Field Test: BMC Fourstroke LT - Gorgeous in Green

Oct 25, 2022 at 21:10
by Mike Levy  

PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

BMC Fourstroke LT One



Words by Mike Levy; photography by Tom Richards


BMC is short for Bicycle Manufacturing Company, which is about as exciting as cold oatmeal and probably why they use the acronym instead. Thankfully the boring name is the exact opposite of the bikes they sell, with the Swiss brand designing some truly unique and interesting products.

The 120mm-travel Fourstroke LT One is BMC's version of a long-legged cross-country bike and has 20mm more on both ends than the standard and more race-focused Fourstroke. It's a degree slacker as well, but it still comes with a lockout to control both ends for your finish-line sprint or maybe just to put the hurt on your buddies. Our 25.2 lb carbon test bike retails for $8,999 USD, which gets you a Fox Float 34 SC Performance Elite fork and Float shock, a wireless GX Eagle AXS drivetrain, and an aluminum DT Swiss XR 1700 wheelset.

BMC Fourstroke LT One Details

• Travel: 120mm / 120mm
• Carbon frame
• RAD 80mm integrated dropper
• 66.5º head angle
• 74.8º seat angle
• 429mm chainstays
• Reach: 440mm (med)
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 25.2 lb / 11.4 kg
• Price: $8,999 USD
• More info: www.bmc-switzerland.com
The Fourstroke LT is a thing of beauty, especially with the sparkly green paint and exceptionally clean lines. I don't know about you, but there's something about it that makes me believe it's from the future while also looking uncluttered and classy. The internal cable routing is tube-in-tube and the cables enter at the fork bumper on the downtube. Other notables include room for a single bottle inside the front triangle (nothing on the downtube), a minimalist molded chainstay protector, and the cutest little rubber fender to keep rocks and gunk from getting trapped between the frame and lower link.

The most interesting part of the BMC? That has to be the integrated dropper post.

There are some obvious reasons to be wary of an integrated anything, but the Race Application Dropper is certainly neat and has been around since 2018. Two bushings are pressed right into the bike's seat tube, and the post itself is oval-shaped which, according to BMC, "reduces weight while improving strength for reduced flex and uncompromised functionality under load." The whole thing is said to weigh just 345-grams, which is much less than most other droppers, and especially those with more travel than the 80mm all-mechanical, two-position RAD design offers.

I suspect that many of us would prefer more stroke, but on a 120mm-travel rig intended for marathon racing and fast riding some riders will be okay with less rather than none at all. Speaking of less, you only get 90mm of seat height adjustment in the frame, with the post-clamping bolt near the bottom of the seat tube rather than the top.




Bicycle Manufacturing Company uses a dual-link suspension layout that they say allows them to, "design complex kinematics that could not be achieved using weight-driven solutions like flex stays and single-pivot suspension systems." The upper link is carbon while the captured lower link is aluminum, and it's actually the same frame as the 100mm-travel bike, but it gets a longer stroke shock to deliver the added travel. If you're looking to downsize for some reason, all you need is a spacer from Fox to reduce the stroke.

The Fourstroke LT might have a bit more travel than a pure race bike, but the other numbers still point towards quick, responsive handling and a snappy ride. The 66.5-degree head angle is a degree slacker than the standard Fourstroke, and all sizes get short 429mm long chainstays and a 74.8-degree seat angle. Reach is conservative, with our medium-sized test bike sitting at 440mm, a large at 456mm, and an extra-large at only 476mm.

All of the above adds up to a respectable 25.2 lb (11.4 kg) after we installed the Specialized Ground Control tires that we put on all six of our test bikes.


BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards

BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards
BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards


Trailforks Regions Where We Tested

While we spent time at Massif de Charlevoix, the Empire 47 trail center, and both Sentiers du Moulin and Vallee Bras du Nord, most of my saddle time on the BMC took place at Mont-Sainte-Anne's cross-country park. You'll find plenty of short loops to smash out, all of which are easy to access from the trailhead and a good match for our short-travel test bike fleet. You can choose to climb singletrack or the gravel road up, while a mix of berms and flow or more natural, rooty trails take you back down to do another lap.

