a Cross Country Rider
from Cupertino CA USA
Date Reviewed: September 2, 2008
Strengths: I still love this bike. This is an update on my other review, the only other one here so far, on the Four Stroke Trail. To clarify, this bike is the same chassis as the Four Stroke 03, except that it is equipped with the long travel link and rocker. This adds some travel, purportedly .7 inches more. I've been riding it a lot, worn out the original M960 XTR drivetrain and a couple of cassettes,and blew the shock seals, so there is a lot of experience on it now. The frame has survived and actually still looks really good when it is clean. The bike climbs very well. My Fox RP3 was rebuilt by a good local shop and needed a new air can (the RP3 body was damaged probably by severe bottom out abuse when blown. They used a FOX AVA body, and it works better. The platform is noticeably reduced, and it brought the suspension more to life, more active. An improvement. Since the APP is so efficient, I haven't missed the stiffer platform. The latest improvement to the bike has come from adding a Crank Bros Joplin adjustable height seatpost. This frame does not let you lower the seatpost much because the rocker-arm pivot runs through the seat-tube, interupting and ending lowering the seatpost. Anyway, I tended not do this on other bikes, because it required stopping, I can ride behind the saddle, and also because more trails do not call for this technique. However, the BMC can now quickly adapt to more extreme descending conditions with the Joplin. The Gravity Dropper is also worthy. This last topic should perhaps be in the weakness category. Decently light, at least in the ballpark for this type of bike. Pulls manuals well. Wheelies good and accomodates sudden trail step-ups and downs. High-ish bottom bracket clears more rocks, logs and roots. One water bottle mount where you want it to be. Low CG.
Weaknesses: The seat-tube is interupted by the rocker-arm pivot and prevents fully lowering the seatpost. The busy design collects a lot of dirt and is difficult to clean around the bottom bracket. The mounting of the front derailleur on my frame calls for a top-swing/top-pull. This wouldn't be so bad, but I haven't been able to find anything better than the XTR M960 that I put on originally. This is not optimal because this dual-pull derailleur puts the cable clamp to the outside (chainring side)and puts a sharp bend into the routing from the cable-stop. This causes friction and lousy shifting. I have been searching for an older front derailleur that will work but haven't found one. My workable solution is the employment of Gore teflon lined cable. I noticed that the BMC bikes pictured on the internet visibly exhibit this shortcoming. I particularly remember seeing this on some Interbike shots. If only the cable stop were slightly angled and higher, this would have greatly reduced the problem. It looks like it was designed for an older derailleur that doesn't exist anymore. I am still searching for a better derailleur for the BMC. The other main weakness (and also a strength) of my BMC is that it has a short wheelbase and a steepish feeling headangle. For most situations this is fine. This is not an AM bike trait. I would have to say, that for most trail riding this is good, but for a place like MOAB a slacker HA would be more confidence inspiring. Sizing this frame is a difficult choice. The design is not generous for stand-over height and I think that if you chose for stand-over clearance, you would get a frame too big. Even though it feels short, and I ride high, this bike has not endoed me.
This is the most used mountain bike in my garage, and will probably always be, even when I get a longer travel bike. It steers quickly, feels well balanced, and does it all with aplomb. The short wheelbase is great in tight woods or brush and rockgardens. This bike is well suited to all day epic rides that include a wide variety of terrain, including some black diamonds. I don't race anymore, so I can only say that personally I would look for something with less travel and much lighter to race on. It's not that the BMC is innefficient. It is very efficient. It's just that, bottom line, the bike is so much fun to ride, that I ride more to discover challenging lines in the trail, rather than simply the fastest one. It is a play bike. This bike is a great climber and technical climber. It finds the traction if you have the legs for it.
I'm giving it 4 Chilis overall. I keep one back only because it is is somewhere between an XC bike and an AM bike, where the perfect bike is difficult to define. It is not quite 5" of rear travel. It feels active underneath, and follows and leads other 5" travel bikes easily, such as the Titus Motolites, and Blur LTs, Hecklers, Intense 5.5's and even 6.6, that are popular among people I ride with. Maybe this is as good as it gets. I like that it is not carbon or scandium. It was a great deal.
Similar Products Used: I came to this bike from an Intense/Haro werx Tracer, which shows some cracks at lower seat mast welds near the upper shoch mount. Before that I rode the original Specailized Enduro. These were the only full-sus bikes I rode for long periods of time. However, this summer we went to Switzerland and rode with Big Mountain on the Cloudraker tour, which was awesome, and rode Trek Remedy 66 bikes. Now I want to get a six-seven inch travel bike eventually. The BMC offerings, Superstroke, Supertrail, look good, but I will wait and see. Definitely, Switzerland is the greatest lab for product development. We met a guy who knows about the guy who heads BMC, and he said the man is a sort of genius. No kidding. Okay, the guy rode an Enduro, but he was from Zurich. I though it was ironic because I ride by the Specialized HQ all the time here in CA, and he rides by BMC.
