BMC Speedfox 02 XT
Words by Sourpatch // Photos by Chili Dog
BMC is a name most commonly seen beneath shaved, lycra-clad riders with great tans, but the company produces more than top of the line road bikes and XC race machines. The same performance pedigree is evident in the Speedfox, but is aimed at riders with more dietary variation than lettuce and coconut water. BMC’s 29er trail bike is a high-performance machine built with a purpose. With comparatively steep angles to a lot of other trail rigs, this is a bike that ain’t afraid to go uphill. Don’t let that scare you though. While it may not abide the LLS (Longer, Lower, Slacker) trend, that doesn’t stop it from being a really solid all around bike for the typical trail rider who’s not going big on their daily loop.
The Speedfox 02 XT is BMC’s mid-grade offering. Sporting a carbon front triangle and a triple-butted aluminum rear triangle, the 02 comes decked out with a Shimano XT group, including an ancient contraption called a front derailleur. Suspension duties on this 130mm build are handled by Fox’s Performance series Float 34 fork and Float DPS shock. BMC employs their Advanced Pivot System, which is a dual short-link design that moves in a concentric motion. According to BMC, the APS platform is designed to have a balanced leverage ratio, maintain braking performance, minimize pedal kickback and maximize efficiency. We would have liked a slightly more aggressive curve for end of travel progressivity.
Geo The numbers on the Speedfox clearly follow BMC’s XC pedigree. We may be comparing apples to Swiss chocolate but our recent adventures aboard the Trek Fuel EX and YT Jeffsy are the only real 2017 comparisons we have to this 130mm trail rig. Speedfox numbers land somewhere between the two bikes in most areas besides seat tube and head tube. You may have guessed it, they’re steeper – 68.25 degrees at the head tube and 73.25 degrees at the seat tube. Wheelbase is also a bit shorter at 46.02 inches (1169mm). The BMC sports a 24.96 top tube and 17.72-inch reach, which is longer than the large YT Jeffsy (24.52-in and 17.52-in) but has a shorter reach than the large (19.5) Trek Fuel EX (24.89-in and 18.31-in). The combination of steeper angles and shorter wheelbase make the Speedfox a lot of fun when climbing, zipping around flat turns, or navigating techy bits of trail.
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.
The Wolf’s Last Word
The Speedfox 02 is a blast to ride on most of the trails that SoCal has to offer. It is a 130mm travel rocket ship. Even though it excelled in tame to moderate terrain, the bike quickly shows its limitations. If I were looking to regularly ride anything rowdier I would be wanting more than the bike could offer. I would not recommend this bike to someone who likes to send their bikes as deep as they can, or those that like to charge into big rock gardens. If you are looking for an efficient, ripping trail bike for smoother terrain and don’t spend much time getting airborne, this bike is a lot of fun. It seems BMC may have designed this bike for true XC-pinners who are just looking for a bit more travel or riders who live in twisty, flowy terrain with small sections of chatter on the trails. On days when we’re headed out to smash high-speed XC loops, the Speedfox will be our go-to machine, however when we want to get out and get rowdy, we may opt for something a bit more capable.
Sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
Weight: 29.4 lbs (w/ pedals)
Frame: Premium Carbon with, Al-13 Triple-butted aluminum rear triangle
Fork: Fox Float 34, Performance, Grip, 3-Pos (130mm)
Shock: Fox Float DPS, Performance, Evol, 3-Pos (130mm)
Brakes: Shimano XT
Handlebar: BMC MFB 02, 750mm
Saddle: WTB Volt Race
Seatpost: Rock Shox Reverb Stealth
Shifter: Shimano XT
Stem: BMC MSM 02
Hubs: DT Swiss M1700 Spline
Rims: DT Swiss M1700 Spline
Tires: Onza Ibex FRC 120 (F) / Canis FRC 60 (R), 2.25
Bottom Bracket: Shimano
Cassette: Shimano XT, 11-40T
Cranks: Shimano XT, 34-24T
Derailleurs: Shimano XT; 2x11spd
Blows Through Travel on Big Compressions
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