This seat angle is comparatively steep compared to many other bikes right now, but frankly that’s one of my favorite things about the bike. I don’t have to slam the seat forward on the post or scoot my ass forward on the nose to keep the front end weighted. I get to keep my bum square on the saddle right where it should be, which is also the most comfortable. Our test bike was a size large, and being 5’11, I often land between the medium and large debate – not so with the BMC. The 455mm reach and 55mm stem was perfect. The bike felt so balanced and neutrally weighted it was almost scary how good it felt straight out of the box!
Things started out good but a few months into testing, myself and the other testers were struggling with a rear end that blew through travel and struggled over tech or big chunky rocks. Ultimately we traced it to a blown rear IL shock. After a quick email to Cane Creek, we got the redesigned Inline and the bike’s personality changed drastically for the better. Though the bike isn’t the most aggressive in terms of technical terrain, the modest head angle, short stays and low BB make it a ton of fun and the new shock was sensitive, supportive and very tunable. The wheels were a little flexy for aggressive riding. While the flex was forgivable, the mediocre hub engagement was hard to ignore. I have a really slow and semi technical 1.5 mile climb just down the road from my house. The trail never changes and needless to say, it’s a great testing ground for me. Climbing this section always led to frustration, and often resulted in stalling out. I might have set the standard a tad high, but I just can’t seem to get over how horrendous the hub engagement is even for a budget hub. Despite the hub, whether climbing chunky rocky singletrack or chasing your XC buddies down a fire road, the Speedfox does hold its own. I did find myself reaching for the Inline’s climb mode on more pedally bits, and really only opening it up on the big descents. It is a very active setup and the shock even has a custom tune just for the Trailcrew.
Once at the peak of the climb, the bike’s demeanor changes. Being in southern California, I spent most of my testing time on dry and rocky, hard pack conditions. The suspension is active and the bike feels light on its feet. Many of the trails I use for testing transition from smooth, fast and flowy, to technical rock gardens and drops. Though the Speedfox 02 is no rock munching plow, it never felt like it got overwhelmed. The fit and geo are dialed for this bike’s intended use. If I had to compare this bike to any others I have ridden it would be the love child of a Santa Cruz Bronson and a Giant Trance. The headtube angle lands at 66.5 degrees, which is smack dab between the 66 of the Bronson and the 67 of the Trance. The balance makes the Trailcrew a bit more composed when pointed down compared to the Giant, and a touch more manageable on the climbs than the Santa Cruz. The small bump compliance with the APS suspension is better than the VPP equipped Bronson, while the 455mm reach of the BMC gave me the extra room I was looking for compared to the Giants’s 447mm reach.