BMC Agonist XC race machine first ride

BMC delivers a worthy bike in a category they fully understand

29er Cross Country
BMC Agonist

A massive wooden bridge spanning a river gorge was constructed for pedestrians and cyclists. Photo by Stephan Boegli

What is it?

The Agonist, is BMC‘s new XC racing rig aimed at technical courses and endurance events. Aggressive XC rigs with steep head angles and 100mm of front travel are fast but who wants to ride those beyond two hours or everyday outside of racing? We think the Agonist with 110mm of front and rear travel is ideal for the rider who wants to go fast and far. Hit a local XC race or go exploring for six hours on undiscovered terrain with the Agonist. Tackle that 8-hour endurance race, Leadville or even that Downieville XC course with this bike which gives you the best chance to beat your PR’s or personal records.

BMC Agonist

The bike reveal was done in a venue only the Swiss can pull off, a train en route to the destination. Photo by Stephan Boegli

It sports 29er wheels of course with a head angle of 69.5 and a seat angle of 73.75. Chainstay at 445mm is on the longer side for comfort and stability. Frame weight is 2180 grams or 5.5 lbs. And the bike is fast, fast, fast. It’s comfortable at speed and it gobbles up climbs and flat fire roads like no other. It’s the bike that BMC knows how to build well.

BMC Agonist

Elegant lines of the Agonist were appreciated as the train sped to the trailhead. Photo by Stephan Boegli

How does it ride?

Our route to check out the Agonist was a 30 mile, 3500 foot climb trek in the Kander Valley of Switzerland. With about 20 journalists that usually enjoy All Mountain rides, the otherwise daunting route was no big deal with this bike. Everyone pedaled up and traversed the flat connecting fire roads efficiently and with little drama. This is the greatest testimonial to this bike as it really is efficient in covering lots of ground. With the APS suspension and Vittoria Barzo 29er tires, miles just ticked away on the odometer. Bike was comfortable and best when propelled forward with the Eagle drivetrain.

BMC Agonist

We traversed many farms and trails with the BMC Agonist. Photo by Stephan Boegli

Rear suspension was quite progressive and it was a challenge to get the full 110mm of travel even with proper sag. It ramped up quite a bit so we’d be curious to try this rear shock with less volume spacers to make the travel more linear. The coupled front/rear suspension lockout lever was slick. This lever is made by BMC and is decidedly Swiss with its precise action, unlike the sloppy ones common in the market today. It worked well and was handy in the fire road climbs. Our only wish is that this lever should be located on the bottom of the left side handlebar instead of on top.

BMC Agonist

The view is always big and breathtaking in Switzerland. Photo by Stephan Boegli

On the descents, the bike was smooth, stable and predictable. Singletrack rollers were a breeze. But none of the bikes had a dropper post so it was a bit of a challenge when things got hairy. Some may argue that this type of bike does not need a dropper but we’ll just have to call those folks misguided. We’re firm believers that some riders may not need droppers but some riders do because their riding style adapts when cornering and jumping. In the end, it’s the terrain that demands it and a dropper will give this bike a bigger sweet spot of trail applications.

BMC Agonist

Traversing many miles is the specialty of the Agonist. Photo by Stephan Boegli

There’s no internal dropper cable routing dedicated to it per se but the front derailleur cable hole is perfectly suited for it. Since we’re huge believers in 1×12 drivetrains as well, this becomes a non-issue.

In the end, a few cockpit changes like wider bars and shorter stem plus dropper post would make this a very versatile bike. Tackle a technical XC race, a burly endurance epic or a multi-day stage race like the BC Bike Race in Canada. Bundle in all the training rides and exploration rides and this could be a key bike in the stable.

BMC Agonist

Cross Country pedigree but with a persuasion towards endurance is the target of the Agonist. Photo by Stephan Boegli

What didn’t we like?

The lack of the dropper post is a key request from us. And wider bars with the remote lockout under the bar would be a close second.

Looking at the build kits, the top end bike come with Eagle 1×12 but the two more affordable option have a double front chainring. We definitely would want a lower cost 1×12 or 1×11 option.

BMC Agonist Geometry

Geometry is aggressive but with a modern touch.

Pricing

Two of the lower priced models are at $4,900 for an XT/SLX bike or an XT / Deore option for a Swiss bargain price of $3,900. We rode the full carbon X01 1×12 Eagle build priced at $7,500.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Don says:

    If you add a dropper, you’ll probably be glad that the remote for the shock is on top of the bar, so you can put the dropper remote underneath since you’d tend to use the dropper a lot more.

    The bike still seems pretty steep for an “aggressive xc.” A head angle a degree slacker would have made more sense. Even the 100mm Scott Spark RC is 68.5deg now.

  • Tom says:

    Add a dropper, wider bars, and a shorter stem, and presto, you’ve got….a slightly under-suspended trail bike.

    This bike will be a rocket for it’s intended use: endurance racing (once you add a Fox 34 fork, that is)!

  • TimB says:

    the bike doesn’t need a dropper full stop. Its a marathon bike which means 70-120km rides for multiple days. You really don’t want the extra maintenance during stage races. K.I.S.S….
    Get over yourselves and droppers. They’re great on trail bikes. Leave it at that.
    And the bars are plenty wide enough btw…

  • Goahead says:

    Weight please?

  • zipp23 says:

    for some reason everyone is trying to deform every discipline into trail. xc: add a dropper, cx: add a dropper, road: add a dropper, tt: add a dropper….I suspect a conspiracy…

  • Andrew says:

    Suppose if you want a dropper (Fox Transfer), wider bars, shorter stem then go more for the 120mm Scott Spark. But for a *more agressive XC racer* doing marathons I still think no dropper, ~720mm bar and ~90mm stem about right for the application. But heck who cares? All these parts are cheap enough, easy to get hold of and at least then you have a full choice.

  • Andrew says:

    Ouch, poorly researched. See the bike comes with 720mm bar and 70mm stem out of the box which one can’t fault for anything XC.

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