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BMC Trailfox Amp

Eagerly awaited 150mm emtb from Switzerland

The most stunning bike at Eurobike last year was finally discharged into the public eye in production form last week at the Swiss launch but its likely the cheaper version will be the bike to buy.

Shape and Purpose

In the dramatic Alpine environment we rode the Mexico blue top end version of the 150mm travel AMP which will retail at around €10,000 although there are two other models which will likely be the bigger sellers with more realistic componentry. The key geometry features of the T’Fox Amp are a 66 degree head angle (about average for the travel) with long front centre and higher bottom bracket to eliminate pedal strike on climbs. The reach numbers are 445mm for medium and 469mm for large which stack up pretty well with non – emtb sizing. Three size options.

BMC have developed a “Twin hollow core” downtube to accommodate the battery up front which is a solution visually and is said to offer good torsional support which is also a feature of the one-piece rear swingarm. Bearings and links are all upsized for the Amp.

Motor

Shimano provide the motor and internal battery mounting option on this bike compared to the external system on the Merida we recently tested and rated highly. The main difference of the two is that the internal battery is a push fit whereas the external slides in from the side into a snug groove. We have been totally happy with the silent ride the side-in method has delivered from Shimano and the power delivery and functionality of the controls so it was an interesting comparison.

The Alps provided perfect terrain to test three mode Shimano system. In reality eco and trail mode are the chosen modes for much of the ride/climbs with boost only really necessary to pull you up technical banks and those inaccessible to non emtb which in turn requires good skills. Otherwise it’s a mode for the less fit or plain lazy.

Components

Carbon wheels and electronic Di2 shifting we feel to be more vanity products than of any real practical use on a bike of this type so sadly although they proved to be excellent products we’ll not be endorsing these on emtb. Shimano Saint however is a must have and they delivered on every part of the journey. BMC provide a good bar/stem combination along with Race Face seatpost that didn’t miss a beat.

Tyres raised some debate. We’re of the opinion that its pointless having power without any grip and as much as we were happy with the front, the narrow and thin rear seemed an odd choice. BMC say its about philosophy, but we’d argue its more about practicality and riding skill and that the Minion DHR is a better option both front and rear in that it allows for charging up or down.

The leg'....Ludo May

Feeling

The goal of BMC engineers has been to deliver the ride feeling of the Trailfox, a bike we rate  very highly although one which probably needs a freshen up after its launch four years ago. Emulating the ride dynamic of a bike heading on half the weight is unrealistic and what we have here is a reasonably typical emtb ride characteristic although one not quite as planted as we’d hoped.

Its only when you really begin bossing this bike around that you get the best out of it. It requires an aggressive ride to make the shifts in direction happen, something that was made clear when we reached the many corners of the bike park in Verbier. It could well be that a slightly lower bottom bracket and longer fork might have been a better choice for this bike. I guess it depends on the riding you choose to do on it. In Verbier we had a ball and would happily have sessioned the hill all day or indeed all week long on the Trailfox Amp.

Limitations

As mentioned carbon wheels on a heavy bike that’s going to get a beating are not really practical, something BMC proved in the bent rim imagery from when they were developing this bike. Shimano Di2 is simply too precise and fussy. More than anything though we’d like a more silent ride from the bike and there seemed to be noise emanating from the battery housing area, although this might well have been partly the cables rattling in that area too.

Verdict

BMC were surprised that more company’s did not show up with similar Shimano based concept designs at Eurobike and they’ve scored again by delivering on their promise. From that early prototype they have produced the goods with three models in the range with something for everyone.

The underwhelming nature of the terrain we rode meant we were unable to fully explore the Trailfox Amp. It was only when we got into the steeper bike park terrain with corners that we began to get into the rhythm of this bike, but that was after 8hrs of largely fireroad and tarmac. This time should really have been spent hitting super tech climbs and descents, roaming the foothills and skirting above the treeline with five figure back drop mountains – big adventures or simply burning through the battery on a two hour intense ride experience. We firmly believe a bike of this nature is about what it says on the can – “An AMPlified riding experience” – sadly the terrain we rode on this occasion didn’t translate to that philosophy.

More than this although we have highs and a couple of lows regarding this bike it would be hasty to deliver a verdict until it has been ridden back to back with some other 150mmm offerings.

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