We’ve ridden and enjoyed the BMC marathon/XCO race-orientated bikes such as the short-travel Fourstroke and the softtail Teamelite 01. We were curious as to what this Swiss brand would deliver in the mid-travel trail-riding category, which is where it’s Speedfox model is positioned.
By the TREAD Testers
Photos: Dino Lloyd
Like the Fourstroke FS02, the Speedfox SF02 has a carbon main frame matched to an aluminum dual-link rear triangle. It also shares the same 12×142 mm rear axle and a BB92 PressFit bottom bracket. Travel sits at 130mm front and rear (the Fourstroke has 100mm of travel). The 68.5-degree headtube angle confirms it’s intent as more Trail than XC – it’s 1.5-degrees slacker than the Fourstroke.
The Fox CTD shock is rocker-driven and positioned vertically to make room for a downtube bottle. The frame’s rectangular-profiled tubes are sharply tapered and angled, a deviation from the swoopy, curvy lines of most trail bikes. The finishing is noticeably impressive and typically Swiss with molded, screw-on plastic caps that make for clean entries and exits for the Speed Fox’s internal housing and hoses, and a thick, molded rubber chainstay protector.
The build includes a Fox Float 34 fork with 130mm of travel with manual CTD adjust and a DT Swiss M1700 Spline wheelset. The groupset is Shimano XT, with a 2×11 drivetrain and 180mm brake rotors front and rear.
There’s a Rock Shox Reverb dropper seatpost with remote adjust and the cockpit comprises BMC-branded alloy handlebars and stem with Fizik Gobi saddle (although our test rig came with a ProLogo perch).
The tyres are Onza’s Canis upfront an Ibex at the rear – tubeless ready and both 2.25 wide. It looks a little long and low-slung, but also rather svelte for a trail bike. But it has a fairly average wheelbase (1149mm) and shortish chainstays (435mm). The finish is a combination of matte and gloss black, which really is rather beautiful.
You know, besides the position, the Speedfox felt very similar to the Fourstroke when we first started riding it. It’s a super-stiff frame for a dual-sus and accelerates rapidly. But then we took it to the Northern Drakensberg where the gradients were steep and long and the surfaces pretty rough and loose in places and we were able to really test it in some ‘higher grade’ trail conditions.
This is where we noticed it’s stability through turns and on steep descents. The Fox Float 34 fork may not be buttery smooth, but it’s certainly super stable. This, combined with 720mm wide bars and the Canis (one of our favourite tyres) up front, we were able to really push limits through turns, both loose, unpredictable and fast, firm turns.
On steep, fast descents we felt exceptionally in control. It feels like a long wheelbase, which means you feel more ‘in’ the bike than ‘on’ it during those white-knuckle, diving-down-slope moments. Obviously being able to move the saddle out of the way with the Stealth dropper post makes a big difference and we certainly worked that remote lever overtime… Climbing was actually damn snappy for a 130mm travel bike. At 12.82kg (without pedals) it’s not necessarily super light, but damn it’s super stiff and responsive when you’re locked out and putting down some leg power on the ascents.
There was actually nothing noticeably negative about the Speedfox in the three weeks we rode it. It answered every question we threw its way – with authority. It may not be the lightest mid-travel Trail bike around, but at R60K it’s certainly one of the best value buys. And when we say Trail bike, we mean Trail bike, with marathon/stage race tendencies – an ideal bike for bigger or older riders looking for a marathon/stage race rig that offers a little more comfort and control.
BMC TECH DEFINITIONS:
BWC – Big Wheel Concept
Winning performances are much more than just a tyre size – it’s how wheels are integrated into a complete bike. Our Big Wheel Concept maximises the rolling benefits of 29-inch wheel sizes and maintains a playful and nimble feel through purposeful geometry and cockpit tweaks. Low bottom bracket and short chainstays promote excellent traction and control while a roomy toptube and short stem promote a confident rider position. BWC focuses on the elements that transfer the benefits of big wheels onto the trails.
APS – Advanced Pivot System
A well-designed full suspension bike offers the control and confidence to ride a trail without hesitation. Ideal suspension systems maximise pedaling efficiency without compromising the ability to soak up the bumps. Our solution is the Advanced Pivot System (APS), which optimises kinematics and pivot placements, leverage ratios, axle paths and shock dimensions. Iterative calculations fine-tune all the suspension properties of each of our distinctive full-suspension models to achieve the best ride characteristics for any terrain. The result is a light, stiff and compact structure that promotes excellent control and energy transfer for the rider.
SIZES: XS, S, MD, L (tested), XL
HEADTUBE ANGLE: 68.5 degrees
SEATTUBE ANGLE: 74 degrees
CHAINSTAY LENGTH: 435mm
PRICE: R59 999
COLOURS: Matt/Gloss Black
FRAME: Carbon main frame with alloy rear triangle
WEIGHT: 12.82kg (with pedals)
FORK: Fox 34 Float Performance Series with 130mm travel and CTD adjust
SHOCK: Fox Float, Extra Volume, 3-Position Dual Piston System
SHIFTERS: Shimano XT 11 speed (M8000)
FRONT DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT 2×11 Dual Pull
REAR DERAILLEUR: Shimano XT Shadow Plus11 Speed (M8000)
CRANKSET: Shimano XT 34/24T (2×11, M8000)
BRAKESET: Shimano Deore XT Trail with 180mm rotors
WHEELS: DT Swiss M1700 Spline
TYRES: Onza Canis C3 2.25 front; Onza Ibex FRC120 2.25 rear
OTHERS: Rock Shox Reverb dropper seatpost, BMC MFB Alloy handlebars (720mm), BMC Alloy stem, Fizik Gobi M7 (Prologo tested) Saddle.
CONTACT: www.swisscycles.co.za; 011 880 2182
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*Originally published in TREAD Issue 39, 2016 – All rights reserved