It may be "just" a blue square, but don't sleep on La Bouttaboutte, a fun route that traverses across the hillside, or La Lisière if you're looking for more of a challenge. There are also plenty of other lesser-known trails worth checking out in the same area, including a few freshies just waiting for your tire tracks.

Mont-Sainte-Anne XC Park

Climbing

If you ask me, the Fourstroke looks fast while it's just leaning up against a wall. The clock backs it up, with the BMC tied for the quickest uphill time during Sarah's laps. You wouldn't be surprised with that result if you pedaled the Fourstroke LT around for more than ten feet, though; both the riding position and relatively firm suspension are dead giveaways that this thing is all about speed, regardless of it having 20mm added room for fun.

Much like the BMC hardtail we reviewed at last year's Value Bike Field Test, the Fourstroke's front-end came slammed from the factory. For some reason, that's like dangling a still-warm glazed donut in front of me when I'm on a climb. Or a flat section. Or anywhere really, even though I'm fully aware that donut is hanging from a string off the front of my own helmet and that'll no amount of mashing on the pedals will let me taste it. I know that doesn't sound like "fun" to everyone, but riders nodding their head right now are the ones most in line with the Fourstroke's intentions.

There's an obvious efficiency to the suspension, and that goes well with the riding position to make for a bike that's always eager for your watts. There's also a lockout to firm up both the fork and shock, but I never once felt like I needed to activate Europe-mode, even when chasing that donut up the paved climb to the trailhead before the ride actually started.

The Swiss missile loves getting into the tight and twisties, too, easily carrying good speed through switchbacks versus longer, softer bikes like the BC40 and Wildcat that needed an extra second or two and a bit more elbow room. It's not all PRs and KOMs for the BMC, though, as both of those bikes had far more grip and success whenever climbs got really muddy and slippery. The Allied in particular rewards you for staying seated, carrying more momentum when possible, and tractor-ing straight up through that patch of shiny roots, whereas the firmer Fourstroke is more likely to get knocked offline and less likely to find any traction after that happens. It's still a monster on the climbs, and especially when watts are more important than line choice, but it won't do you any favors if you're trying to keep your dab count low.


BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards

BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards
BMC Fourstroke LT photo by Tom Richards

Descending

If you've gotten this far, I probably don't need to tell you that the Fourstroke LT isn't focused on descending... But the Fourstroke LT isn't focused on descending. That's important to stress because sometimes I think we forget that not every bike is trying to be your trail bike, even if it has 120mm rather than 100mm of travel. This BMC is a cross-country weapon, through and through, and is a ton of fun on most downhills once I got that fact through my thick skull.

The bike comes alive when you realize that no, you don't need a 300mm dropper post or handlebars higher than your nipples to have fun, just a willingness to cartwheel through the rhubarb when you go past the BMC's very well-defined edge of control. With a short-ish wheelbase and firm-ish suspension, that edge comes much sooner than it does on all the other short-travel bikes we have in Quebec, aside from the Lapierre that wants to live its entire life over the edge. Having just 80mm of seat drop didn't help, of course, and neither does the fact that you literally can't install any other post on the bike due to the frame's oval-shaped tube and proprietary design.

Now that I've got all that out of my system, I can also say that the Fourstoke is fast as hell on the right kind of descent, which is obviously anything not steep or technical or rough. On flowier sections of trail that ask you to pump and carry speed it can feel like an oversized BMX bike of sorts, especially if it's tighter than faster. Ride the bike with precision and stay engaged, and it'll easily get through anything and everything I'd consider cross-country-able. I may have even accidentally pointed the BMC down some chutes that were more suitable to that other-country that we won't mention here and it more than held its own, even if I did quickly realize that baggy shorts and short-travel droppers can be a sketchy combo.

As for the Fourstroke LT's 120mm of suspension, it didn't do anything wrong but also didn't wow any of us in any way during testing. Both Matt and I made similar notes about it feeling a bit more supple and active than the Lapierre, but also that both bikes were more chattery and less forgiving over fast rough ground than the others. You'll likely find yourself standing more when riding the BMC than on the Allied or even the Ibis for that reason.


