When I set up a bike for review, my first order is to conduct ‘the wheelie test’. If a bike can wheelie well, chances are I’m going to enjoy it. The Speedfox passed with flying colors, I’d even go out on a limb and say it has one of the best balance points on a bike I’ve ridden in recent memory. The fun I had on one wheel on the streets transferred almost entirely to my time on the trail.
Climbing Long, drawn out fire roads and steep, switchbacky singletrack were no match for our Speedfox. The APS suspension design keeps the back wheel planted on the ground even when thrusting up and over rock gardens or uneven terrain. The lack of energy required to get this carbon machine to the top of the trail actually left me wanting to climb more; and climbing is one of my least favorite things to do. Riding it back to back with its 27.5 Speedfox sibling further proved this 29ers propensity to smoke climbs with little effort. Rarely did the bike necessitate any out-of saddle pushes, though I won’t lie, I did have to drop it into granny gear on occasion for some of the steeper sections of long fire road climbs in the Pacific Palisades. That may be a knock on my diet of neon candy and energy drinks more than a reflection of the bike’s capability.
Descending Overall I had an absolute blast on the Speedfox. The larger wheel size had negligible effect on maneuverability on the ground and in the air. I was consistently impressed with how easily I could throw the rear end around switchbacks and still maintain momentum, which we attribute to BMC’s steeper geometry.
The steep head tube angle was hardly noticeable until the fastest wide-open descents. That’s when the head tube angle combined with the short 46-in wheelbase to make things hectic in a hurry. Should all bikes be designed to handle heinous high speed descents though? For 90 percent of riders, the Speedfox is more than enough bike and we realize not everyone lives/rides in an area where steep trails are the norm. Thankfully anytime we went beyond the limits of the Speedfox, the trusted Shimano XT brakes saved us from potential wrecks.
Suspension Rock gardens and small square-edge hits were no match for the Speedfox. Despite the awesome performance on most terrain, the bike’s kryptonite was larger hits and landings off jumps or drops, The bike has a tendency to blow through the travel on big compressions. I first noticed the issue when I was conducting my wheelie test and bunny hopping off curbs. With proper sag, I was still bottoming regularly, so I ended up putting an extra 20-psi in the shock. However, the extra air did not completely remedy the issue. We can’t be too critical of these short coming because, well, the Speedfox just isn’t designed to be hucked off drops and large jumps but in the name of testing, we had to see just where its limit is.