2015 BMC Trailfox TF02: First Impressions

Words Omar Bhimji
Photos Kaz Yamamura
Date Dec 10, 2014

Can you ever have too much of a good thing? As the 29” wheeled platform has been adapted for burlier trails, it’s a question that bicycle designers have had to wrestle with. In theory, combining the roll-over-shit ability of bigger wheels with the comfort and control of longer travel should yield the holy grail of trail-taming trail bikes. But in practice, the mixture can produce an awkward solution, with the two elements vying for frame real estate and pushing handling characteristics into the dreaded ‘transit’ zone.

A few companies have risen to the challenge, however, and earlier this Fall BMC sent us the hat they’ve thrown into the ring: the BMC Trailfox TF02 29er. At first glance the Trailfox doesn’t fail to impress, looking like it was dreamed up by someone hell bent on ticking every one of the boxes for aggressive trail bike design. We’ve tried to capture these characteristics in the gallery below, and this Winter I’ll be looking to give the Trailfox some grief, in order to determine whether the bike rides like the sum of its impressive parts.

BMC offers six variations of the Trailfox 29er, with different build kits and degrees of carbonization. Bless them for sending us the black one.

In typically practical Swiss fashion, BMC is an abbreviation of Bicycle Manufacturing Company. They bill the Trailfox as the Swiss Army Knife of mountain bikes, meant to handle anything a rider might encounter while schralping through the Alps.

The turny bits are one area where the Swiss company has tried to bring some Euro flavour to the Trailfox, but your daddy’s Porcupines these are not: Onza’s Ibex tires have gotten some burn on the Enduro World Series circuit, and I’ll be curious to see how they fare in our local, currently-less-than-grippy conditions.

Love it or hate it, the internal routing on the Trailfox keeps the snake’s nest of cables relegated to the front of the bike. I’m waiting until the holiday booze starts flowing before getting intimate with the guts of the system.

BMC offers the Trailfox in three grades: sitting in the middle of the lineup, the TF02 boasts a carbon main triangle and an aluminum back end, joined by a pair of small links that drive the Trailfox’s APS suspension system. Rear damper duties are handled by Cane Creek’s DBAir CS, while out front Rockshox’s Pike RCT3 continues the black-and-baller theme.

BMC took a mix-and-match approach to the TF02’s 11-speed drive train, but all of the pieces fit: Carbon XO cranks drive a 30-tooth XO1 chainring protected by a custom carbon bash guard, while a dangling BMC-branded chain guide provides backup.

Out back, an XO1 derailleur guides the chain around a 10-42 tooth X1 cassette. Cable routing is tidy, and a plastic guard does teamster duty on the drive-side chainstay.

OBhi

No, that’s not a typo: the Trailfoxes boast seriously long front ends across the size range, with a 460mm reach on the large bike in for review. BMC managed to the keep the chainstays to a reasonable 435mm in length, but the wheelbase on our test bike is 1200mm.

Reigning in the reach a bit, the TF02 comes spec’d with a shore-friendly 50mm long Easton Haven stem. The dirt-jumper style cable routing comes care of a ridiculously long line on the stock Rockshox Stealth Reverb dropper seatpost that I haven’t gotten around to trimming yet.

Control is handled by Sram’s new Guide R brakes, mated to a 200mm rotor out front and a 180 out back. This marks my first encounter with Sram’s highly touted new stoppers: I am cautiously optimistic.

The TF02’s E1700 Spline 2 wheels may be DT Swiss’s middle market offering, but the machining on the hubs is top notch.

Ticking all of the boxes and certainly looking the part. I’ll try to show our Swiss visitor a good time on the Shore this winter and report back in the New Year to let you know how she fared.

The Trailfox comes in three levels, with the TF01 leading the charge. Our TF02 tester falls in the middle of the range at $6499 US. The top of the range TF01 XTR will set you back $8,999 USD and sports carbon front and rear triangles, while the much more economic TF03 SLX is $3,499 USD with a full aluminum frame. For more details and info, head over to BMC’s website.


The 29er for aggressive trail riding is gaining traction despite the rise of 650b. Are you intrigued?

Trending on NSMB

Comments

j-just-j
0
J Just J  - Feb. 20, 2015, 1:50 p.m.

I cannot begin to take your review seriously when you post pictures of such a horrendous build job. Your lack of attention to this detail negates your review.

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mitch-lomacz
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Mitch Lomacz  - Dec. 12, 2014, 8:13 p.m.

How is this not a DW link?? Is BMC using a DW or is Dave gonna have to sue somebody?

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drewm
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DrewM  - Dec. 13, 2014, 7:02 a.m.

Either their is something about their dual link design (curve?) that doesn't infringe on his patent (a la Niner, Cove, Giant -- I guess Giant's maybe debatable), Or BMC isn't sold in the states so patent law as it affects four bar suspension designs that have been around for over a hundred years isn't quite as "generous," Or they are owned by a Bank with Much Cash and it's zero francs given?

I'd be curious to know too…

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 13, 2014, 1:12 p.m.

definitely looks like a dw link to me. but then so does banshee's ks link. there may be differences that are substantial enough to make the designs distinct, but i don't what what they are.

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carl-dumas
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Carl Dumas  - Dec. 12, 2014, 1:26 p.m.

Do you think it would be possible to convert this bike to 27.5?

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 13, 2014, 1:14 p.m.

technically i guess you could put 27.5″ wheels on any 29er - but why would you? the chainstays would be longer than necessary; the bb height would drop significantly; and the hta is going to feel steeper than it does with bigger wheels.

