BMC are a Swiss company that have made a name for themselves on the road scene, mainly by being the bike providers for the Phonak pro team. Like their road frames, their mountain bikes are loaded with quirky details, all of which seem to make good design sense too. BMC's new distributor Extra UK began selling frames rather than complete bikes in 2007.
The Trailfox 01 sits high in BMC's lightweight full suspension range and offers 120mm of rear wheel travel from a DT Swiss air shock. Like every BMC full susser, the 01 uses a Fourstroke VPS (Virtual Pivot System) suspension design, not to be confused with Santa Cruz/Intense's VPP (Virtual Pivot Point) system. Essentially, the rear triangle floats behind the mainframe on short, stout linkages that get the very best from both shock and overall design. The aluminium chainstays, carbon seatstays and variously shaped tubed, cast and meticulously machined sections are all created to extract maximum advantage - high strength and torsional rigidity - from minimum weight. This frame also comes in an all-alloy version, which will cost £1,070.
Some riders were initially critical of the frame's über techy appearance, but the fast, superbly controlled ride and the obvious effects of the low weight and pedal efficiency on the climbs instantly put any doubts to rest. In a market full of relatively relaxed 120mm travel allmountain bikes, the Trailfox is something of a surprise, albeit eventually a fairly pleasant one.
The steep head angle (71- degree static is steep for a 120mm travel bike) makes the steering feel nervous when you first set off. The 73-degree seat angle sits you forward enough to initially feel that the back should be set up with more sag than the fork to tilt the bike back a little, and the lively race-bike feel makes you hold back when the terrain gets rough. But then you find yourself getting used to the steep set-up and you start to push harder. Fork set-up is crucial on a bike like this - if the fork dives too readily, you're in trouble.
BMC rigs will be sold in the UK as frames only so we're not going to dwell on our test bike's parts. Suffice to say it was built to Shimano XT level and it was fitted with a Pace RC41 XCAM fork offering 130mm of travel. Fitting a 120mm travel fork that reduces to 100mm (4in) to help you out on the climbs is definitely recommended, though.
Overall, the ride feel of the Trailfox is that of a shorter travel cross-country race bike, but the fact that it's so forgiving over rocks and roots makes you throw caution to the wind as you become used to the twitchy handling. It's a great bike for long, fast, rough trails, although it still made us feel nervous on steep, bumpy drops at the end of our test. Even so, we were loving it by the end of our first big ride.