PINKBIKE FIELD TRIP
BMC TWO STROKE AL ONE
Perfect for your first XC race.
Words by Sarah Moore, Photography by Tom Richards
We're over halfway through the hardtail reviews in our Field Trip value bike series
and up next we've got the BMC Two Stroke AL ONE, a cross-country hardtail that comes with a 100mm fork. It retails for $1,599 USD.
BMC says the Two Stroke is best suited to riders who want to rip around a cross-country race track and chase uphill personal records. BMC has some of the world’s fastest XC racers on their bikes, including two-time Olympic gold medallist Julien Absalon and current World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot, so we were excited to get this race-focused value hardtail in for testing. I mean, it looks fast just standing still.
BMC Two Stroke AL ONE
Fork travel: 100mm
Wheel size: 29"
Frame construction: aluminum
Head angle: 67 degrees
Chainstay length: 425mm
Reach: 445mm (medium)
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
Weight: 27.75 lb / 12.6 kg
Price: $1,599 USD
More info: www.bmc-switzerland.com
The aluminum frame has internal cable routing, a threaded bottom bracket, and an integrated fork stopper, which means your bars won’t spin and damage your bike if you crash. It comes in sizes small through XL, all with 29er wheels.
As for the geometry, with a 67° headtube angle, and a 75° effective seat-tube angle, the BMC might not sound like that aggressive of a bike if you’re comparing it to trail bikes, but it has a half a degree slacker headtube angle than any of the bikes we tested in the XC Field Test earlier this year. Our size medium comes with a 445mm reach and it's pretty neat to see that kind of modern geometry on a value bike.
There are two aluminum models of the Two Stroke, with prices starting at $1,199 USD. If you want a carbon version, there are four models to choose from with prices starting at $2,199 USD. Our test bike here is the BMC Two Stroke AL ONE which has a 100mm Rock Shox Recon RL with a lockout on the handlebar, a mix of SRAM NX and SX making up the drivetrain, and Shimano Deore brakes. It comes with Vittoria Barzo 2.25'' tires with tan sidewalls. There’s no dropper post on this bike, which is not uncommon for cross-country bikes, even ones that aren't value-oriented.Climbing
The BMC Two Stroke doesn't just look fast with its shiny red paint and tan sidewalls, it also felt like the fastest climber of all the value hardtails. While our bike wasn't delivered with spacers to raise the front end, the bike is usually delivered with them so that the rider can find the perfect fit for them regardless of how much yoga they have done. Regardless of how low or high you prefer your cockpit, there's no denying that the Two Stroke's aggressive position makes you want to push on the pedals and power up every climb. Compared to the Vitus, you're in a much lower, more aggressive position over the front end and it makes easy work of smooth, gravel climbs as well as tight, twisty singletrack.
While it's superb on all climbs, if you're on a more technical climb, you do have to be very precise about line choice or you’ll get bumped off line. In a similar vein, if you’re doing a lot of flat, rooty traverses, the lack of rear suspension will be fatiguing since your body has to make up for the lack of rear suspension. One nitpick about the spec is that it's not the easiest to shift when your legs are full of lactic acid and you're not thinking straight from lack of oxygen. The mix of SX and NX isn't as good as Deore 12-speed and the ergonomics of the shifter make it kind of hard to reach
With a bar-mounted lock out and fast-rolling tires, it's easy to imagine this bike on the race course. The steering is precise and it makes easy work of whatever climb it's pointed at, perfect for picking off your competitors one by one. For someone who is just getting into cross-country racing or just wants a really fast climber as their second bike, the BMC has plenty to offer in the way of horsepower. Descending
While the geometry numbers that the BMC Two Stroke offers might not seem that progressive, they really are for a cross-country bike. If you're coming from an older cross-country bike and you're upgrading to the BMC Two Stoke, you are going to see a significant difference in descending prowess thanks to the modern geometry and smooth RockShox Recon fork. You'll see an additional improvement to your descending times if you shell out the extra cash for a dropper post.
Of course, if we compare the BMC Two Stroke to the other hardtails we were riding on the Sunshine Coast, it's not the most capable on the descents. You're going to be picking your lines carefully, not leaning into the fast-rolling tires too much on the corners, and wishing that you had a dropper post every other minute. Of course, none of that is important if you made it to the top of the climb minutes head of all your competition.
All in all, BMC says the Two Stroke is suited to the XC race track and chasing uphill personal records, and I would have to agree. This bike might not be a sub-20 lb. hardtail, but it looks and feels fast when you get it out on the trails. It would be the perfect bike for a high school racer or their parent getting into the cross-country race scene. If you’re racing more technical terrain, you might want to consider adding a dropper post, but for smooth courses with a lot of climbing, the BMC Two Stroke AL ONE is a great choice.
Forward-thinking geometry for an XC race bike+
Aggressive climbing position
Nervous descender, especially without dropper post-
Low front end not adjustable-
Not much in the way of frame protection
The 2021 Pinkbike Field Test was made possible with support from Toyota.
Video: Jason Lucas, Max Barron
Editing: Tom Richards