Quebec Field Test Tom Richards photo


Back to that clever proprietary seatpost before we wrap this up: I broke it. Actually, I only broke the bolt at the bottom of the seat tube that clamps the whole thing in place, and while I likely could have found something by taking a trip to the local Quincaillerie Limoilou, the correct bolt includes an O-ring seal and would be the right fix. It snapped when I was tightening it by holding onto the very short end of my tiny multi-tool and I very definitely wasn't using a torque wrench. Just being honest.



Pros

+ It's absolutely gorgeous, isn't it?
+ Fast and efficient when you're on the gas
+ Could easily do double-duty as your cross-country race bike


Cons

- There are more forgiving bikes with less suspension
- Proprietary seatpost needs more travel, is proprietary



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesThe Fourstroke LT might have more travel than the standard version, but there's no mistaking the Swiss missile's intentions as a cross-country weapon that's just as eager for some time between the tape as it is for your weekend epic into the alpine. There are better descending and more capable bikes in the same category, though, so the BMC is best suited to a rider who doesn't want to get too saucy on that alpine descent back to the valley floor. Mike Levy






The 2022 Downcountry Field Test is presented by Quebec City Mountain Bike, Sweet Protection and Specialized Ground Control Tires





108 Comments

  • 136 1
 Would have been cooler if they named it two stroke, and gave it 125mm of travel.
  • 24 1
 That is an excellent idea.
  • 9 3
 Two stroke is the name of their HT line
  • 7 31
flag OnTheRivet (Oct 27, 2022 at 11:18) (Below Threshold)
 How many will get this reference. Have to know old school moto.
  • 26 3
 @OnTheRivet: you're so unique.
  • 9 1
 @OnTheRivet: I mean, they still make 2-stroke dirt bikes, in fact both KTM and Husky offer more 2-stroke bikes than 4.
Lots of other brands still sell em, nothing old-school about them
  • 6 0
 @onawalk: It's kinda funny that ~20 years ago moto/supercross bikes were all two strokes and most(or at least many) trail/endros motorcycles were four strokes. Now it's the complete opposite.
  • 1 0
 A wee little Green Machine!
  • 6 0
 Ironic since a brand new top-of-the-line MX is cheaper than this Four Stroke.
  • 1 2
 @sevensixtwo: incorrect. Google it.
  • 4 0
 "Swiss Missile"....fit for a king

Detachable P.......
  • 2 0
 Can they make the paint scented like two-stroke oil?
  • 81 0
 It would be sweet if these videos didn't auto play. Kind of makes me look like a dirtbag at work when audio starts playing unexpectedly at my desk lol.
  • 20 1
 why is your audio not mute by default? Please don't tell me you are not watching pornhub at work...
  • 18 0
 this. autoplay on and no off option is really really bad ux. please fix that @pinkbike
  • 14 0
 Agreed, the auto play can frig off.
Is there a legit reason why any videos on the site auto play?
Does anyone like that feature?
  • 2 1
 Mine doesn’t autoplay on my iPad.
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: mine did for sure, wonder if there’s something to toggle on or off
  • 6 0
 Under your username, top right hand side of banner Click through to profile Edit profile, blue button Scroll to bottom, video settings button Turn off auto play to videos Sorry for my whinging, I should have looked for a solution first
  • 5 0
 I lied,
I turned off auto play, but the videos still auto play when I open the page.

@brianpark, maybe worth looking into?
  • 2 0
 @onawalk: Same here, changed the autoplay setting but still autoplay.
  • 1 0
 @Punniker: Same here.
  • 29 0
 Maybe it's just my headphones, but could y'all turn down the background music in future videos? Kinda hard to hear everyone chat.
  • 30 0
 Audio is a dogs breakfast.
  • 24 0
 Agreed the audio is rough; Sarah's mic clipping like crazy, Matt and Mike sound like they keep bouncing between the lav mic and maybe the room mic (reverb is all over the place). Hope they can fix this in the next videos.
  • 1 0
 @acrossthec: Sounds like their mics were picking up the others so you'd have multiple inputs for each persons voice when speaking. Seems they did the best to correct it by cutting audio for each of the three when they weren't speaking...but any time more than one mic input was used, it got...weird.

