Editor in Chief Robin Schmitt has been aboard the BMC Trailfox TF01 XX1 Trailcrew since March. After 30 hours of riding and 10.000 metres descending as well as our first-look-article, it’s time for a test report. “That I’m a fan of 29-ers doesn’t need repeating, last year I rode the Specialized Enduro 29 Expert Carbon, this year the Trailfox”, says Robin. So the question is: what is BMC’s 6.999-Euro-Swiss sled capable of?
6.999 Euro, 12,3 kg fighting weight, 29″ wheels and 150mm front and rear travel – these are the parameters of the full-carbon enduro machine. With its well-considered and high-end spec the BMC got us hot straight away.
Personal modifications and set-up. The only change was to install a Tubeless set-up, which with the DT Swiss XM 1501 Spline ONE wheels and Continental Mountain King 2.4″ tyres was quick and easy.
The cockpit is based around a 55 mm short Easton-stem and the BMC own brand 750 mm wide carbon-flatbar, we were happy with it straight away. The two 1cm spacers were re-installed under the stem to compensate for the short 95mm steerer tube.
The 150 mm drop RockShox Reverb Stealth telescopic seatpost was a great choice especially when considering the slightly bigger dimensions of a 29-er it gave maximum freedom to move around on the bike. Riding aggressively with a bit of dynamic acrobatics there might be some contact between your back tyre and your shorts.
Riders will quickly feel at home on the BMC thanks to the central, slightly upright position on the bike. The bike accelerates efficiently and is wonderfully nimble. The big wheels and their greater contact pitch offer great traction on climbs. Even on the steepest ascents there is plenty of pressure over the front wheel. The APS suspension system bobs a little but considering the 150mm travel it is well within the acceptable range. If you want it really quiet out back just close the CTD compression damping of the Fox Float X shock. The different CTD-modes are clearly noticeable.
Riding downhill the Trailfox reaches its full potential. The central, balanced position on the bike gives the rider a feeling of complete control. With a 30 mm bottom bracket-drop combined with the 1173 mm long wheelbase the bike feels secure on the trail. The 67° head angle is spot on and balances well with the short 435 mm chainstays, together they tread the tightrope between agility and straight line stability very well. The 29-er can be willingly navigated through tight and wide corners, the fine steering precision and straight-line tracking will make you smile. Part of this precision is from the plush, bump-hungry suspension. The APS rear end and Fox Float X are smooth and absorb everything that the big wheels can’t just roll-over. The rear suspension has just the right end-progression so that the BMC uses full travel but never bottoms out. On pre-jumps and in corners the chassis gives great feedback and can be actively engaged.
Overall the 2.4″ Continental Mountain King tyres gripped well but could feel a little bit more solid and offer better braking traction. In-spite of the small 28-tooth ring the chain remained reliably in place, assisted no doubt by the small chainstay mounted guide.
Under heavy pedalling forces the tyre rubs against the chainguide, which only just has enough room in the tightly calculated rear end. Neither the flexible mounting under the frame nor numerous re-adjustments could entirely cure the problem.
A further drawback is that the 175mm SRAM XX1 cranks leave marks on the rear swingarm. The combination of crank flex and the wide rear frame caused the small abrasion on the chainstay.
Last but not least the bearings fitted to the VPP rear end have loosened twice. At least we always had the right tools on-board thanks to the S.W.A.T.–tool.
All in all the BMC shines with extremely high fabrication quality, outstanding performance and a well chosen spec. Very little clearance, cranks rubbing on the frame and a chainguide, which regularly contacts the tyre show how close the engineers have pushed the limits.
Words: Robin Schmitt | Pictures: Christoph Bayer, Ludwig Döhl, Robin Schmitt