BMC Speedfox 29
Europe has lagged behind the USA and Australia in their appetite for 29 inch wheels, and until product season 2012 it has been clear that mainly non-European brands have made a commitment to 29 inch wheels.
This situation is rapidly changing. Big time European brands such as Cube and Focus now have deep lines of 29ers, and smaller brands such as BMC have joined the fray too. And while big wheels have gone a long way towards reviving interest in hardtails, evolving suspension design and an improved understanding of 29er geometry has also lead to more big-wheel duallies on the market.
BMC may be small in terms of their product range and volume, but this Swiss brand has some enviable cred in Australia. It seems like just last week that Cadel rolled his yellow BMC roadie down the streets of Paris (and Melbourne), and Jason English clocked up a dizzying number of marathon and 24 hour race victories on BMC bikes before a change of sponsor. Despite this, we still don’t see a too many BMC mountain bikes out on the trail, so I was very curious as to how their first attempt at a 29er dually would ride. Has BMC been wise to wait on the sidelines until now, letting other brands make mistakes with a product line that is still relatively new in the market?
A quick overview of the Speedfox 29 (SF29) shows some very contemporary thinking in design and fabrication. Keeping the back end short is no easy design task with a 29 inch dually, yet the 445mm chainstays on the SF29 are as compact as those found on many hardtails. At least in theory, this should add a degree of nimbleness; a trait sometimes found lacking with the big wheel brigade.
Up front the head angle is stable but not sleepy at 70 degrees, a change from many early generation 29ers where super steep 71-73 degree head angles were used to speed up the steering and compensate for the big wheels (and often long chainstays too). BMC have also thrown in a tapered head tube and post mount rear brake tabs, just to make sure everything is modern. The only ‘new standards’ not present are thru-axles to mount the wheels and some kind of press-fit bottom bracket.
BMC (Bicycle Manufacturing Company) have been producing and refining their APS (Advanced Pivot System) for years, and it’s no surprise that it’s used here on the SF29. It’s the only suspension system that BMC uses, which shows that they are 100% committed to both this system, as well as to producing cunning acronyms. The design itself is a short link four-bar system that employs chain torque to limit unwanted pedalling bob and suspension squat when climbing or under acceleration.
The Speedfox platform is billed as BMC’s ‘marathon/race’ line, offering enough travel for all-day comfort, without carrying too much weight. With this use in mind, the SF29 offers 100mm of travel at both ends—around 20mm less than the 26 inch version but a healthy amount for a 29 inch marathon bike.