To the PB team though, still a good video and review. It's kind of like complaining about a free dinner.
  • 24 2
 Looks like a rad bike. To me this is what a "downcountry" bike should be - a bike that you can still race XC with and makes those flowy non-technical trails come alive. A heavy short travel bike doesn't make much sense imo
  • 22 1
 For sure, this is what I feel a downcountry bike should be: it's XCAF but you can also skid down some steep things without feeling like you're about to die.
  • 3 1
 @mikelevy: Yet it's constantly referred to as a marathon xc in the video. Suggest a scale with Down at one end and Country at the other with an X where each bike sits Wink .
PS love the way you are able to look simultaneously sketchy and stylish in these videos. Is how Levy looks when riding the true test of if a bike is DC or not?
  • 13 1
 9 grand on a speed focused marathon and epic backcountry race bike and you get aluminum wheels? Wide-ish carbon wheels that are lightweight and durable have been the biggest equipment improvement for me in this category of bike. I thought surely this would be standard equipment on the 9k builds!
  • 4 1
 GX stamped steel chainring is he dumbest move a marketing department could make on a 9k bike. Spend a few more bucks and put the bling one on there.
  • 2 0
 Yea, it's not good value.
My 2022 Orbea Oiz M Pro TR costs 6500$ dollars new (with 25% tax) and it has fox factory all the way, carbon wheels and it's lighter
  • 2 0
 @laupe: Heck my BC40 with custom paint, Full AXS (dropper too), ENVE M630s only cost a 1500 more.
  • 2 0
 @numbnuts1977: I bought mine for 5800$ (converted) and i'm happy with what i got for my money. Yours seems like a good value too!
  • 10 0
 This version of the seat post is a deal breaker for me. I am super interested in what BMC is doing with droppers though - I LOVE the "auto drop" tech they are bringing and can't wait to see longer travel versions of that. There may come a model when their integrated dropper is a huge selling point, but alas it is not for this 4 Stroke.
  • 6 0
 Same, I love the idea but the bike deserves a post with more drop.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: counter point…..rigid post and shave another pound off Smile
  • 13 1
 Why are you reviewing the old model? They *just* came out with a new model year!
  • 21 0
 The new one looks super interesting, but this is the bike they sent us for the Field Test.
  • 22 0
 @mikelevy: that is baffling from them lol
  • 6 2
 oh wow, the new model is a completely different bike without all of the "integration" nightmares (looks like a spur/element copy).
  • 12 0
 I'd love to see the emails the audio engineer wrote to the manufacturer of the lapel mics
  • 9 1
 In the spirit of this being the "old" bike; you know what would be wild to see? A field test of OLD vs. NEW for the same category. Like 2015-16 vs. the bikes of 2022. Things like the OG Ripley, OG 429 Trail vs. bikes from today. I personally think the trail bike category has gone too far with the 64* HTA and 78* STA and I'd love to see a review also of 140-150 bikes from those same timeframes compared. I think the results might be surprising depending on the terrain. Now if we take all our trail bikes down bike park trails then maybe not. But testing old vs. new on what are "real world" trails for many of us might be a wake up call.
  • 3 0
 This is such a cool idea. Also I totally agree that trail bikes have gone too far for what the majority of folks have available to ride.
  • 1 0
 So many options...

OG Nomad vs modern Nomad
OG Slash/Remedy vs modern Slash/Remedy
OG Stumpy/Enduro vs modern Stumpy/Enduro
OG Altitude/Element/Slayer vs modern Altitude/Element/Slayer
  • 2 0
 @jsnfschr: OG orange vs modern orange.....
  • 2 0
 @kcy4130: Is there a difference? Lol
  • 5 0
 Great looking bike, love BMC struggling with that price… $9k and not getting carbon wheels and fox factory? Want to love this but that price point makes no sense. You could get an Orbea Oiz with fox factory (120/120), carbon wheels and sub 25lbs for a few thousand less
  • 1 0
 Yea i have a Oiz with those specs and the retail price is 6500$ (with 25% tax)
  • 7 0
 9k for what is essentially a gx level bike with an $800 axs upgrade? Is everybody taking crazy pills?
  • 1 0
 Yea, it's total nonsense
  • 7 0
 Pinkbike videos now autoplaying is the website equivalent of headset hose routing.
  • 2 0
 On their Two Stroke hardtail the seat post is D shaped and you can buy a shim from them which gives you a round 27.2 seat post enabling you to fit a proper dropper (eg 125 PNW Rainier). Given the frame is the same design is the “oval” you have referenced effectively the “D” shape so a longer dropper could be possible?
  • 3 0
 I have their URS gravel bike (which has been amazing BTW) that also uses a D-shaped post and comes with a shim to fit a 27.2mm normal post. But everything I've seen and read says that no, you can't install any other seatpost onto the Fourstroke LT or any bike that uses their RAD dropper.