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rivs
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Rivs  - Dec. 11, 2014, 6:51 p.m.

Boom , I am interested in hearing more about the bike when you can . On first looks alone i would love to build up this frame set with a "shore xc " build and maybe second set of lightweight wheels for big rides away from here

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 11, 2014, 9:55 p.m.

there were some hiccups in securing her visa for canada, so we've only had a few quick dates so far. but i hope to get to know her well in the next month or so, and have a full review to share early in the new year

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kperras
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Kenneth Perras  - Dec. 11, 2014, 1:08 p.m.

Regarding the reverb hose, it will never get trimmed at the Factory, and likely will not get trimmed until the customer buys the bike since the trimming is dependent on the customer's preferences. Why risk ruining a potential sale, or losing margin on a replacement hose because it was trimmed too short?

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 11, 2014, 6:17 p.m.

Agreed; I didn't write that

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pete@nsmb.com
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Pete Roggeman  - Dec. 11, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

I made that change. Rather than factory I should have written 'by BMC'. Your comment makes sense, Ken, however we've never seen a test bike come with nearly that much excess hose - stealth or no stealth. Anyway, small detail and mostly irrelevant except we should have taken care of it before the cockpit photo was taken.

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rivs
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Rivs  - Dec. 10, 2014, 10:12 p.m.

That is one seriously good looking bike ! I always had a thing for Swiss girls….. And a real water bottle mount FTW

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 10, 2014, 11:52 p.m.

interesting that you don't care much for the spec - i find it pretty hard to fault for the most part; curious what about it's not floating your boat?

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matt-savage
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Matt Savage  - Dec. 11, 2014, 6:30 a.m.

All the Sram stuff…

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rivs
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Rivs  - Dec. 11, 2014, 8:06 a.m.

To be fair with my comments on displacing water . I made the statement with my "shore" blinders on . The spec of this beauty would most likely be fantastic for 2/3 s of the rest of the world .
But the tires , rims and stem, handle bar and brakes just dont hit home in what i would be looking for . Solid , good looking on the shop floor . But depending on the price point may be costly to have the goods i am looking for .
I just assumed that most new trail bikes would come speced with a 35mm carbon control center. a slightly wider rim set and . I am just flat out am biased against sram brakes due to past experiences . I really hope to have some experiences going forward that will change my mind.
I still love her………. just no crackers in bed please

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drewm
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DrewM  - Dec. 11, 2014, 8:37 a.m.

What advantage do your perceive from a "35mm control center" that would make the bike more "shore worthy"?

Spec looks really good -- I'm not a SRAM brake guy either due to history, but the Guide brake has been getting awesome reviews (power, feel, ease of bleeding), so just waiting for long term reliability now.

There is always lag as popular opinion changes and most bikes I see on shop floors don't have wide rims yet. OE Tires are OE Tires -- how many bikes come with want you want on the shop floor (vs. a cheap crappy version of a good tire)?

The only thing I can't get my head around is why the bike needs the extra little chain guide for a 1x set-up?

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andrewbikeguide
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AndrewR  - Dec. 11, 2014, 9:41 a.m.

Bars are 750mm on this spec according to BMC's website.

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rivs
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Rivs  - Dec. 11, 2014, 11:17 a.m.

Like I said , "shore" blinders on . Basically on my old Satori's ( yes I had two) I shreded my Ardents , and my Schwalbe options . I built a wider rim set (flow ex) My call for the 35mm stem bar combo is for the stiffer , potentially lighter options . Once you have the wider bar on there . There is a lot of torsion pushing that larger wheel around on the trail. And I am buying into the 35mm on my Knolly now. (I have been running a 70mm NSB overloard stem with a RF sixc carbon bar. The new 35mm sixc and havoc stem in 65mm felt stiffer to me.)
Oe tires.. agreed most are changed out right away . Nit picking.
A low rise bar would help to shorten the front end . but i havent gone back to flat bars since 1998 …
The look and style would have me asking her out on a date or two , despite her lazy eye….

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 11, 2014, 9:52 p.m.

tires are personal - these might not be what you'd run but i'm betting they're in the same class. i goofed on the wheels - as someone on facebook pointed out they're e1700 spline 2's, with rims almost identical (25mm internal width) to the flow ex. i don't think stock 35mm cockpits are common yet. the bars are an odd spec to me, and i've already swapped them out for something with a bit more sweep and width. the brakes… we'll see. lots of people are shy on sram stoppers and for good reason, but the guides have been getting good press and these budget versions have impressed me so far

at the end of the day you have to appreciate that this is a stock bike, not a custom build, and you're never going to please everyone. the bar is the only head scratcher to me - every other piece is well chosen and suited for its intended purpose

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drewm
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DrewM  - Dec. 11, 2014, 10:05 p.m.

Did you stick with a flat bar or go to a low rise bar?

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boomforeal
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boomforeal  - Dec. 12, 2014, 2:59 p.m.

low rise. there's a cockpit/stack height issue with the bike i'll get into in the full review

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juan-messa
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Juan Messa  - Feb. 8, 2015, 9:58 a.m.

I have a TF03 , swapped out the stock bars for renthal carbons , 10mm rise and cut to 760mm. Running a CCDB in line out back. This bike absolutely flies. The rougher the terrain the better. Consistently posted quicker times than 200mm dh bikes on a dh course . Tracks dead straight , and never fazed. Built for speed . The one and only negative is the chain device wears out real quick, if I were being picky 5/5

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