Bike Test: BMC Fourstroke FS01 – Nothing Lost In The Translation

The BMC Fourstroke FS01

‘Nothing Lost In The Translation’

All too often, a mountain bike dreamed up in a distant land hits our shores as if it were intended for some alien life form (which, we guess, is how most Europeans think of Americans). It is usually worse if the bike is intended for cross-country racing. That’s why we were shocked by Switzerland’s BMC Fourstroke FS01 cross-country racer. We expected the bike to speak in broken English and eat raw meat for breakfast, but it turned out to be one of the gang with nothing lost in the translation.

BMC labels the Fourstroke FS01 a dual-suspension cross-country race bike?and that it is. We found out quickly that the FS01 doesn’t mind being pressed into service as a trailbike for the rider who wants a tight, lively ride at a speed that can leave a smoke trail.

The Fourstroke FS01 is made from carbon fiber, and BMC takes full advantage of the material’s properties to form every tube into a proprietary shape. The frame tubes look rather massive, but tapping them with a finger reveals these are not thick-walled. The swingarm is all carbon and uses what BMC calls their Natural Born Postmount (so the brake caliper attaches without the need for extra brackets). The rear suspension is BMC’s rendition of a dual-link system, dubbed the APS, or Advanced Pivot System.

Now don’t get bummed out because this here is a 2010 model. The 2011 model uses the same frame with a few upgrades (a SRAM X0 2×10 drivetrain and Easton EA90 wheels). Our bike still has plenty of crossover, including the BMC Race Post seatpost and beautiful Selle Italia saddle. The suspension pivot hardware shows how much effort went into the small details.

BMC takes a lot of guesswork out of rear suspension sag adjustment with suggested sag settings marked on the upper link that align with a line on the seat tube when the rider is seated. It is difficult to align the markings by yourself, so enlist a friend’s help and start with the sag set one line in front of the “neutral” setting.

Moving out: BMC does not force its FS01 rider into a punishing position. Instead, you feel ideally positioned in the center of the bike. Dare we say it? The rider position is downright comfortable.

Cornering: Unlike many twitchy cross-country race bikes, the FS01 feels comfortable in the corners. Not slow or lethargic, but not hyper, either. It is an ideal blend of quick and stable that responds well to counter steering and holds its line like it has an inch more travel.

Hammering: The 26-inch wheels get up to speed like nobody’s business, and the frame backs up your legs’ input with laterally stiff performance. There’s no way you are going to flex this ride.The biggest surprise was the rear suspension’s performance under hard efforts. We tried it with the shock ProPedal on and off, and all of us chose the latter on everything but pavement. You will see slight suspension movement under hard efforts if you look, but you won’t feel it.

Climbing: We stayed seated for the best results, but the centered riding position doesn’t penalize you too much for out-of-the-saddle efforts. The bike rewards you during those times when a little extra effort is needed to clear a rock or short wall during your climb. The key is to keep your shoulders low to the bars and hammer away. We seldom climbed with the ProPedal on. The rear suspension behaves nicely on its own.

Braking: Wow. The rear suspension remains active during braking and allows the rider to drive deeper into corners? even if those are downhill, off-camber corners.

Descending: The suspension feels balanced while descending, and the frame shows no weakness. That results in speeds you’d expect from a longer- travel bike. While some riders think more is better, when it comes to suspension, we’ll just take “better.” And BMC gives you better.

Racers will like how fast the wheels can be removed from the fork or frame for fast flat repair during a race. We noticed that the Schwalbe Knobby Nic is a tight squeeze under the chainstay’s upper arch. If you plan on using your FS01 for trail riding, you will not get a tire much fatter than this to work in the rear.

BMC has made a cross-country race bike for American riders. They realize that we like bombing the downhills as much or more than climbing them. We expect a lot out of our bikes and won’t settle for handling, braking or suspension compromises “because it is a race bike.” The Fourstroke FS01 delivers on the racecourse or the trail. Thanks for taking the time to get to know us, BMC

For more information: BMC Swiss Cycling Technology

Reprinted from the January 2011 issue of Mountain Bike Action Magazine