Bike Setup: Things I like now are tires at least 2.35 in size running prssure in the low 30's. Running 23% sag in the rear shock. The front shock is the 140mm travel 06' Fox Talas RL, which I am constantly adjusting for the terrain. This makes the bike very versatile. With the travel reduced all the way I can climb steepest fireroads easily with comfort. Extended all the way out slackens the bike and it feels great on fast rocky stuff with moderate drops. It jumps okay, just, not great. I would like to put a 7" rotor on it to balance the braking and make it descend long trails better (still have 6"). A handlebar controlled Manitou IT system would be a great theoretical improvement. Unfortunately most of my Manitou experiences are not good ones, so I will stick to Fox. I was having problems with slight top shock mount bolt play. I found a way to fix this, by using plumbers teflon tape and stretching it over the bolt ahead of insertion. This treatment lasts for a couple of months, and is a quick and easy way to micro-shim this.
a Cross Country Rider
from Bay Area
Date Reviewed: May 5, 2008
Strengths: Efficient suspension design. Nimble short wheelbase. Cross-country oriented steep head-angle. Light and strong for what it does. Climbs great. Descends great. Two bolt seatpost clamp (strong, but a negative if you want to drop the post during the ride, however I don't.)
Weaknesses: The worst thing is that the top shock bushing wears out too fast, and I don't know why. This was bought as frame only, without shock and maybe the set-up I have is wrong. I put a Fox RP3 on it, and the suspension action is excellent, with almost 5" of travel, but the looseness of that bushing comes back quickly after replacement. Front derailleur seat-tube cable stop not in optimal location. Pivot bolts needed to be loc-tited (I think this should be done at the factory), and re-torqued.
This bike really shined on it's first major outing on a vacation in Oregon, doing the Umpqua River trail amongst other trails. At first I set the shifters up as high-normal, but then realized that the shifters would work better with rapid-rise stuff, so I switched over, and do not regret that, except that I need to change the cables much more frquently as rapid rise turns into rapid-disappointment if the cables are dirty. My bike is a Swiss company design made in Taiwan ROC, with the extended travel links, and maybe rare. I have yet to see another one. It has not broken down yet. Without the top shock mount bushing problem I have I would have to say it was perfect for my tastes. I am 5'8.5" tall and the 15" frame fits perfect. While I need to have a 400mm post to make this work, the standover height is just enough for me, and no more, which would seem weird given the steeply sloping top-tube, except that the high bottom-bracket (great for rock-gardens), and the Talas, push things up so much. This is definitely an XC oriented bike, and the big tires and sturdy wheels I choose are there for traction and durability on long epic rides, not for shredding stunts and drops. The frame is really strange looking and unconventional due to BMC genius ideas. Strange to note, though, that the new 08'BMC models abandon many of the design elements we see in the Four Stroke series, which may be an indication that they learned something from a mistake made on the frame I ride. Seems suspicious to me anyway. Don't buy it for stunts and dh, get the Super Stroke for that. This is for an epic all day rider on rugged trails.
Despite qualifying remarks above, this bike is a huge improvement over what I have ridden regularly in the past. It delivers amazingly efficient bob-free propulsion, nimble traits handy in tight situations, straight and stable at high speeds, and does everything I ask it to, and saves me when I ask for something stupid.
This bike has cleared me up some climbs that eluded me for years. It is a superior climber. I like riding up steep stuff.
5 chilis for value since it was more than half cheaper than the warranty replacement of my cracked old Intense Tracer. Four overall chilis, because of the FOX RP3 bushing wear.
Bike Setup: It is 2006 parts mix, XTR cranks, XT integrated brifters-hydraulics, XTR derailleurs, Ritchey comp post,pro bar, and older dh stem (stem looks right as is thick as down-tube). The older dial-adjust FOX Talas, which suits this bike really well, allowing really precise adjustment for terrain and riding style. When locked out, with pro-pedal on firm, the ride hammers like a ridgid fork hardtail. Velo Pronto perforated leather covered saddle provides good grip on climbs, and whose long base enhances fore and aft weight postioning.ODI lockon Ruffian grips, 36 spoke Sun Rhynolite-XT wheels, XT centerlock rotors, organic resin pads, IRC 2.35 Trail Bear rear, and IRC 2.35 V-Claw front. Xpedo cro/mag SPD pedals. Frame is the 15 inch small size.
Has anyone made the switch from 4" to 5" travel? Would you do it all over again if you could go back in time?
Also, where did you purchase the kit (I can't find any information on the internet regarding the conversion kit, price, where to buy, etc.)...
I appreciate any replies as I am serious ... Read More »
Has anyone had any experience with the Trail version of the BMC Fourstroke? It comes with 5" of travel instead of the regular Fourstroke 03's 4" of travel.
[url]http://www.bmc-racing.com/bikes.cfm?lang=eng&catID=1&modID=5[/url]Read More »