bmc te02 29

Mid Term: BMC TE02 Carbon 29″er- by Grannygear

Ok.  This time I will begin with a shot of the BMC TE02 in a wide view so you know that I am not being sneaky (referring to a previous comment by a reader) and to show the state of the beast, so to speak.  I have been riding the BMC under typical So Cal XC conditions for quite a few hours now after I went through a set up phase to get it to fit me.  In fact, lets start off with that issue of fit.

BMC, just what do the really big guys do to fit well on a TE0XX series carbon hardtail 29″er?  The sizing stops at a Large but that large has a generous toptube length of 24.8″/631mm, right where a lot of XL frames might be (and the steepish 73.5° seat tube angle pushes that out even more).  That is just in my range…25″ to 25.25″ or so…so that works for me, but not with the stock 70mm stem.  I would be on a 100mm stem more often that not.  So in order for my 6’2″, lanky armed torso to fit on this bike properly, I had to swap to a 90mm Easton stem and that was still a bit off, but close enough.  The rest of the fit was good although the short head tube did have the flat bars a bit low, but for an aggressive XC type deal, it was acceptable.  However;  a 90mm stem is getting farther away from BMC’s Big Wheel Concept of pushing the front end out for stability and reeling the cockpit back in with a short stem, wide bars.  And, if I had gone to a 100mm stem, it would have been even farther from that idea.

bmc te02 29

So, again, what does a truly tall rider do?  Dunno.

Now that it fit me well enough, it was time to get on trail.  If you have never ridden a fine carbon hardtail 29″er, you should.  It is very rewarding.  The stock Easton seat post, even in aluminum, does a good job compliance wise and the frame feels smooth on trail.  BMC’s claim of designed in vertical compliance without giving away pedaling stiffness (called TCC) seems to have merit as the bike is a smoothie, often feeling almost ‘springy’ under hard hits to the back end.  I like.  I would say that it is nearly or is just as comfy as the buttery smooth 2013 Speshy Stumpy SS frame but the TE02 is stiffer in the back end under hard, seated pedaling loads than the Stumpjumper is (something that I was told Specialized addressed with the 2014 models).  This bike will not beat you up but it is solid when you pedal it.

The handling is unique with those 16.8″/429mm chain stays and that 70* head tube angle.  I never felt the front end was slow to turn, not with that aggressive forward feeling cockpit and short back end.  It was a very nice combo of calm under speed and good agility.  It was a good example to me of the idea that if you shorten up the back end, you should lengthen the front to keep the bike balanced.  You do lose something in that short rear center though.  Under braking on steeper or faster trails, especially if the surface was loose or bumpy, like washboard or ruts, the back end would tend to want to come around beside you.  Not tragic, but it would happen fast so you needed to expect that.  Steep seated climbs were not an issue like I might have expected, like with the front wheel getting light, most likely due to the forward and low cockpit.  Overall I liked the handling very much but as a taller rider, I would have liked a bit taller head tube and, yes, even a slightly longer chain stay.  Gasp!

Still, it was very rewarding on trail and would make a fine endurance race bike with the ride characteristics and the confident steering.

bmc te02 29

The components were pretty solid although I sure missed the Shadow Plus clutch type on the XT rear derailleur, apparently a budget decision.  Note the large section of inner tube I wrapped on there to keep things happy and hushed.  The stock chain stay ‘protector’ is barely thicker than a decal.  Not on MY carbon frame you don’t!  The Fox fork with its remote lever design adds a nice function to the bike but at a cost to the eyes.  I set the remote to spool enough cable when ‘locked out’ to not be truly locked out but very resistant to  movement and that was juuuust right.  I understand Fox re-designed the levers of shame for that remote.  Good.  Feng Shui, perhaps?

The wheels are holding the bike back for being better under quick accelerations.  I weighed the front combo of Onza Canis 2.25 tire with tube and the DT Swiss X1800 wheel and found it to be 4lbs/5oz..1956g.  The front wheel off my SS with the Ringle front hub/32 spokes/alloy nips/AC 101 rim/Maxxis 2.2 Ikon run tubeless was 3lbs/9oz..1615g.  Quite a difference and you can feel it on extended sprints where the bike builds speed pretty quickly but is challenged with maintaining acceleration.   Of course nothing so changes a 29″er than light wheels and that is just the way it is.  These are fine for all around use as stock, but racing them might be less than you desire.  I never fully came to trust the tires.  I had them wash out on me (in front) under conditions that should not have produced a slow speed crash.  The culprit seems to be the flexy side knobs.  That does not play well where I live.  Your mileage may vary and a bike product manger has to spec SOME kind of a tire knowing that trail conditions are not the same everywhere.

I got ahold of a DT Swiss tubeless kit for this rim and went to install it but it never came off.  My fault, that failure to launch.  The kit is kind of involved, what with a thin layer of double stick tape and a press in rim strip kind of like a Bontrager TLR uses.  It actually was decently easy to install and the tire inflated right away with a floor pump but I had forgotten a conversation with a product manger for DT Swiss when we were getting the kits sent out.  The X1800 rim is pinned, not welded at the seam so it is a good idea to epoxy that section closed for air fastness.  I forgot.  Epic fail.  Air leaking into rim cavity…light bulb begins dim then goes to bright as I remember…ooooohhh yeah…pinned rim seam….hang head in shame.  Sigh.  And to remove the kit means destroying the double stick tape which I may have extra of or not and well, that was that.  I did weigh the result and only saved three ounces over stock.  I just hate thorn flats.  So back to tubes for the duration.  Sorry ’bout that.

The XT stuff…brakes, drive train (save the lack of Shadow Plus) was just as you have come to expect from Shimano.  Excellent.

You may notice that I changed the saddle to a different fizik model so I had a happy butt.  That matters to me.  TMI?  You are welcome.

So to sum up…other than a bit of a struggle to fit the bike to my needs and stay within the BMC ideals of the maker, the TE02 is a viable option, both as a XC/trail bike hard tail (not AM stuff, of course) and a race bike, especially with a set of race day wheels on hand.  To finish up things, I let Navy Mike at the BMC for a few rides and I will let him wrap things up soon.

Note: BMC sent over the TE02 29 for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.