BMC Speedfox 01
THE BMC SPEEDFOX 01
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.
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.
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.