by Dave Anderson
August 14, 2013
Singletrack US Special Agent, Marc Basiliere reports…
While they may be best known for their road bikes, the Swiss company BMC (from Bicycle Manufacturing Company) was, up until creating bikes in support of the 2002 Phonak team, primarily a mountain bike company. Just as they made a conscious decision to bring their full technical knowledge to the road scene, the company is now bringing those resources to the Enduro world. For its first three generations, the BMC Trailfox has been a capable and efficient 5-6in, 26in wheel’d trail bike.
For 2014, things change.
With the goal of creating a bike that speaks to the heart of Enduro riding, BMC took a step back from their existing Trailfox to determine how best to build a long-travel bike that would be efficient on climbs and not only fast but fun on descents. In partnership with their sponsored Trailcrew riders, BMC analysed and prototyped numerous Trailfox configurations, with the goal of building the most efficient, most capable, and fastest bike on the Enduro circuit.
Against a 26in baseline, the team compared the results from 27.5in and 29in test mules- and the outcomes were surprising. Although the 27.5in bikes were 1% faster than the 26in models, BMC found the 29er to be 3% faster than the 27.5in bike. Data in hand, the decision to move to 29in wheels was an easy one.
Given the packaging challenges that big wheels present, BMC had their work cut out for them, but managed some remarkable numbers. By moving the lower of their dual links ahead of the bottom bracket and kicking the base of the seatpost forward, the 150mm travel Trailfox TF01 ended up with 435mm chainstays: 5mm longer than the Specialized Enduro 29 but shorter than 27.5 bikes like the Santa Cruz Bronson and Scott Genius. The front derailleur is now swingarm-mounted via a removable tab and the full-carbon TF01 frame comes in at 2,490g. That 5.5lb weight includes all hardware: seat clamp, frame armour, and even a chainstay-mounted chain guide. All told, the new model is a full 40g lighter than the (26in) 2013 model.
Just as the Fourstroke XC 29er is optimized for a 60mm stem, the 2014 Trailfox is designed around a 50mm stem for all sizes. The long top tube, short chainstays, and 51mm fork offsets aim to balance stability with maneuverability. The top tube has been dropped significantly when compared to Trailfoxes past and the split top tube junction has been set aside for a handsome, low-slung machine. Cable routing has gone internal for shifting, brakes, and dropper post routing and ISCG mount is provided for those who need more than BMC’s stock chainguide.
While UK pricing has yet to be set, the upper end won’t be cheap.
The flagship full-carbon TF01 level comes built with either Shimano XTR or SRAM XX1 groups, Kashima-coated Fox 34 forks, and suitably top-shelf finishing kit at €9,000/$11,000 and €7,000/9,000.
The TF02 level is built with an aluminum rear triangle and XT or SLX groups for €5,000/$6,600 and €4,000/$5,600.
Finally, the all-aluminum TF03 brings the same suspension and geometry within reach at €3,000/$4,000 for an SLX build.
Though the proof will be in the riding, on paper BMC has put together a compelling case for the big wheel/big travel combination. That said, we’ll have to get one in the woods to find out for sure.