For 2019, BMC is building on their e-mountain bike platform by offering two new variations of existing models. One’s a little more aggressive, and one’s a little more affordable. Let’s start with the former…
Trailfox AMP SX takes the TF Amp’s carbon front/alloy rear frame and bumps up the front travel to a whopping 170mm using a Fox Float 36 Factory fork with FIT4 damping cartridge.
Out back is a more aggressive Fox Float DPX2 Factory Evol rear shock to make it more capable.
They also switched up the tire size, running a smaller 27.5×2.5 (down from the standard TF AMP’s 2.8 “plus” tires) to give it sharper handling and less of a squishy feeling. But, they used a downhill casing to help support the weight of the bike and reduce the likelihood of damage on gnarly trails.
The frame sticks with the carbon fiber front and triple-butted alloy rear with integrated Shimano STEPS MTB E-8000 group with 250W / 70Nm output. The rest of the moving and stopping bits are Shimano XT, Magura MT7 brakes, and DT Swiss H1900 wheels, which is the only build spec is being offered at launch. Retail is €7,999.
2019 Speedfox AMP Alloy
The new Speedfox AMP Alloy takes the 130mm travel, 29er carbon frame of the original and converts it to a more affordable alloy model. The trick was getting the same stiffness and integration they could with carbon, which is much easier to shape however they want.
To do that, they had to make a one-piece hydroformed tube, which was a manufacturing challenge because it has such a larger cross section than typical bicycle tube sections. The difference across the entire frame is about 1kg, which isn’t so bad on an eMTB. And, honestly, it looks pretty much the same as the carbon bikes, even getting the small “handle” cutout at the front.
The drive unit is the Shimano STEPS E-7000, which is Shimano’s latest e-bike motor unit that maxes out with a bit less total torque than the 8000-series system, but still has smooth power delivery.
Two versions will be available, the Four (which is higher end, shown here) and Five, ranging from €4,299 to €4,999. The Four gets a Rockshox Revelation RC fork with RS Monarch rear shock, Shimano XT/SLX group with SLX brakes.
The Five gets a Recon fork with X-Fusion rear shock, SRAM NX group and Deore brakes.
But how does it ride?
BMC’s e-bikes are based directly off their analog, non-assisted versions, so their suspension platform is pretty well dialed from years of use in the XC race and trail riding circuits. And it shows.
The rear end has a decently tight 450mm chainstay length, which isn’t bad for fitting a 29×2.35″ tire behind a motor. As such, handling the bike through technical terrain is easy, it never feels like the back end is stuck around a corner. And those 2.35″ tires did a great job of hooking up on what became a dry, scrabbly hardpack surface.
The trails at Massa Marittima, Italy (in the Tuscany region) challenged every bit of the bike’s 130mm of travel, but it held up. If I had one complaint it’s that the Rockshox Revelation felt a bit overdamped. I had the compression set wide open the whole ride, but it was quite firm and rattled my hands a bit more than some other bikes I rode. With any e-MTB, getting the balance between enough support to handle the extra weight and keeping it supple is a trick, but I’m thinking a higher end fork with more adjustment options would allow for a plusher feel. Or messing with the volume spacers. Or both. But this was just one 2-hour test ride, so my options were limited.
As expected, the STEPS E-7000 system made short work of the climbs. I didn’t notice a need for more power than what Shimano’s base-model eMTB drive unit could provide, and I’m a bigger rider…probably just over 200lbs once fully kitted and wearing a loaded hydration pack.
My takeaway? The BMC Speedfox AMP alloy offers a lower cost entry into the world of performance e-mountain bikes with solid handling that kinda sits in the middle…not too aggressive, not too basic. In other words, it’s a fun bike for riders that just wanna get out and ride hard on most trails.
What else is new?
For all of the eMTB’s, they’ve switched to newly-offered Shimano STEPS 165mm cranks on all models and sizes to reduce pedal strikes. They found that it was more of an issue on the e-bikes because people were pedaling more aggressively on the climbs and, despite having a decently high bottom bracket, were more prone to clipping pedals on rocks.
The other change will be that all bikes will use the more aesthetically pleasing and streamlined E-7000 mode switch (shown on bottom in photo above), regardless of whether the bike is spec’d with the E-8000 or E-7000 drive unit.