First Ride | BMC Launch New Speedfox Trailcrew 650B
When we think of bikes from Swiss brand BMC, terms like ‘for racing only’, ‘superlight carbon 29er’ and ‘very expensive’ spring to mind. BMC themselves confess the product team has been focused on the ‘getting down to business’ aspect of mountain bike wheel sizes for the past few years by concentrating on 29er wheels and tailoring the BWC (Big Wheel Concept) geometry, so why have they made a 650b 150 mm trail bike?
Now, performance is important for sure, but many riders just want to grab a bike and go for a ride, blow off some steam and have a brilliant time shredding through the turns, many don’t care about saving a couple of grams in the pursuit of brutal performance and just want to have a fun. BMC are now very keen to distance themselves from a race only reputation, and have released a new bike that claims to meet the requirements of this – the most popular sector of the market. The new bike has been designed around the most difficult quality to measure – pure, unadulterated fun!
BMC believe that for outright speed, 29er is their weapon of choice, but admit that not everyone is obsessed with pure speed and there is a lot of room left for a fun and playful bike. This is a shift in BMC‘s philosophy, away from pure performance to a more enjoyable package, and they are excited to announce this new approach. The new Speedfox Trailcrew uses a similar geometry recipe to that found in their ‘big wheel concept’, but is now jokingly referred to as the ‘not so big wheel concept’.
When asked about the inspiration for the new bike, Antoine Lyard BMC MTB Product Manager explain “To ensure the bike represents the Trailcrew mindset of “less race, more fun” BMC’s engineers have targeted a different APS suspension kinematic than in the past. Previously, the Speedfox line was a targeted 50:50 ratio of pedaling and descending. The Speedfox Trailcrew however aims for more of a 50/60 ratio of pedaling to descending fun… we’re taking the stoke factor to an 11!” With a goal of plushness, the new kinematic promotes a higher stroke ratio and more progressive spring rate than the Trailfox 29.
So where does this fit into BMC‘s lineup, they explain: “In the current age of specificity with bike models, riders are curious about how this fits into the line of trail and enduro bikes offered by BMC – the Speedfox Trailcrew is a Speedfox because it’s meant to be a pleasure – orientated (rather than performance-orientated) trail bike. Its 29er brother will address those looking for more climbing capability and confidence-inspiring descending, whereas the Speedfox Trailcrew has a more playful character. It is more about spontaneity and messing around and having pure fun on two wheels.”
BMC continue “The Speedfox Trailcrew 02 frame is built with a carbon front triangle, while the 03 comes with an alloy front. Both models share an alloy rear triangle. While the 02 (carbon/alloy) and 03 (alloy/alloy) designation are not new to BMC, the Trailcrew geometry is. Engineers took the opportunity to snug up the rear wheel with 428 mm chainstays and slacken the headtube 2˚ from the Speedfox 29 to a relaxed 66.5˚ and a front-center very similar to its bigger wheeled brethren. Inspired by BMC’s 29er ‘Big Wheel Concept’, the Speedfox Trailcrew continues to maintain a long reach, short stem, and wide handlebars (750 mm).”
We like that the new bike uses a standard 6902 bearing throughout all the pivots keeping servicing cheaper and easier. The ISCG device is removable giving you the choice of running a chain device, or removing it to save weight and clean up the lines at the bottom bracket. BMC worked closely with Cane Creek, and spent lots of time in Whistler working to produce a custom and effective shock tune for the CCDB Inline. The long front centre, slack head angle and a compact 428 mm (while keeping complete front derailleur compatibility) chainstays keep the handling stable, while maintaining an engaging pop and flick in the turns.
First Ride Impressions
We caught up with the BMC team in the Tweed Valley Scotland, while they were preparing for the Enduro World Series race and they had the first run of Speedfox Trailcrew 02‘s for us to test. With some of Scotland’s best trails on the doorstep we were keen to get out and put the bike through its paces.
From the outset the team behind the Speedfox Trailcrew were keen for us to focus on the shock tune, as it was something they were really proud of. Setting the bike up with 30 % sag on the rear and the Pike‘s just as I like them (18 % sag with a few clicks of low speed compression and 9 clicks out on the rebound) revealed a very active bike. We were worried initially that the bike was a little too active and may struggle with repeated hits, but that did not prove to be the case. Climbing on the bike seemed very composed with little feedback from the pedals, and it showed an excited turn of speed up the hills, a bit like an enthusiastic puppy. The slightly higher front end (compared to what the tester would normally ride) gave a comfortable and upright position which made hill climbing enjoyable and social in the group.
So how did the bike descend? Well, there are a lot of 150 mm bikes on the market at the moment and they all go down a hill very well, exceptionally well in fact, so what makes the new BMC Speedfox Trailcrew different? We have to applaud BMC‘s suspension experts, as the tune of the shock is great. The rebound feels quite fast, resulting in an engaging, poppy ride, making it easy to loft the bike into the air at a moment’s notice. It all feels harmonious and very well balanced. Riding the Speedfox Trailcrew, it was clear that this was a bike that loves to get airborn. Charging down the trail every single trail bump became a launch ramp, every rise a kicker, it’s a bike that loves to hop and skip down the trail. The supportive suspension is easy to load up near the end of its stroke, and a combination of a playful, fast shock tune and short rear end make you want to pump and pop the life out of it.
It’s an easy bike to ride fast, with a high front end and long front centre, it’s easy to throw around without feeling nervous or twitchy, and the deep feeling suspension is there to bail you out should you go too hot into rough ground. The short rear end allows you to either flick, or by pushing through the heels drive the back of the bike sharply around the turns. On a very fast big hit section, the highly active rear end did seem to get a little confused as the hits powered in, but this may be down to having insufficient time to dial in the correct setup.
Full pricing is still being determined but we will bring you news as soon as it is released. We do know that the Speedfox Trailcrew 02 will retail for $ 5899
Terms like ‘stable yet still agile’ and ‘fun playful ride’ are certainly overused terms in the bike industry, and should perhaps be considered as journalistically lazy, but the Speedfox Trailcrew has all that and more – it’s a cracker. If you want to know if this bike is for you, you have to ask yourself a question – If you are totally focussed on shaving milliseconds from your STRAVA PB’s and want a bike that is stoically fast there are bikes that are better designed for that purpose. If you want a bike to grab as soon as you get home from the office for a post work shred, if you desire a bike that makes you feel like a better rider and rewards every pop and slide with a massive grin, then the BMC Speedfox Trailcrew is damn good.
Words: Trev Worsey
Photos: Trev Worsey and Jeremie Reullier