The 2013 BMC GranFondo GF01.
The 2012 Sea Otter Classic begins in only a few short days, and BMC decided to kick things off a little early by unveiling their newest road bike to the North American market: the 2013 GranFondo GF01
. The curtain was pulled back at the Hyatt Regency
resort in Monterey, California, with media attendees being treated to an information session about the new bike, as well as a demo ride along the gorgeous shores of this seaside town. How does the new BMC ride? First, a brief history.
Alessandro Ballan rode the GranFondo GF01 to a third-place finish at the 2012 Paris-Roubaix. (Photo: Bettini)
EIGHTEEN MONTHS OF DEVELOPMENT
BMC has been tinkering with the idea of a more comfort-oriented road bike for quite some time. What started life on the grease boards at BMC headquarters as the "Classics Project" 18 months ago has resulted in a podium finish for the new bike at the biggest one-day Classic of them all, Paris-Roubaix. Select members of BMC's pro team received their initial prototypes back in November 2011, with former world champion Alessandro Ballan being among them. He rode his GranFondo to a third-place finish at Roubaix, while each of his teammates also opted to ride the GF instead of the team's go-to ride, the TeamMachine SLR01.
TCC AND ANGLE COMPLIANCE
So what makes the GranFondo different from the TeamMachine? The answer is compliance. There's simply a lot more of it. While previous BMC road bikes have included the brand's Tuned Compliance Concept (TCC) technology (which is basically their unique combination of carbon layups and tube shapes), the project's lead engineer, Jonas Muller, says that it's now been taken a step further: "The GF01 is a new bike series from BMC, and we think of it as the 'Gran Turismo' of cycling. The term 'Gran Turismo' usually refers to automobiles that are full-on race cars, but are comfortable enough to be driven long distances. This bike is a race bike, but it's for those who want to enjoy long rides without suffering. We developed TCC one step further and added Angle Compliance Technology. Bicycle frames always consist of triangles with straight elements. We decided to include a bend element to introduce more compliance." The "bend element" is clearly visible on the fork dropouts.
BMC's Angle Compliance is also prevalent on the rear dropouts. The straight chainstays give way to a dramatic "kink" that bends upward at a forty-five degree angle.
The GranFondo's seatstays aren't of the round, pencil-thin varety found on some other race bikes, but they are incredibly flat. Like the fork and rear dropouts, the seatstays include a distinct bend, located right at the rear brake mounting point.
Here's a direct side shot of the seatstays where they meet the seat tube. The Angle Compliance bend is clearly visible and is designed to add exceptional vertical compliance and damping characteristics to the rear triangle. Note the "UCI Legal" frame decal.
Many bike manufacturers have been utilizing a 27.2mm-diameter seatpost to help produce a better ride quality. BMC produces their own version, complete with TCC and Angle Compliance technology. Stock bikes will come standard with a seatpost featuring 18mm of setback, but customers can opt for one of two other versions: 3mm or 30mm of setback. Each post has its own carbon layup properties to maintain a consistent ride quality should one decide to try a different setback.
CORE STIFFNESS PHILOSOPHY
Most of the hype surrounding the GranFondo is all about its comfort and compliance characteristics, especially considering that it's 40% more vertically compliant than the TeamMachine SLR01. But one of the biggest revelations at the press launch was that the GranFondo is, overall, 30% stiffer than the TeamMachine! This is the result of new carbon layups and something BMC calls "core stiffness philosophy," which entails utilizing a large downtube, headtube and chainstays to create a laterally and torsionally stiff foundation. The chainstays, in particular, are quite tall and boxy. They've also been designated the task of holding the Ultegra Di2 battery.
Like the chainstays, the massive bottom bracket shell is a result of "core stiffness philosophy." The GranFondo runs with a BB86 press fit bottom bracket, and also includes an integrated chaincatcher.
Here's a closeup of the chaincatcher. It's mounted onto the bottom bracket shell, and can accommodate chainrings of the compact, standard and even triple variety.
ONLY ONE BUILD
Another innovative acronym from BMC is DTi, or "Dual Transmission integration." The GranFondo comes standard with a Shimano Ultegra Di2 electronic drivetrain and features internally-routed wiring. But for those who wish to swap out the electronics in favor of a mechanical setup, the GranFondo frame comes with easily-removable cable stops and other mounts. Our demo bikes weren't outfitted with these yet, so that's why you see a swath of electrical tape covering holes on the downtube. The headtube sports a 1 1/8- to 1 1/2-inch tapered steerer. My size 51cm demo model had a relatively tall 140mm headtube.
The GranFondo GF01 will be available at BMC dealers around late May or Early June, and only one build option is available (and it won't be available as a frameset either). Retail price is $6599, and for that you'll get a Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, Ultegra cranks with compact gearing, Ultegra brakes, a Fizik Aliante saddle, a set of Easton EA90RT tubeless-ready wheels wrapped in Continental GP 4-Season tires in size 28c and an Easton EA70 stem and handlebar combination. (Pedals not included.)
- One build option for $6599
- No frameset availability
- Designed for comfort and Paris-Roubaix
- 40% more compliant and 30% stiffer than the TeamMachine
The GranFondo is stiff and perfectly suited to get you up close and personal with the follow car.
(Photo: Brian Hodes/VeloImages
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION
So, how's the ride quality? In a word, fantastic. I rode the 2012 BMC TeamMachine
along the same roads in Monterey a few months back, and I came away thoroughly impressed with that bike's stiffness and handling... even if a bit more compliance would have been welcome. So, I had high hopes for the GranFondo in the comfort department, and it did not disappoint. Along Monterey's smooth coastal roads, the GF01 had no trouble putting down the power and was stiff enough to help me put in a flyer off the front on more than one occasion. But as the roads began to deteriorate, the bike truly came alive. Over cracks, potholes and other road imperfections, the rear triangle did its job and deflected all but the biggest of hits. Some short, punchy climbs were thrown into the ride and they helped show that the bike's front-end stiffness is also good, although I would still prefer the TeamMachine for quick uphill attacks. The GranFondo is also a capable descender and, overall, it's a great bike that would suit anyone looking for a comfy ride without giving up much in the way of performance. Be sure to look for a full test of the GranFondo GF01 in the July issue of Road Bike Action
Want to see what BMC's pro team thinks of the all-new GranFondo GF01? Check out the video below: