Field Test: Allied Cycle Works BC40 – The Fun Race Bike

0
PINKBIKE FIELD TEST

Ally Cycle Works BC40


Words by Mike Levy; photography by Tom Richards
Allied Cycle Works might not be as well known as some other brands in this group test which is definitely not a shootout, but they actually make carbon frames at their factory in northwest Arkansas since 2016. The 120mm-travel BC40 is their first mountain bike, however, and they say the new 29er, ”mixes XC Race with Downcountry capability. ”

There are plenty of paint and price options to choose from, starting with the XT-equipped version that costs $7,250 or a frame/shock/fork kit for $5,590. Our test bike is equipped with an X01 AXS wireless drivetrain, Industry Nine carbon wheels, factory-level Fox suspension, and a price tag of $10,755.

Details Allied BC40

• Travel: 120mm
• Carbon frame
• 66.5º head angle
• 76º seat angle
• 435mm chainstays
• Reach: 445 mm (medium)
• Sizes: S, M (tested), L, XL
• Weight: 24.9 lbs / 11.2 kg
• Price: $10,755
• More info: www.alliedcycleworks.com

Not only does Allied prep and paint the carbon frame themselves, they also machine all of the aluminum components like the suspension linkage. It’s also light, as you’d expect for a bike meant for serious cross-country riding; the frame is said to weigh just 1,950 grams. The checklist includes cables inside the frame (including the optional shock lockout), a threaded bottom bracket, a replaceable rear brake mount and, remarkable on a bike intended for long, hard racing, room for a large bottle on the downtube and a smaller one on the seat tube.

The bike seems firmly focused on racing and efficiency, with Allied claiming the frame uses an “unrivaled pedaling platform” and naming events such as the lung-busting Leadville 100 and Marathon Nationals that would suit the personality of the bike. BC40. The suspension layout is similar to what we see many weight-conscious designs using: a relatively simple single-pivot system with an aluminum rocker for lateral stiffness and to achieve the desired kinematics, and the all-important flex pivot at the stall level to save ballast. Sealed bearings and steerer bolts are heavy compared to flex carbon fiber bits, and some brands claim to save up to 200 grams by using a flex steerer, so it’s no surprise to see it on another bike fast.

Given that many BC40s are likely to find themselves in some weekend cross-country race, while others might see rougher terrain than they anticipated, Allied couldn’t be too loose or too aggressive with handling. They went with a 66.5-degree front end that makes a lot of sense, along with a 76-degree seat angle and 435mm chainstays on all four sizes. Our medium has a reach of 445mm, and it peaks at 501mm for an extra-wide.

All of the above adds up to a respectable 24.9lb/11.2kg after installing the Specialized Ground Control tires that we put on our six test bikes.

Trailforks regions where we tested

Growing up in British Columbia, I had never visited a proper trail center in Canada before and wasn’t sure what to expect from the Sentiers du Moulins trail system. The builders have done an impressive job of putting together over 60km of singletrack, much of it running through undulating rock faces lined with endless green moss. Slab City is where we spent much of our time, a mostly all granite trail that descends 200m from the back of Mont Tourbillon.

If you’re looking for berms instead of rocks, you’ll find plenty connecting countless fun-sized jumps and a few sneaky lines, all of which conveniently drop you off at the restaurant for post-ride poutine with triple the cheese combined with an energy drink icy.

Mountain bike trails Sentiers du Moulin

Escalation

It’s a cliche, I know, but the amount of travel a bike has doesn’t define how well it performs on the trail, and riding all those bikes back-to-back only underscored that fact yet again. Allied’s BC40 is a complete cross-country bike, there’s no doubt about it, but it does this job very differently from the Lapierre XRM or BMC Fourstroke LT, two others I spent a lot of time on in Quebec. Both have that traditional firm rear suspension that sometimes had me double-checking to make sure I hadn’t accidentally locked them out, when the Allies felt nearly undersprung by comparison. It wasn’t – we checked several times – and Matt and I were sitting at 25% sag; the efficiency test also proved that the BC40 is just as quick on the loose, mottled gravel road climbs some of us face to get to the goods.

