Does the Speedfox live up to its big-trail taming promise?

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 8

BMC Speedfox SF03 Trailcrew 2016

Pros:

  • A trip to FlyUp 417 and BikePark Wales challenged me and the bike to the max, but brought out the best in both of us.
  • Slack, low geometry is ideal for bombing on rough and smooth trails alike.
  • Dual-compound Onza Ibex 2.4in tyres strike a good balance between great traction and quick rolling speed.

Cons:

  • Gun-metal grey and radioactive-vomit colour scheme.
  • 2x10 Shimano drivetrain instantly dates the bike. It’s noisy too.
  • The rear suspension could be tighter and offer more support.

Product:

BMC Speedfox SF03 Trailcrew (2016) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,200.00
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Need to know

  • New 150mm-travel Trailcrew version of the Speedfox
  • 27.5in wheels and 2.4in tyres are aimed at gravity fed riding
  • Trailcrew attitude extends to the specification with a wide bar, stubby stem and dropper post as standard
  • Shimano SLX brakes with 180mm rotors

>>> BMC Speedfox SF02 Trailcrew (2016) first ride

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What attracted you to the BMC Speedfox SF03 Trailcrew?

Well it certainly wasn’t the snappy name. In fact, BMC wasn’t even on our radar. A chance encounter online however, piqued our interest in the SF03 as it instantly ticked a lot of boxes.

Good geometry, 27.5in wheels, 150mm travel, RockShox Pike fork and a dropper post. OK, it’s not got the same level of kit you’d get from the likes of Canyon or YT at this price, but overall it looked like a solid trail bike.

Ibex tyres dished out goat-like grip to match the Pike’s

Ibex tyres dished out goat-like grip to match the Pike’s

Did you change anything straightaway?

No. The Trailcrew version means that, in addition to having 20mm more travel than the 29er Speedfox, the bike comes fitted with a wider bar, shorter stem and bigger tyres as standard.

Old school 2x10 chainset holds the BMC back

We did go on to ditch the front mech, left-hand shifter and stock rings for a Renthal 1XR narrow-wide chainring. Not only did this stop our rides being interrupted by repeatedly dropping the chain and the clang of chain slap, it saved a whopping 370g in the process. Bonus!

Was the bike easy to set up?

We’re not ones for spending too much time with a shock pump in my hand, or for losing sleep over how many clicks of rebound damping we’re running, so thankfully it was really easy to get a ballpark set-up that offered a balanced ride.

The Shimano SLX brakes also deserve a special mention as the lever shape felt great, power was ample with the 180mm rotors and they proved completely trouble-free.

‘Trailcrew’ spec includes a shorter 50mm stem

‘Trailcrew’ spec includes a shorter 50mm stem

How did it ride?

BMC says this is a bike that will allow you to fill your long days on the trail picking sweet lines — ripping berms, whips, scrubs and manuals. And while we still can’t whip or scrub, we can attest that the BMC certainly encourages a dynamic, playful riding style.

And as we discovered last month when riding it back-to-back with the carbon version, it’s every bit as good at hammering roughshod down moorland bridleways as it is flicking between perfectly groomed berms in the Surrey Hills.

The rear suspension can feel saggy and baggy at times though, so we suspect it would be better with a larger volume reducer in the rear shock.

Brilliant SLX brakes

Brilliant SLX brakes

Did anything break or wear out?

No. Even the 125mm drop Fast Ace seatpost was still working perfectly as we boxed the bike up for return to Evans Cycles.

If you could change one thing about the bike what would it be?

That’s easy. It should come with a 1×11 drivetrain as part of the ‘Trailcrew’ package. Sure our 1×10 bodge wasn’t bad, but it lacked the gear range needed for big epic rides and when you’re dropping over £2k on a bike it really should be 1×11.

Would you buy this bike?

No. Good as the BMC is, we’d buy the Canyon Strive AL 6.0 that we tested last month. It’s got 10mm more travel, a higher specification and it’s over 1lb lighter.

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Details

Frame:APS Alloy, 150mm travel
Shock:Fox Float Performance Series

Fork:RockShox Pike RC Solo Air, 150mm travel
Wheels:Shimano M618 hubs, DT Swiss E512 rims, Onza Ibex 27.5×2.4in tyres

Drivetrain:Shimano Deore 2×10 chainset, f-mech and shifters, XT r-mech
Brakes:Shimano SLX, 180mm

Components:Fast Ace seatpost 125mm, Fizik Nisene XS saddle, BMC bar and stem
Weight:14.7kg (32.1lb)

Sizes:XS, S, M, L, XL
Size tested:L

Rider height:5ft 11in
Head angle:65.9°

Seat angle:69.2°
BB height:330mm

Chainstay:427mm
Front centre:761mm

Wheelbase:1,188mm
Down tube:711mm

Top tube:632mm
Reach:450mm