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.
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?