The Speedfox 02 Trailcrew is a new model for BMC. Past Speedfox models were 29er whippets. This 650b version, however, crosses into all-mountain territory, with 150 millimeters of suspension and components aimed at aggressive riding.
"Solid kit all the way around," wrote one tester, and it's hard to argue with that assessment. BMC paired a SRAM X01 single-ring drivetrain with Shimano XT brakes, a RockShox Reverb dropper post and DT Swiss E 1700 Spline One wheels. There are also subtle-yet-smart touches mixed in, including a bash ring on the X01 crankset, meaty 2.4-inch Onza Ibex tires and a 203/180-millimeter rotor combo that beefs up the braking power on the reliable XT stoppers.The Speedfox wears a Cane Creek DB Air Inline shock–a shock designed for riders who are into fine-tuning its damping capabilities. True to form, our testers fiddled a fair bit with the settings before they were satisfied, but once they nailed it, they were impressed. "BMC's APS suspension uses a good modern design and the shock is a nice piece of work. The tradeoff, for me, is that I spent a fair bit of time dialing it in, but if you do that, you get a lot out of it. When I was hitting things fast, in G-out terrain, the suspension worked really well–I used every bit of the travel without bottoming out hard," one tester wrote.
'Agile' was an adjective that kept popping up in testers' notes. The bike's short 16.7-inch chainstays made easy work of tight corners. As another tester said: "It rode more nimbly than you'd expect from a bike with this much travel."
Testers were split on the steep 74-degree seat tube angle, with some riders feeling it put their weight too far forward in relation to the bottom bracket, and others liking how the geometry translated into seated climbing performance. If there was a quibble with the Speedfox's performance it was that the rear end had more of a tendency to hang up on rockier sections of climbs than on other models in this grouping, even when the shock was run wide open.
If the price on this half-carbon, half-aluminum version is beyond reach, BMC also offers the all-aluminum Speedfox 03 Trailcrew, which rolls in at a more attainable $3,900.
Q&A with BMC
Before this year's test bikes rolled into our barn, we had questions about them–some of the same questions that you might be asking yourself when you start poking around at a new bike. BMC changed things up on the Speedfox in a big way for 2016, so we had all sorts of questions for those guys in Switzerland. Here's something extra to chew on. –Vernon Felton, Bible of Bike Tests Moderator
Vernon Felton: When you guys were designing this updated Speedfox, who was the ideal rider/riding conditions you had in mind for it?
BMC: Honestly, this isn't an update–it's a very different behaving bike than the Speedfox 29. As a bit of background, our "Trailcrew" program was started about five or six years ago and represented everything that wasn't "BMC Racing DNA."
BMC is most widely known as a road team or, at the very least, a very race-oriented brand, but we have riders here in the Swiss office, and in our other offices globally, that this didn't speak to. So, when we decided to go 27.5 with this bike, we knew we didn't want to position it as another race bike, and this 150-millimeter area was our target. So, it's similar riding to a Speedfox 29 in terms of travel, but the attitude of the bike is very Trailcrew–it's not about racing, it's about a nice trail bike that's a ton of fun to ride. Trailcrew equals fun…
VF: If people are familiar with the Speedfox, it's probably the version with 29er wheels. Why'd you go 650b on this iteration?
BMC: As we noted above, we wanted a totally different attitude for the Trailcrew version, which is why we added the "Trailcrew" to the name. But it was more than just a different wheel size–the suspension and geometry are quite a bit different as well. There's a nice similarity of the two bikes (130mm – 29 & 150mm – 27.5) in the overall feel of the bike, but the wheelsize and geo make for a nice trade-off that I think most in the industry are pretty familiar with. The Trailcrew bike has a slightly more playful ride, and the Speedfox 29 is just a bit more business oriented.
VF: Are there conditions in which you feel the Speedfox 02 Trailcrew really excels and, if so, what specific design attributes of the bike make that so?
BMC: Going downhill! Riders who love to feel the air beneath their wheels will probably enjoy the Trailcrew bike a bit more than the Speedfox 29. Super tight, steep, technical terrain can be easier to navigate on the smaller wheels, but the wheelsize thing is such a rider-specific choice.
VF: Are there any aspects of the frame design that you guys are particularly proud of? If so, what are they and why?
BMC: With BMC we always enjoy integration–it's very Swiss! The cleanliness of the cable management (particularly the 02 model), the adaptability of the drivetrain (1x, 2x) and even removable ISCG mounts (maybe not that common, but a real perk for riders who want them)–all these things make for a clean bike.
VF: What was your goal with the component spec on this bike?
BMC: We went with wider rims, tires and wider bars to give the bike a bit more aggressive feel than the Speedfox 29. And the suspension platform is a lot more plush–we wanted a more linear feel and we got that through testing with Cane Creek, which is why you see the Inline spec'd.
VF: That Cane Creek DB Air Inline shock is a less common option on bikes these days. What drew you to spec it?
BMC: It's awesome–if it's less common, riders should smell the coffee! Seriously, the DB Inline has such incredible adjustability, we know this kind of rider tends to tinker, and that's the beauty of the Inline shock. It is capable of so much if riders want to find their ultra-specific sweet spot. We did a lot of testing and the engineers at Cane Creek worked to create the ride we wanted. There's a base tune card that comes with each bike, so riders know where to start from if they want to tinker. But our APS suspension platform is ready for tweaks in the tune, so we threw in a shock that enhanced that.
VF: Are there any details/features on this bike that you think are particularly critical to its performance that might be easily overlooked at first glance?
BMC: Part of the reason we did this bike was to bring BMC back to its roots of MTB. It's something not many people know about our brand: we started with mountain bikes and it's a huge part of our culture. We hope people become more familiar with our suspension platform (APS) and our take on what a mountain bike should be and how they should ride. We've got a geometry for our 29ers that turns heads on paper, and opens eyes on the trail. We hope the Speedfox Trailcrew introduces BMC to a rider that we've not often spoken to.
VF: What sets this version of the Speedfox apart from previous iterations?
BMC: Again, this is supposed to be the bike with the most character in our mountain bike line-up. It's the Speedfox with an attitude! Not particularly race-oriented, not an "all-business" bike as most of our 29 models are. It's our most funnerest bike…yep, that's a new word.
VF: There's no shortage of 6-inch travel bikes out there right now–what sets this bike apart from some other popular models in this niche?
BMC: Huh, we're not aware of any other 6-inch travel, 27.5 bikes at the moment?! One of the most favorable things about an instant-center suspension platform like APS is that it can be whatever the rider wants it to be. And it's easily serviceable. These are two characteristics that speak loudly to this rider, for sure–they want their bike to ride a bit different than their riding mates’, and they work on their own bikes and tweak…constantly. And we've gotten a lot of positive feedback from riders that we hit the mark on the spec, geo and the base tune of the shock.