With a price tag of approximately £10,000, it’s a serious investment.
Two years in development, the BMC Trailfox AMP ebike is finally ready. A showstopper at Eurobike, the Trailfox AMP is powered up and ready to shred.
Starting with a clean slate back in 2015, the first prototypes were made in BMC’s carbon Impec lab in Switzerland to check the functionality of the APS suspension with motor assistance and to see if it was possible to reduce the chain stay length with its current suspension layout.
BMC Trailfox AMP need to know
- Three models: AMP LTD, AMP One, AMP Two
- All models share the same frame with a carbon front end and alloy rear triangle
- BMC’s APS suspension delivers 150mm of rear travel
- 150mm suspension fork keeps travel balanced front and rear
- Shimano STEPS MTB E8000, 250W, 70Nn motor
- Shimano STEPS MTB E8020, 500Kw battery pack
- Boost dropout spacing front and rear with 2.8in Plus size tyres
- Three frame sizes: S, M, L
Why did BMC choose the Shimano STEPS motor?
First BMC designed the suspension layout that it wanted with its desired frame geometry, and then it looked at all the motors that allowed it to achieve its desired goals. With the Shimano STEPS motor being one of the most compact designs, it was the obvious choice. BMC also borrowed some ideas from other brands, like placing the wheel magnet between the rotor bolts just like the Specialized Turbo Levo.
The carbon front end isn’t used to save weight.
When a bike weighs in excess of 20kg, the weight saving of using carbon is negligible, so why did BMC employ aerospace technology for its new ebike? In a word… stiffness.
By using a twin-hollowcore carbon down tube BMC could achieve the frame stiffness it desired without having to fully encase the battery pack. By having some of the battery exposed, the down tube on the AMP isn’t as big as other bikes using Shimano E8000 drivetrain. In effect, the downtube acts like a housing that the battery plugs into, where the battery gets a custom cover to protect it.
Tweak to the APS suspension design
Just like the regular version of the BMC Trailfox the AMP gets 150mm travel. The key change being that the APS twin-link design on the AMP has been tweaked to increased progression and anti-squat. This was largely due to the extra weight of the bike but BMC also wanted to make it pedal better. There have been some frame stiffness gains too, as the pivot stance of the lower link has been increased by 60%. The size of the pivot bearings have also grown by the same amount for improved durability.
Notes on the numbers
With only three frame sizes, S, M and L, very tall riders will need to look elsewhere. That said, the proportions on the Trailfox AMP are generous, the size L coming with a 469mm reach measurement and a 1,238mm wheelbase. With relatively short 447mm chainstays, BMC definitely achieved its initial goal, but the rear end isn’t so short as to compromise the bike’s climbing ability.
How does it ride?
We rode the top-end Trailfox 01 AMP LTD from Grimentz to Verbier, Switzerland in what turned out to be mostly fire road and tarmac. Not the ideal proving ground for a 150mm travel ebike, but at least it explained the Maxxis High Roller II/ Rekon tyre choice.
Even with over six hours in the saddle we couldn’t get used to the reverse shift action of the Shimano XTR Di2 shifter, with all of the extra corrective shifts putting an increased drain on battery life and our patience. Thankfully, it’s easy to swap the shift action back to normal with the Shimano app, but why the stock setting is backwards in the first place is anyone’s guess.
There were no such niggles with the Shimano STEPS motor however. Power delivery is seamless and smooth and even when you punch it into Boost mode to rocket up the steepest climbs, the extra assistance builds gradually so as not to cause the rear wheel to spin or put you off balance.
Once in the bike park in Verbier we were able to get a better measure of the AMP’s riding ability and it didn’t disappoint. Like most ebikes the rear suspension tracks superbly well thanks to the extra weight of the frame and the geometry and sizing of the AMP gives you the confidence to attack, rather than simply hanging on to the bike. The Shimano Saint brakes also impressed; not once did they pump up or fade, which is no mean feat given how steep the terrain in Switzerland is.
So that just leaves the small detail of pricing
The top of the range BMC Trailfox 01 AMP LTD that we rode leaves nothing wanting in terms of specification, with the possible exception of the rear tyre. With a price tag of approximately £10,000 however, it’s a serious investment and you have to question the durability of carbon wheels on any ebike.
We didn’t get to ride the other two models in the AMP range but looking at the specification of the Trailfox 01 AMP TWO (pictured below), we think it will be most popular choice and it’s the bike we’ll be looking to do a proper test on.
The price on the AMP Two? Judging from the Euro pricings we’ve seen it should be a little bit more than half the price of the AMP LTD, so somewhere in the £5k region, which makes it much more in the ballpark of other ebikes of this ilk.