BMC Fourstroke LT first ride review – a proper rowdy cross-country bike

What happens when you take a super progressive cross-country bike and beef it up with a downcountry spec?

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review
(Image: © Graham Cottingham)

Early Verdict

The Fourstroke LT has plenty of cross-country pep combined with a load of downcountry clout that lets you properly push BMC's progressive geometry hard.

Pros

  • +

    Low weight

  • +

    A playful and agile ride

  • +

    Confident straight-line speed

  • +

    Efficient pedaling dynamics

  • +

    Extremely quiet to ride

Cons

  • -

    Premium spec means premium pricing

  • -

    Playful ride rewards a dynamic riding style

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As part of BMC’s recent Fourstoke overhaul comes a completely new BMC Fourstroke LT. If you haven’t worked it out, LT stands for ‘long travel’ and denotes the bike's extra 20mm of travel over the XC bike, placing it firmly in the downcountry herd. 

I really liked the lightweight full-speed ride of the old BMC Fourstroke LT however it wasn’t without its issues. Derived from the radical for the time and very successful Fourstroke XC bike which was raced to Olympic gold no less, the LT version was a bit of an underachiever. Born in the early days of downcountry it had shortcomings, quirks, and a strong personality that ultimately made it hard to compete with the comparable best full-suspension mountain bikes.

Despite the downfalls, BMC has followed the same downcountry recipe for the new Fourstroke LT, taking the XC frameset, adding more travel, and beefing up components, but have they learned from past mistakes?

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review

The Fourstroke LT shares the same front and rear triangle as the shorter travel Fourstroke (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Design and specifications

As we have already let on, the Fourstroke shares a lot in common with the Fourstroke XC bike. BMC has used the same carbon front and rear end as the standard Fourstroke with the only modification being a longer shock stroke and a different shock link. Unlike the old Fourstroke LT, BMC was able to increase the travel to 120mm front and rear without negatively affecting the geometry in the process.

All the leading downcountry bikes usually have an extra degree or so of slackness thrown up front to better cater to the rowdier terrain that is expected from downcountry riding. But what do you do when your cross-country bike is already super progressive? It turns out, not a lot. BMC has made a conscious decision to give the LT the same geometry as its very capable cross-country cousin, keeping the same 66.5-degree head angle, 76.5-degree seat angle, 457mm (medium) reach, and 1172mm (medium) wheelbase. The only real difference is the LT’s much higher bottom bracket compared to the slammed cross-country bike, despite a 15mm increase the drop is still perfectly acceptable at 38mm. 

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review

Geometry is essentially the same as the other Fourstrokes with a higher bottom bracket the only noteable change  (Image credit: Maxime Schmid)

I was treated with the top-spec Fourstroke LT LTD bike, which means a decked-out kit list that wants for very little. The LTD gets Fox Factory spec suspension with a Float 34 SC Factory fork upfront and Float DPS shock. There is no remote lockout on the new Fourstroke LT so you will need to manually reach for the lockout lever if you want to stiffen the suspension although we generally kept it open as it was generally well-behaved when pedaling.

The SRAM X01 Eagle AXS offered smooth shifting and the only cables on show are the hoses of the SRAM G2 Ultimate four-pot brakes which are paired with 180mm rotors front and rear. The wheels are top-notch DT Swiss XRC 1501s with a 30mm inner diameter and a suitably grippy but fast-rolling Maxxis Rekon 2.4in tires.

Bad news if you had your heart set on BMC's Autodrop dropper post in a downcountry format, as that technology is reserved for the cross-country whippets, however, the good news is that the Fourstroke LT now uses a standard round post. While we liked the clean lines and performance of the previous RAD dropper, the 80mm of travel simply wasn’t enough and we were pleased to see the new bike fitted with a longer Rockshox Reverb AXS dropper.

The bike is finished with a Truvativ Atmos 7K stem, BMC MRB01 Carbon 760mm handlebar, and is finished with a Fizik Antares R5 saddle.

