BMC AMP Speedfox

BMC Gets AMP’ed

Trailfox and Speedfox

Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Jake Orness

BMC Switzerland recently gathered select media outlets together for some pre-Sea Otter shredding aboard their pedal-assist electric bikes, the Trailfox AMP and Speedfox AMP. We met in the coastal town of Santa Cruz, California and settled into our beachfront hotel. Beautiful as it was, we were just outside the range of the untold number of trails the city is famous for, but as we soon learned – when you’ve got the juice, your normal riding routine changes.

After checking into our rooms and taking the predictably vane photo from our balcony overlooking the ocean we headed down to the conference room for a buffet lunch and product presentation. Along with North American marketing personnel, BMC flew over some key Swiss employees like Antoine Lyard, product manager and a wealth of knowledge when it came time to show off their fancy power point presentation.

BMC AMP eBikes

BMC was admittedly late to the eMTB party compared to their European competitors. The AMP bike project began in late 2015 while so many other brands were experiencing double-digit growth in the new segment of pedal assist bike sales. “We were always a race brand,” said Lyard, “those who knew us viewed our bikes as high performance, light weight race machines” he continued.

After seeing that the trend was not fading away, BMC purchased as many e-bikes as they could and drove them to Finale Ligure, Italy for some group testing. Lyard shared, “We had no idea what they were going to perform like or what to expect so we started making lists of what we did and did not like about each bike.” From there the brand continued to make trips and test bikes until they had developed a proper-riding mountain bike that integrated a motor into the frame.

Having in-house carbon molding and CNC capabilities allowed BMC to quickly prototype and test frames until they were satisfied. BMC’s Impec Lab began by modifying a Trailfox to see just how much tweaking their stock frame needed to make it ride right with the extra weight and range the motor would bring. The information learned in those trials eventually morphed into two models of e-bikes, the Trailfox AMP and Speedfox AMP.

BMC AMP Trailfox

Trailfox AMP

The burlier option, this 150mm 27.5 eMTB features a fully carbon frame molded around a Shimano Steps E8000 motor. BMC chose to use carbon, more specifically their Twin Hollow-core Tube Design. This allowed them to create the Drive Unit Nest. It’s a lot of marketing jargon for an aesthetically pleasing design feature that allows the motor unit to be tucked up into the frame a bit more than some others on the market.

BMC was also able to tuck a neat little speed sensor in the non-drive side chainstay near the dropout so you’ll never have to worry about losing a magnet on your spokes! The magnet is in the rear brake rotor and also gives a more instantaneous reading on speed, which is important for the Shimano system’s algorithm in determining power output assistance.

BMC AMP Trailfox

Like BMC’s mountain bikes, their APS dual link, instant center suspension design handles the hits. The company has been using their APS platform for roughly 20 years. We’ve enjoyed the system on several test bikes over the years and the e-bike adapted version worked just as well. Efficiency isn’t quite as important when you’ve got juice on your side so BMC focused on performance from a slightly different angle. The Trailfox AMP is tuned with 100% anti-squat at sag.

They claim the tuning allows for very free suspension movement while under load. It requires some different design parameters for sure as power delivery with e-bikes is much closer to 360-degrees rather than the typical push/pull output exerted by our low-tech legs.

BMC AMP Trailfox

Along with tweaking the kinematics and shock tune, BMC realized that certain moving parts like links and bearings would be seeing more work on their e-bikes. Weight may be the first logical thought that comes to mind when beefing up vital parts. While the weight is certainly an issue, the bolstered hardware only further proved that BMC had really been putting the miles on their test mules.

With people’s work schedules, fitness and other commitments, the average Joe probably only gets to ride their mountain bike 15-30 miles a week. With the ability to sneak out a quick 5-8 miler after work or add an additional 5-10 miles on your weekend ride thanks to the increased average speed of the AMP, BMC realized these bikes would be seeing a lot more abuse simply because they’d see more mileage. The lower link is increased by 60% and the bearing size is also 27% larger than its human-powered counterpart.

BMC AMP Speedfox

Speedfox AMP

Where the Trailfox AMP is BMC’s burly all mountain offering, the 29-inch wheeled Speedfox AMP is the brand’s all-around trail bike. This 130mm trail bike sports all of the same features as the Trailfox, but in a less aggressive package.

Like the Trailfox, BMC uses APS suspension and the Shimano Steps E8000 motor. The length of the newly designed swingarm and stays on the Speedfox is 449mm. Speedfox employs the Twin Tube Hollow-core tube design, oversized lower link, Drive Unit Nest, clever frame protection on the chainstay and an integrated speed sensor also like the Trailfox AMP.

BMC AMP Speedfox
BMC AMP Trailfox

The Dirt

We were lucky enough to have two riders attending the ride day so we had the unique opportunity to ride both bikes on our day out. After some bouncing around in the parking lot of our hotel we were ready for the shuttle to pick us up. As we sat around looking for a big van to roll up, we were instructed to mount up and power the bikes. We looked around at each other knowing we were several miles from any trailhead we knew of.