I think if it had 150mm of travel and more than 90mm of adjustment, I'd be into it for sure.
  • 5 0
 So 9k bikes are now equipped with mid-range wheels? Don't get me wrong, XR1700 are fantastic, but for that price.... LOL.
  • 3 0
 Yaaa at $9k I agree with you. My $6k Spur came with the same wheels, which I am super happy with and have been great, but at a nearly 5 figure price tag, they should prob be carbon.
  • 4 0
 Is there no budget for sound on these shoots? Holy christ. I’m sure there are some talented young folks who could knock it out for a reasonable rate.
  • 2 0
 Seeing Sarah here (and hats off to her for her work) made me think of Alicia--does anyone have an update on her recovery? I stopped over on her Instagram, no updates there.

I miss her input on the ride reviews because I feel like we have similar riding styles. Wishing her nothing but the best!
  • 2 0
 The go fund me page that’s been set up for her is updated pretty regularly

www.gofundme.com/f/alicia-and-her-family-with-medical-costs?qid=6cd93493714a0324521fbe3daa339f12
  • 1 0
 @joeybwonderful: Appreciate that, Joey. Thanks!
  • 4 0
 any particular reason the Spesh Ground control were selected for "control" tires?
  • 4 0
 They are a great value tire for this bike type imo.
  • 15 0
 I mean it's right there in the name...
  • 1 0
 It's a great rear trail tyre. Big fan of them so far.
  • 12 0
 They needed a control tire for this specialized application. Procurement misunderstood the spec and ordered a tire with both words in the name.
  • 3 0
 spesh are a sponsor of the field test.
  • 4 0
 9K and middle of the pack components? GX, Performance Fork, XR1700 alloy wheels -- way over-priced.
  • 5 3
 These guys should not review xc bikes. They don’t ride xc and do a poor job at reviewing. How about the do an xc race and review after? Get rid of those baggies for crying out loud! I mean that says it all.
  • 1 0
 This is a hot take. The reviewers are much closer to your average rider (particularly on PinkBike) and their experience is applicable to prob 90% of people reading/watching the review. If you're a serious XC racer, this prob isn't the bike for you, and you have other people doing reviews that fit that category better.

