True, old-fashioned XC race bikes were terrifying on the descents, especially with a big side order of roots and rocks, but that's not the case anymore with bikes like the Fourstroke. It’s the most fun I’ve had on a bike with this little travel in probably ever! I can’t recall a bike that combines the stunning speed to let you boss the climbs so easily, yet be so incredibly capable on the descents no matter how gnarly the roots and rocks or the gradient might get.
The Fourstroke is a long way from the nervous and skittish descending abilities of classic XC race bikes which were fast going up and rubbish going down. Despite its low weight and skinny forks and tires, the BMC never felt nervous or fragile when really hammering it down a trail. Yes, you’re always aware of the fact you’re on a very lightweight bike with all the skinny weight saving accouterments, but the Fourstroke surprises and impresses with how well it masks that and just lets you actually enjoy the descents and have fun.
The head angle, wheelbase, and low bottom bracket height contribute to how planted the bike feels in corners. Sink the bike fast and hard into a bermed corner and once the tires have done their job of scrabbling for grip, the Fourstroke is so assured and certain that you’re left in no doubt that maybe you could carry a bit more speed into this turn on the next lap. There’s adequate nimbleness for tucking the BMC around very tight corners though, it's not lazy at all, and it’s easy to pop the front wheel for getting over bigger obstacles, stepped roots, and drainage channels. Changes of direction happen almost telepathically. It flows from corner to corner, the stiffness of the front keeping everything tracking in the same direction and resisting twanging twisting forces when you load it up into corners.
I found the Fourstroke manageable on every trail I rode it. You do have to choose your lines more carefully, but that’s true of most bikes but more critically with this small amount of suspension. If you want to be able to just plow headfirst into chundery terrain and expect the bike to sort out the mess for you, well, this probably isn’t the bike for you. Just go watch any video of Nino Schurter and watch the way he’s floating over the trail choosing the fastest and smoothest line where possible.
We're all sold on dropper posts, right? Well, except XC purists who argue against the weight and the fact they feel they don't need them, but in the real world, they're bloody useful. The RAD integrated dropper post is a revelation. It's super easy to operate with a light action and the 80mm drop is plenty adequate to give you a bit more room to throw shapes down descents and carve the corners with higher speeds. It transforms the Fourstroke from a pure XC race bike into a rad little trail bike for blitzing local trails. I’ve ridden this bike through a British winter and it’s been abused a ton, but yet it’s still working perfectly with no sealing issues.
The suspension travel isn’t much on paper and be in no doubt that on chunkier trails or dropping off drops, you’re reminded that 100mm travel isn’t a lot - you can't just send it into a rocky trail and expect the suspension to look after you. You've got to dial up the skill level, choose the right line, and work with the bike to get through rough sections fast. The available suspension is well controlled, though, with a high progression that means it ramps up very well to handle any big impacts. As for the Fox 32 fork, I was surprised with how relatively stiff and controlled this fork felt in even the rowdier trails, with any deflection very hard to detect. That said, I swapped to the new stiffer 32 during the review, which beefed up front-end steering and braking control a touch - review on that coming soon.
Also, some hot chili peppers in your chamois can do wonders for the desire to finish the race as soon as possible
Why bother to clean something that's meant to be used nearly exclusively off-road? I can see keeping important mechanical areas clean, but that's it.
They didn't optimize _everything_: the chainstay doesn't change at all! How can it possibly be "optimized" for each size when top tube (and reach) and stem lengths change per size, but the chainstays don't?