2016 BMC Speedfox 02 Trailcrew Review – 27.5
Words / Photos: Toni Walbridge
For the past few seasons BMC has bucked the trend of mid-sized wheels opting to focus on 29″ hoops. BMC is a company deeply rooted in racing and appears to feel strongly that the 29″ wheel is the right wheel for racing applications. We’ve taken a look at their Trailfox TF-01 in the past and for 2016, they have finally launched a 27.5 option with the goal of creating a bike that is focused more to the fun side of mountain biking. Dubbed the Speedfox Trailcrew, this is an all new bike despite sharing the Speedfox name with BMC’s existing line of 130 mm travel 29’ers. Straight out of the press material, BMC touts attributes like “plush” and “playful” leaving no question that this is not just a wheel size departure but an entirely different type of bike for the typically serious Swiss manufacture. At a high level, the bike looks well thought out as if the Swiss team took building a fun bike as seriously as they would building a fast bike.
The Speedfox Trailcrew is presented as a platform specifically optimized for fun over outright speed. At 150 mm travel front and rear, I feel like the travel is spot on for this niche. Enough to handle some pretty rowdy terrain without so much travel as to feel boring or worse, cumbersome on lesser trails. From a geometry perspective, there’s nothing particularly radical about the Speedfox but it’s right there with the times. Four sizes are available, XS, S, M, L, and XL.
The angles and measurements represent very much the sort of numbers you’d expect to see with an all-around all-mountain bike. The head tube sits at 66.5º for a fairly relaxed steering feel without too much wandering, thanks in part to the 74º seat tube angle. The reach in any given size is quite modern with the size small I tested measuring a roomy 415 mm and the medium rings in at 435 mm. The large and XL options each add another 20 mm of reach respectively. I wound up with a size small to test but at 5’8″ I’m in the range to fit either a small or a medium. I’d size up for jamming out trail mileage and size down for jump lines and getting sideways and not stress to much about that decision because this bike is down to play either way. Rounding out the geo on a highlight, the chainstays come in at a fairly short 428 mm, notably achieved without the use of boost hub spacing yet boasts massive mud clearance and retains the ability to run a front derailleur.
The Speedfox Trailcrew employs BMC’s APS suspension linkage design tuned for a more active ride compared to the firmer tunes employed on their race oriented bikes. Suspension damping is handled by a CCDB-A Inline driven by alloy rockers. I was a little surprised to see such a high end damper considering the carbon frame and other costly components on a bike a this price point. The shock is delivered with a base line tune co-developed between BMC and Cane Creek. BMC includes a handy sag meter on top of the linkage to make setup just a bit easier. It’s pretty well known that there have been some reliability issues with the Inline but in the couple months that I had this bike to review the shock gave me no troubles.
The all carbon front triangle boasts some fairly beefy looking tubes and includes internal routing for all lines, including the unusual decision to route the rear brake line internally. If you choose to run a front derailleur there are accommodations for that line as well. The head tube is a tapered design using a common 44 mm top cup and a 57 mm bottom allowing for easy replacement should you wear it out or the ability to swap in an angled or offset headset. The down tube is near to massive on this frame at the head tube and as it meets the press fit 92 bottom bracket, it’s fully massive. Feel free to lay down the power, this frame can handle it. The complete build here weighed in at ~28lbs .
The Speedfox Trailcrew is spec’d with a full X01 drivetrain including carbon X01 cranks. BMC increments crank arm length across the frame size range with extra-small and small frames receiving 170 mm arms and medium through XL receiving 175 mm arms. There are ISCG-05 tabs on the frame but no chain guide is spec’d. BMC elected to spec a rather retro bash guard for a bit of extra protection. Definitely a bit of a throw-back look but considering how many times I smacked it, not an all together back idea. The BB is a PF92 setup which means press-in cups. I tend to like the idea of threaded cups but having owned a few press-fit frames over the past few years, I’ve yet to have a creak or service issue resulting from them so I guess I’m OK with it now. That little black tab with the BMC logo on it in the photo below is to mount a front derailleur if anyone happens to remember those.
Out back BMC tucked the XT caliper in between the chainstays in seat stays no doubt boosting stiffness and adding a bit of protection for the caliper. A 180 mm rotor slows down the rear and a 203 is spec’d up front to provide all the stopping power you’ll need in this class of bike on big descents. DT’s E1700 Spline Two wheels feature an inner rim width of 25 mm and are claimed to be an “enduro” class wheel at a claimed weight of 1840g. My test bike arrived with tubes installed but the wheels are delivered with rim tape from the factory. I grabbed a set of tubeless valve stems and a little Stans sealant and had the stock 2.4 Onza Ibex tires converted to tubeless in minutes without a bit of drama.
