BMC Speedfox SF29 X0 - First ride review£3,799.99

Technical trail machine

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The SF29 X0 sits at the top of BMC’s two 29er and two 26er Speedfox range. It’s an impressively surefooted, head down, wheels on the ground cross-country/trail machine.

Ride & handling: Confident-handling technical trail or long-distance cruising machine

A wide handlebar and short stem were the last things we expected to find on a Swiss designed ‘marathon race’ bike, but combined with a 70-degree head angle, they give the front end a rude amount of confidence and control. 

If it’s slippery you can subtly stir the tyres about until you find some bite. If it’s loose, rocky, rooty or all three you can just lock the bars into any cornering or line choice and force the issue with serious strength.

The low hand position keeps plenty of weight forward to keep the tyre interested rather than sliding outwards on turns as many 29ers can do. The frame stiffness and big tyres underline the handling with a surefooted feel even for a wagon-wheeler.

The fork and long-stroke, low-leverage rear damper are so sorted we never thought about them once we’d set up pressure and rebound. We just ploughed into and through stuff that would kick some 100mm (3.9in) 29ers and most 120mm (4.7in) 26ers all over the place without breaking our rhythm or relaxed confidence. 

The assured handling and the ability of this bike to diesel through technical sections is great for momentum and offsets the slightly high weight. Changes of pace are fairly-labour intensive and sluggish though, considering the high price. The low, locked-onto-the-ground character doesn’t encourage off-ground agility either, unless you can get some serious speed behind it. 

Frame & equipment: Stiff chassis and benchmark bits

With a short head tube and hydroformed tube shapes including a curved down tube and split ended top tube, the Speedfox front end is a powerful and precise structure. BMC's APS (Advance Pivot System) twin, crisply machined linkage system levers off the curved seat tube and conventional external bottom bracket section. 

Relatively short 445mm chainstays and an asymmetric stiffening strut on the offside keep things tight out back for a big-wheeler too. A neat wraparound seat quick-release, internal chainstay cabling and single bottle cage mount complete the chassis.

Fox’s F29 fork and Float rear shock are benchmark performers and we were impressed by the tubeless-ready Easton EA70 wheels too. While the chainset, shifter and rear mech are all SRAM X0, the front mech and Elixir brakes are downspecced to X7 standard despite the name.

Given the price that’s a bit disappointing but you can get the same frame with a Shimano SLX triple chainset and RockShox Recon fork for £2,199. While the ‘suspension’ effect of the carbon insert in the seatpost is unnoticeable on a fat-tyred full susser, we loved the wide flat bar and short stem spec.

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 45
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
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