We powered up and zipped out of the parking lot and turned left on the coastal bike path. Even if you hate e-bikes, you probably hate traffic more! The fact you can now leave the truck behind and pedal to the trails is a very redeeming quality and one we didn’t think about when this whole trend started sweeping the bike world.

We pedaled into a rather aggressive headwind at 20-MPH. on the edge of the Pacific and watched as the hills got closer. Our photographer drove over in a van and we ended up getting to the trail at the same time, even with a scenic detour.

BMC AMP Trailfox

It’s pretty needless to say that climbing performance is impressive compared to the non-E-versions of the Trailfox and Speedfox we’d ridden before. We ascended steep grades with elevated heart rates and heavy breathing, but didn’t feel like we needed a break at the top. This is another part of what allows riders to ride more miles on e-bikes. Less recovery stops and refueling time means more shredding!

The Shimano Steps E8000 motor is currently our favorite. The system relies on several factors to give you a natural boost when you need it and less when you don’t. The shifter is located on the left side of the bars and easily lets the pilot choose between Eco, Trail or Boost modes, making it easy to tune the amount of power for your current trail needs.

BMC AMP Speedfox

Geometry on both bikes was pretty spot on for the terrain we were riding in Santa Cruz. If you like the security of having more travel and a slacker head angle for gnarlier terrain, the Trailfox AMP is definitely going to be your preferred option. If you live in an area with more rolling terrain or want a bike that’s going to help you get in big miles, the 29-inch wheeled Speedfox may be worth looking at. We did have one gripe on the spec of the Speedfox AMP however. The stem was too long and affected our confidence on the descents. When you’ve got a motor on your side, having the ability to lean down over the front end on the climbs isn’t really necessary anymore and we believe the bike’s spec should take that into account.

Suspension performance on both bikes was pretty impressive overall. The Speedfox has a less progressive spring rate out back so once again and the fork also felt a little divey, if you’re a heavier rider or want to push this 130mm bike a bit harder, be prepared to add some volume reducers. Small bump sensitivity was on point with the best e-bikes we’ve ridden and when it came time to send the Trailfox deep into some chundery section of trail, it remained composed. Making it our favorite of the two bikes on this day.

BMC AMP Trailfox

The Wolf’s Last Word

A few short hours in a fairly flowy trail network isn’t quite enough for us to comprehensively review the bikes by any means, however our initial impressions of both the Speedfox AMP and Trailfox AMP are good. We opted to get a Trailfox AMP delivered to the Wolf Den for further review and we look forward to spending a lot of time bashing it on some local trails.

For more info visit, www.bmc-switzerland.com

TRAILFOX AMP TWO

Sizes: S, M, L
Price: $7499

 

BMC AMP Trailfox

CHASSIS
Frame: Carbon (F), Al-13 Triple-butted aluminum (R), integrated battery pack
Fork: Fox Float 36, Performance, GRIP, S-Ped, Boost (150mm)
Rear Shock: Fox Float DPS, Performance, Evol, (150mm)

ELECTRONICS
Drive unit: Shimano STEPS MTB E-8000, 250W, 70Nm output
Battery pack: Shimano STEPS MTB E-8020, 500Wh, integrated
Control Switch: Shimano SW-E8000-L Firebolt

COCKPIT
Shifter: Shimano XT
Brakes: Magura MT5 (200/200)
Handlebar: BMC MRB 02, 780mm
Stem: BMC AMSM 02
Seatpost: RaceFace Aeffect Dropper 150mm
Seat: WTB Volt Race

WHEELS
Hubs: DT Swiss H1700 Spline
Rims: DT Swiss H700 Spline 35
Tires: Maxxis HR II Exo 27,5×2,8 (F), Maxxis Rekon Silkworm 27,5×2,8 (R)

DRIVETRAIN
Chainwheel: Shimano FC-E8000, 34T
Cassette: Shimano SLX, 11-46T
Chain: Shimano CN-HG601
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT, Shadow Plus

SPEEDFOX AMP TWO

Sizes: S, M, L
Price: $7499

 

BMC AMP Speedfox

CHASSIS
Frame: Carbon (F), Al-13 Triple-butted aluminum (R), integrated battery pack
Fork: RockShox Revelation RC (130mm)
Rear Shock: Fox Float DPS, Performance, Evol, (130mm)

ELECTRONICS
Drive unit: Shimano STEPS MTB E-8000, 250W, 70Nm output
Battery pack: Shimano STEPS MTB E-8020, 500Wh, integrated
Control Switch: Shimano SW-E8000-L Firebolt

COCKPIT
Shifter: Shimano XT
Brakes: Shimano XT (200/200)
Handlebar: BMC MFB 02, 750mm
Stem: BMC MSM 02
Seatpost: RaceFace Aeffect Dropper 125mm
Seat: WTB Volt Race

WHEELS
Hubs: RaceFace Aeffect -R
Rims: RaceFace Aeffect -R 30
Tires: Maxxis Forekaster EXO, 2.35

DRIVETRAIN
Chainwheel: Shimano FC-E8000, 34T
Cassette: Shimano XT, 11-46T
Chain: Shimano CN-HG701
Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT, Shadow Plus

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