They're already doing timed laps, do you think anything wild is going to come out of doing the same thing in a "race"?
  • 2 0
 @tgent: Yes they are probably closer to the average rider, but i don't think an average rider would even consider this bike.
And yes this bike is 100% for serious xc racers.
Those timed runs cannot be trusted when compairing the bikes, to many factors to play a part of the time
  • 14 0
 @EzraTbikes - Huh, and here I thought had almost thirty years of cross-country riding and racing behind me but I guess you're right given that I'm wearing baggies in this video...? One of my favorite types of rides is when I take my gravel bike to the city and show up for random group road rides while wearing baggy shorts and a t-shirt. The roadies generally don't like that, especially because I step on many of their balls even though I'm wearing a t-shirt Wink
  • 4 2
 You are just proving the point why most riders don't like the elitist xc/roadie types who can't do a ride without thier tap shoes and spandex
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: There’s nothing wrong with wearing baggies or t-shirts. I have never owned a road bike nor do I prefer to ride on the road. One of my favorite types of rides is showing up in tights to a bike park or enduro ride. The enduro bike park bros generally don’t like, especially when they can’t keep up. Icing on the cake is when your on an xc bike Smile My point here was that these are race weapons designed with input by some of the fastest riders in the world. The 80mm dropper post was done on purpose for racing application only. Maybe BMC is to blame partially because they sent you that version/spec and asked it to be reviewed in the down country category. My comment was not meant to be an insult although I can see why it came off that way. I’d love to see xc reviews done I’m real races. How stiff is the bike when sprinting? How did the lock out feel? How well did it climb on steep rooted climbs? What was the feel around tight sharp corners? Was the suspension harsh? Would it be a good marathon bike? Did it feel light? Was the seatube in a position that felt like good power could be delivered to the cranks while seated? Ya get my point… cheers!
  • 1 0
 Would really like to hear how the BMC and Ibis compare to some of the top performers from last year's test like the Top Fuel and the Blur TR. Currently have a Norco Revolver FS as my one and only MTB that has to cover XC racing and trail riding/training. Would love a bike that is more capable in the trails and descents that is just as fast on the race course and it sounds like these XC biased down country bikes are where I should be looking.
  • 2 0
 People have been suggesting this for years now, and I think PB certainly would love to do it, but logistically it's just difficult. It would be cool to have a "running winner" aka pick your favorite bike from the field test, bring it back next year, and then pick again, you could have a favorite that holds the crown for multiple field tests. The Spec Enduro in the enduro field test and the Transition Spur from the downcountry test come to mind as bikes that may have held the crown from prior years.
  • 4 0
 So the integrated dropper is the BMC version of a Lefty?
  • 4 0
 At least you can swap a Lefty for a regular fork..
  • 4 0
 Cold oatmeal defense league here. What's wrong with you guys ?
  • 2 0
 Nice looking bike. That seatpost would be a deal breaker for me though. Nothing worse than proprietary b/s that breaks all too easily.
  • 2 0
 Proprietary, it broke during the test, press-fit, only 80mm on a 120mm bike...it ticks all the wrong boxes.
  • 1 0
 How would you compare this Fourstroke to the Scott Spark you guys tested a while back? I recently did a test ride of the Spark and loved it, would be interested to hear how you rank them in uphill/downhill capabilities.
  • 2 0
 I'd guess that the Evil will be on the opposite end of the spectrum despite having the same rear travel.
  • 3 0
 This money for this spec? GFYBMC.
  • 4 1
 26lbs with pedals for $9000, loooool no.
  • 1 0
 Great bike, but unfortunately only 80mm dropper post on 120mm "downcountry" bike is just not enough. For me, it would be 100% deal breaker! Frown
  • 1 1
 “Fourstroke isn’t focused on descending.” What would Henry say about this? Or would he give the same type of hate as the Lux Trail? Curious how those two would compare.
  • 6 0
 Having ridden both bikes, Fourstroke LT > Lux Trail
  • 1 0
 Levy didn't list the single bottle cage on an XC bike as a con... He really must of loved how this bike looked
  • 2 0
 Big Man on Campus...is this what BMC stands for?
  • 2 0
 9k for that build seems a little crazy, way too proud of that frame.
  • 1 0
 the integrated dropper that has to be a specific model is some roadie bleedover that I dont want
  • 2 0
 BMC really stands for "Bikes Made'n China" or "Break My Carbon". sarc/
  • 1 0
 The disproportionately large down tube makes it look like an ebike. Would be better with a motor and battery.
  • 1 0
 Some pretty nice riding in there, Michael. Shame the audio intern did you guys dirty though.
  • 2 0
 Just in time for a 2023 complete redesign
  • 1 0
 Proprietary stuff is only good if you can replace it for non proprietary stuff Razz
  • 1 0
 Nice review. Not the bike for me but looks good. Keep the reviews coming. Awesome job PB
  • 1 0
 I have had a BMC for a decade and never knew it was an acronym for Bicycle Manufacturing Company. Thank you.
  • 1 0
 Cool to see the bike be compatible with all these droppers!
Wait…
  • 1 0
 Where is Alicia Leggett??
  • 1 0
 www.gofundme.com/f/alicia-and-her-family-with-medical-costs + on that page click on "See older updates"
  • 1 0
 @Strenki: that was sarcasm due to PB not saying anything on this page. Good thing Transition and Santa Cruz have done stuff though!
  • 1 0
 429mm chainstays
  • 1 0
 Cons — price
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