2017 BMC Speedfox first look

120mm trail bike with integrated dropper and rear shock action

27.5 29er All Mountain Trail
BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox 01 One model. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

What is it?

The Speedfox is a very capable steed with 120mm front and rear travel. With a dropper post integral to this ride, BMC designed a system that opens the rear shock when it’s down and puts it in Trail mode when it’s up. Does it work? Read on and find out.

BMC is a company deeply rooted in road and cross-country racing so they couldn’t get too aggressive with their trail geometry. They stuck with a 27.5 and 29er version of the bike depending on size with a 68.25 degree head angle and 73.25 seat angle.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox with APS rear suspension system is an efficient climber. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

To differentiate the bike from the crowded Trail Bike field, they designed an integrated dropper post and rear shock solution. The premise is that when the saddle is dropped, the bike should always be in the Open position, optimized for descending. This is indeed true and we cannot think of a situation on the trail when the rider would want the rear shock in any other mode. But then they also assumed that when the dropper or saddle is in the highest position, the rider would want the bike in Trail mode or middle position. This is a riskier assumption because although generally true, the rider may want the rear suspension in Open mode or even Firm mode.

We rode the bike for our couple days in some demanding trails in Switzerland to get to know it better.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox climbed well despite the rider’s shortcomings at high elevation. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

How does it ride?

Like many BMC bikes, it is a fast climber that gobbles up the miles with relative ease. Chainstay length at 449mm for the 29er is not very short so this rides like a more stable, sure-footed character rather than a quick cornering machine. Every component on the bike blended well with the system and we were able to handle some technical terrain as well as fire road traverses with it.

The focus of the test rides was on the integrated dropper technology of course as the rear shock went into Trail mode automatically when the saddle was raised. With the saddle drop, the rear shock was switched to Open mode by the dropper automatically.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox with a Swiss water crossing. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

Honestly, we don’t often reach down and switch between Open and Trail mode often on our home trails because they are often cumbersome to reach and activate. And we’re often caught forgetting to switch back and doing the best descent of the day on Trail mode, which is not ideal. In Europe, the climbs and descents are long so remote lockout switches are all the rage. More than one marketing manager told me that it is almost impossible to sell a Trail Bike in Europe if it doesn’t have a remote lockout lever.

So there is a decent rationale for an integrated suspension lockout solution. The modes are handy but the remote lockouts are cumbersome to use and they create handlebar and cable clutter. Some folks want the suspension modes but many don’t want switching them dozens of times during a long ride.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox bottom linkage sports an anti-debris rubber flap. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

The BMC Speedfox system called the Trailsync actually worked well!! We used the dropper dozens of times during each ride it was always Open during descending and it was always on Trial mode when the saddle was raised. For the trails that we rode, this was the correct setting 100% of the time. As you’ll see in the photos, the vistas were grand with rough descents and smooth climbs and traverses.

On very rough climbs like those found in Sedona or Moab, we can see situations where the rider would want to be in Open mode to gain comfort and traction up the climbs. But even in those cases, the rider can put the saddle in middle position which puts the rear suspension in open mode while still allowing enough saddle height for technical climbs. Another key factor is we’ve seen the future of rear shocks and they’re becoming noticeably more bump-compliant in Trail mode. So the future is certainly headed towards rear shocks that climb and absorb hits better in Trail mode while still providing a good pedaling platform.

BMC Speedfox was perfect for this kind of swoopy terrain. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

BMC Speedfox was perfect for this kind of swoopy terrain. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

What we didn’t like?

First generation technology always has its compromises and we were not crazy about the proprietary undamped seatpost action with only 100mm of travel on Medium sized bikes. The lever is the same as the old Maverick Speedball dropper lever and although versatile, it is far from ideal on today’s 1x cockpits more handlebar real estate available.

Also we did not like that one was locked in the system and could not install the dropper post of their choice. There’s no seat collar on the frame so a standard post cannot be accommodated. As an option for those who insist on using their own dropper, there is a low-cost, aluminum version of the Speedfox that doesn’t have Trailsync and allows riders to use the dropper post of their choice

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox with breathtaking views. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

Final Word

We actually had a great time with the bike and are glad to see BMC pushing the boundaries of control integration on the bike. It’s a first-generation product so they had to make a few assumptions and compromises along the way but they are going to keep evolving the system and refining it for how riders want to use it.

For a rider doing epic rides or races like the multi-day BC Bike Race, Trailsync is a great solution. Not having to operate a rear remote shock lockout hundreds of times in a multi-stage race will certainly enhance the riding experience while reducing rider fatigue and error.

  • Speedfox 01 One: $7499
  • Base Model: $2199 (aluminum frame and no dropper post integration)
BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox rides always involves technical, rocky segments. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

Riding in Grimentz and Verbier Switzerland

As you can see in the photos, riding in Switzerland is absolutely mind blowing. The vistas are so grand that they’re difficult to capture on the screen. Grimentz is a historic town with a very deep heritage and they’ve now embraced mountain biking, opening up their hotels and trails for mountain bike adventures.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox with train shuttle. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

Verbier is an iconic ski town and they’ve done a lot to improve their mountain bike product. Trails continue to be added and we can honestly say that a few of them are world-class Whistler quality.

BMC Speedfox

BMC Speedfox planned route for the day in the Swiss Alps. Photo by Jeremie Reuiller

For more info visit www.bmc-switzerland.com. For more beta on Verbier mountain biking head to verbierbikepark.ch and discover Val d’Anniviers (Grimentz)
mountain biking at www.valdanniviers.ch.

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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