BMC Speedfox SF02 Bike

By Justin Walker 25 August 2014
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Shred some trails on this racy mountain bike

Three years have passed since Australian Geographic Adventure acquired the BMC Speedfox SF02 as our long-term test bike. Yep, three years. We had no intention of keeping the bike as long as this but each time we’ve contacted Echelon Sports (BMC’s Australian distributor) they told us to “keep it a little bit longer”. So we have…

During its three-year tenure, the Speedfox has been ridden and raced infrequently, owing mainly to this writer’s sporadic fitness levels and health. The SF02’s main duties have been as a race steed for the MONT 24 MTB race near Canberra.

This stage-race format (a team of six individual riders alternate riding laps of a course over, under and through densely forested terrain for 24 hours) is exactly what the Speedfox was originally designed for: long-ish days in the saddle, with the riding terrain a mix of climbing and descending.

As standard, the bike features 120mm of suspension travel, with the frame featuring BMC’s APS (Advanced Pivot System) suspension system, which is designed to ensure maximum pedal effort is transferred to forward motion, rather than being ‘lost’ when the suspension compresses. APS also promotes traction when climbing over rugged terrain (think: tree roots, rocks etc.).

The drivetrain is all Shimano (a mix of SLX and XT), and the whole shebang rolls on DT Swiss X1900 rims, shod with Schwalbe Rocket Ron 26×2.25 tyres.

For most of the past three years, the SF02 has stayed in standard spec – and performed impressively, whether on a quick blast around Manly Dam MTB track, or a hot lap during the MONT 24. However, just before a recent MTB road trip to Tathra, on the NSW Sapphire Coast, to sample some of this town’s brilliant trails, I decided to update the bike.

The Shimano 3×10 SLX crankset was swapped out for 2×10 Shimano XT; the range of gear ratios is reduced slightly with only two front rings, but the increased reliability and simpler shifting means I have rarely missed having that third ring up front. Fitting this crankset also dropped some weight from the bike – something I was also aiming to achieve – as long as it did not sacrifice performance or durability.

The SF02’s standard DT Swiss rims were reliable and tough, but quite heavy. I was keen to drop weight from this area too – plus also look at running tubeless, to save even more rolling weight. To this end, I fitted a set of Easton EA70 XCT MTB wheels, which dropped nearly 500g off the bike – and they are tubeless-ready; the rim tape is pre-fitted, so if I opt to go tubeless in the near future, I just need tubeless-ready tyres and some sealant.

The Tathra shakedown test for these two modifications was an eye-opener. Riding with 2×10 gearing took all of five minutes to get used to, and the spread of ratios was enough to see me to the top of the steepest climb easily. The lighter Easton wheels easily handled the rough, rocky trails as well as the many drop-offs.

BMC no longer makes the Speedfox. Instead, the Swiss company has turned its focus to the 29-inch wheel segment, and offers the impressive race-focused FourStroke and the more trail/enduro-aligned TrailFox, a 150mm-travel beast.

For this tester though, the Speedfox SF02 – even though it is now four-years old – proves that you don’t always need a new bike (although you – like me – may well lust after one). These two upgrades have enhanced the performance of a mountain bike that has already proved itself very capable in many conditions, ranging from smooth singletrack to gnarly, drop-filled flow trails.

Next up for the SF02 is the fitting of tubeless tyres, along with a carbon-fibre seatpost and handlebars, just to see how light I can go without sacrificing the bike’s exceptional durability.