Graham Cottingham shredding some gnar

Stouter components and bigger tires gives the Fourstroke LT plenty of confidence (Image credit: Maxime Schmid)

Performance

Having already ridden the Fourstroke 01 TWO the day before, it was very clear straight away that the two bikes are cut from the same cloth. Riding the LT really shows what the Fourstroke platform is capable of, adding the downcountry spec with its stouter fork, wider wheels, and bigger tires immediately added a little more confidence on rough terrain with little sacrifice to overall speed. 

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review

More compliant suspension means the bike doesnt have to be ridden flat out to get the best from it (Image credit: Maxime Schmid)

The suspension on the old bike had a very clear personality, the sheer lunacy levels of speed it demanded was quite addictive but it wasn’t without its shortcomings. Cruisy runs or slow-speed tech trails became hard work and if you hit a corner any slower than Mach 10 you could feel the wheels struggling for traction. The new suspension kinematic allows the bike to sit deeper in its travel, offering up a much more compliant ride and greatly enhancing grip when cornering and braking and generally making the bike much easier to ride.

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review

Low weight and confident grip levels reward a lively ride style (Image credit: Maxime Schmid)

Although the new suspension doesn’t need the super aggressive riding style that the old bike demanded, the LT is still a cross-country race bike at heart. The extra travel gives it a softer experience but stick the boot in and all that race pedigree comes boiling back to the surface. Snappy pedaling performance paired with straight-line confidence means the LT is quickly up to speed on any trail, actively take control of the bike to leverage the light playful nature and it will continue to reward you with even more speed.

BMC Fourstroke 01 LT LTD review

There is plenty of efficiant climbing performance (Image credit: Maxime Schmid)

Early verdict

BMC have clearly learned from their lessons from the previous Fourstroke LT short fall’s. New geometry combined with recalibrated suspension and a longer standard-shaped dropper post means the new Fourstroke LT has answered our biggest criticisms. 

The new Fourstroke LT is a fast bike, but unlike the old version you don’t have to thrash it within an inch of its life to get the best from it. Instead, the added stability from the geometry and supple suspension kinematics works just as well at cruising or flowy speeds as it does when riding flat out. The low weight and snappy acceleration Fourstroke XC DNA still clearly shines through giving it a bright and lively ride and as the trail gets rougher, the downcountry spec lets you properly leverage BMC’s progressive cross-country geometry to its full potential.

Test conditions

  • Temperature: 25-30 degrees C
  • Surface: Dusty, rocky singletrack, World Cup cross-country training course

Tech specs: BMC Fourstroke LT LTD

  • Price: $12,499 / €11,999
  • Discipline: Cross-country / Downcountry
  • Frame: Fourstroke LT Carbon
  • Head angle: 66.5 degrees
  • Seat tube angle: 76.7 degrees
  • Reach: 457mm (medium tested)
  • Fork: Fox Float 34 SC Factory, Kashima Coating, FIT4
  • Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory, Kashima Coating, EVOL LV
  • Wheels: DT Swiss XRC 1501 Wheelset, 30mm Inner Width
  • Tires: Maxxis Rekon 2.4in TR EXO
  • Drivetrain: SRAM X01 Eagle AXS, 10-52 teeth 12-speed cassette
  • Brakes: SRAM G2 Ultimate / SRAM Centerline Rotors (180/180)
  • Seat post: Rockshox Reverb AXS
  • Saddle: Fizik Antares R5
  • Bar: BMC MRB01 Carbon, 760mm
  • Stem: Truvativ Atmos 7K
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Weight: TBC
Graham Cottingham
Senior reviews writer, Bike Perfect

Graham is all about riding bikes off-road. Based in Edinburgh he has some of the best mountain biking and gravel riding in the UK right on his doorstep. With almost 20 years of riding experience, he has dabbled in downhill, enduro and, most recently, gravel racing. Not afraid of a challenge, Graham has embraced bikepacking over the last few years and likes nothing more than strapping some bags to his bike and covering big miles to explore Scotlands wildernesses. When he isn’t shredding the gnar in the Tweed Valley, sleeping in bushes or tinkering with bikes, he is writing tech reviews for Bike Perfect and the muckier side of Cyclingnews 


Rides: Canyon Strive, 24 Bicycles Le Toy 3, Surly Steamroller

Height: 177cm

Weight: 71kg