­tween the main­frame and chain­stay ex­tend­ing the wheelbase slightly when the wheel trav­els through its path. This re­ally helps re­sist pedal-in­duced bob and makes the bike easy to main­tain speed and com­po­sure on when climb­ing, es­pe­cially when out of the sad­dle. The sus­pen­sion re­mains ac­tive on de­scents and di­rec­tion changes are a breeze with the one piece car­bon swing arm boost­ing stiff­ness and keep­ing the to­tal weight down too. We did find that on re­ally steep and rough ter­rain the steeper 68.5 de­gree head an­gle made the bike very twitchy and ner­vous de­spite its 120mm sad­dle drop.

The Speedfox sits a lit­tle closer to the XC side of a trail bikes and given its climb­ing prow­ess, this de­scend­ing trade off is well worth it. If your pre­ferred use is more trail, in­creas­ing the fork’s travel by 10mm to 130mm would cer­tainly change the bias and is un­likely to un­set­tle the bike’s ef­fi­cient up­hill han­dling by much. We did find that the Trail-Sync lock­ing mech­a­nism re­quired some “prac­tice” to find the mid­way point and over time we no­ticed that the lock be­came sloppy, in­con­sis­tent and some­times em­ploy­ing a mind of its own. When clean­ing the rem­nants of a wet South Is­land tour off the bike we found the source of our drop­per is­sues to be an ad­just­ment is­sue that led to us dam­ag­ing the mech­a­nism through con­tin­ued use in this state. A friendly phone call, re­place­ment part and the unit has been work­ing smoothly since.

OUR TAKE

We loved the way the Speedfox turned an ar­du­ous climb into some­thing pleas­ant. With less ef­fort needed and less head bob­ble we could en­joy the sur­rounds and keep the ped­als turn­ing. While Trail-Sync sure does cut down on clut­ter and room for er­ror, it isn’t go­ing to be ev­ery rid­ers cup of tea. There are pre­de­ter­mined choices BMC has made for you, post up and its in trail, mid­way its open and down its open. Like for all moun­tain bikes, the el­e­ments can be fun but hard­wear­ing. We rec­om­mend reg­u­lar clean­ing and pre­ven­ta­tive main­te­nance to un­cover lit­tle ad­just­ment is­sues like we had be­fore they progress into some­thing big­ger. It can be dif­fi­cult if you are “out in the bush” and not near a lo­cal dealer. We see the Speedfox work­ing best for the lighter XC side of trail rid­ing, big days in the hills with rougher ter­rain than an XC bike may be com­fort­able on. That is where the Speedfox ex­cels and where you will smile most rid­ing it. If you are look­ing for a trail bike that can take big­ger hits and even the odd En­duro race, the Trail­fox could be the bike for you. At $8999 the Speedfox one is on the pricey side, the build qual­ity is re­fined and very Swiss.

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