This field test has already seen us spend too much time talking about this fine balance of forgiveness, traction and efficiency, but these are the most relevant talking points for these types of bikes. And the differences between Allied, BMC and Lapierre, all machines made to do the same thing, are stark. Although the stopwatch showed it wasn’t slower, there’s no doubt that the active suspension helped my cause when the roots were slimy; Mont Sainte-Anne can be a very slippery place after a summer rain, but the BC40 had the most balance when I needed to tiptoe through a rink of roots and rocks. rocks.

Where did the BC40 fall behind the others? It required more steering input and brain output whenever the switchbacks got really tight. You know when the singletrack kind of comes back at you in about two square feet? That’s when the Lapierre and BMC both have front ends that don’t need to be told what to do, while the Allied requires a bit firmer hand and, regardless of the approach, less speed. There were a handful of corners where I had to swing the front end a few inches to get back on the right line, but I was coming back into the same corner thirty minutes later on the Lapierre and still carrying more momentum and I didn’t. didn’t have to correct, and it was the same story on the BMC.

If your trails (or runs) are full of tight switchbacks with no stops and little to no elevation changes, there are better options than the Allies. It’s effective, of course, and you can specify remote lockout if you wish, but it’s riders and racers who regularly have to climb nasty, slippery technical climbs where traction actually makes a difference who will benefit the most. of the BC40.

Descending

The BC40 reminded me a bit of Specialized’s Epic EVO, one of my favorite bikes of all time, in the way it felt so composed and glued to the ground through every corner I wanted to power through. While some of the other bikes made me keep an eye out for anything that might bother them, no matter how small, the calmness of the Allies allowed me to process things further down the trail and relax more. That’s probably why there were a handful of lines I never took on board the BC40, especially after the afternoon thunderstorms that dropped more rain in thirty minutes than I expected. thought possible.

Not lacking in green rocks and shiny roots on the slope of Mont Sainte-Anne, this rain made riding difficult on some trails. The BC40 eats that stuff, though, and was easily the most stable and predictable of the bunch. So while I would take the safe low line, otherwise known as the boring line, on the other bikes, I would always default to the most committed high lines when riding wet roots allied at a 30-degree angle. It’s not close to being a trail bike by any stretch of my imagination, of course, but it’s definitely a cross-country bike that will allow some riders to attack – or just take advantage – of the descents instead of just getting to the bottom so they can attack the climb.

Not interested in downhill PR? It took me years to realize that instead of taking crazy risks trying to catch fitter riders on the downhill, I could relax a bit while recovering more and still making up time before the next climb won’t make me cramp on the ground. In other words, go the same speed but recover more and sooner, which seems like a smart race to me.

Obviously, the BC40’s greatest strength is its rear suspension which packs a lot of performance into just 120mm of travel. It manages to be efficient when you’re on the gas, supple at the top of the stroke and around the sag point, and it also has more than enough bottom support and resistance for whatever you’re doing that you should. probably ‘t do. That’s a wide window of performance and setup, especially since many bikes in this category seem to sacrifice in one or more areas for the benefit of another.

I came across one trail in particular, a bit steeper than the others and still a little soft and slick from being freshly dug into the hill, which the BC40 absolutely devoured. Fast, smooth corners faded into steeper smooth sections, and the obvious approach was always to pick up a little too much speed in everything. I had a near death experience on each of the other bikes which was probably all 100% my fault, but I rode the same trail about ten times aboard the BC40 while going at least ten percent faster and I didn’t even scream in fear once. Better yet, it’s not. feel like I was going faster, which is always a good sign.

So, who is the BC40 for? As capable and fun as I said above, it’s still a good cross-country bike that’s fully deserving of an expensive race entry fee, a license plate, and your most expensive gear combination. tight. It’s just that he also deserves baggy shorts and questionable line choices on your days off.


Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.