The cock pit on the Speedfox is mostly what you would expect to find on a bike in this class and included a mix of quality house brand parts. A short, 45 mm stem set me up to be in a good position although the 750 mm bar was hopelessly too narrow to even consider riding so an Enve DH bar cut to 785 mm was swapped in before the first ride. BMC’s lock-on grips were comfy enough with a tacky feel and the XT levers and X01 shifter integrate well enough that I rarely pause to consider they’re not designed by the same manufacturer. Strangely, the Reverb is both spec’d at only 125 mm where i could have easily gotten away with a 150 or 170 mm dropper. The Reverb remote position was also a bit of a head scratcher, being spec’d on top of the bars rather than under despite the fact that the Speedfox uses a 1X drivetrain.
Riding the Speedfox
The Speedfox is one of those bikes where I found my self reaching for it no matter what was on the ride menu of the day and it never disappointed. Jam out some XC miles to wear out my nitro-fueled puppy? No problem. Shuttle some local DH? Lets do it. BMC tuned the Speedfox Trailcrew for a bit more active and compliant ride than the standard Speedfox but with the climb switch flipped it will rack up vertical all day long as long as you not in a huge hurry. The only thing that felt like it might be holding it back from really big days of climbing are the grippy but slow rolling Onza Ibex tires. That’s OK, they rocked on the DH and were well worth the pedaling effort. Getting the most of the suspension is fairly simple as BMC includes an easy to spot sag meter on the top rocker with a range from soft to firm. I started out on the soft side of the spectrum and while traction was primo the pedaling penalty was a bit more hit than I wanted to take. I added around 10 psi to take me up to the firm end of the sag range and for a snappy feel where out of the saddle efforts didn’t feel completely wasted.
When it’s time to transition from climbing for vertical to boosting for vertical the short chainstays and super nimble chassis make quick work of jump lines. I had the Speedfox out for several spring sunset jump sessions this year and was pretty stoked on how playful the chassis felt snapping through our winding gap lines. Other than having to stop to lower the saddle a bit due to the limited drop of the 125 mm Reverb there was little to do to transition from trail ride to jump session. Rolling back into manuals was just about effortless on those sub 17″ chainstays and had me front wheel high at every opportunity.
Getting out for a little Enduro-bro action, I found the Speedfox Trailcrew was more inclined to play around on every little hit than hug the ground for maximum speed. I wouldn’t want discourage anyone from showing up to their local race with this ride but really the Speedfox is all about maximum fun over maximum speed. Put away the Strava and spend the day getting sideways and gapping points that were never meant to be connected and you’ll be a happy camper.
I’ll just put it out there that I’ve not necessarily gotten along with Cane Creek’s Double Barrel Inline in the past. On a few bikes I’ve ridden it has left me wanting but it’s really quite well matched with BMC’s APS suspension. I’ll admit that my tuning time has been limited and maybe it’s just that I’d never been on a well setup Inline. In the case of the Speedfox there have clearly been some quality hours spent on developing the base line tune. Usually, I can’t leave well enough alone but the rear was working so well that I only made the most minor adjustments. On the descents the rear hooks up and tracks very well, easily outperforming the Pike up front. In the steeps the Speedfox’s playful character tends to fall short on absolute confidence but in general, any line I could find was handled in stride if not with the utmost speed. I fiddled with air pressures and the limited external compression adjustments on the Pike RC but struggled to find the balance between support and compliance. I wouldn’t characterize the budget version of the Pike as a total let down but it has its limitations relative to the RCT3 version or other options on the market. Perhaps with a little more time I could have gotten a bit closer to my desired feel with the right count of bottomless tokens. Practically speaking, to hit the price point BMC did, something has to give and overall I’m happy with the suspension package they put together. It also kinda reinforces the notion that the Speedfox is the all-around fun machine in the lineup, not the hardcore race machine.
Wrapping it all up
This is a fun bike, a seriously fun bike that is priced and configured to make most any all-around rider happy. The Speedfox transitions effortlessly from trail bike to jump line shredder to light DH’er. I had two full months of ride aboard the Speedfox Trailcrew and even with a couple other pretty nice options in the garage, I chose to ride this bike almost exclusively during that time. I do enjoy competing and racing but my heart is a little closer to sliding, slashing, popping, and jumping just for the fun of it. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed the Speedfox so much. From a durability perspective, I had only small issues including a creaky cassette and a mushy Reverb otherwise I didn’t put a wrench to it. I guess that makes the Speedfox exactly the kind of bike I’d recommend to any of my friends who want a solid, all around ride for any kind of trail.
MSRP: $5,899 (USD)
APS suspension + CCDB-A Inline = excellent performance
Spec’d well for its price
Cockpit spec needs a little work
Pike RC a little tricky to get setup
The alloy rear end looks a little out place next to the carbon front
Learn more at bmc-switzerland.com