After a full day at Outdoor Demo, assessing what’s new in the road world, there’s one thing that stands out: the aero-road craze isn’t just a fad, it’s here to stay. The two most notable entries into the aero-road segment are BMC with the TMR01 and BH’s G6. We’ve already seen the TMR01 used by select riders of BMC during this year's Tour; but for the G6, Interbike was the first chance to see what the newest BH had to offer. I took the opportunity to ride the G6 on the Industry Ride, which descended from the Outdoor Demo down to Lake Mead and then tackled short rollers before a turn around, taking us back the way we came. It was ideal terrain to get a first feel for a bike that has aero features, especially since the average speed for the 22-mile ride was well over 20mph.
With electronic groups becoming such a popular option, BH made the G6 with replaceable cable stops that allow one frame to work with both electronic and mechanical routing.
The G6 is a completely new bike in the BH line, but it has many similarities to the G5, which will not be back in production. The frame shaping doesn’t look nearly as extreme as say the Cervelo S5, but according to BH’s Chris Cocalis, aerodynamics wasn’t the only focus. “Most of the aero-road bikes ride like a jack hammer; we wanted to make a fast bike that still retained a good ride quality.”
Relatively slim seatstays help the G6 avoid the jack hammer effect on the rider.
To achieve the ride qualities that Cocalis spoke of, the G6 uses seatstays that are much more minimalist than any of the aero-road frames we’ve come across. The slender stays are key to the frame's focus, aerodymanics that don’t hurt (literally). Like BH’s Ultralight frame, the G6 uses the BB386EVO bottom bracket standard that was co-developed with FSA. The 86mm wide shell uses a 30mm spindle which gives the chainstays, seat tube and down tube ample surface area at the bottom bracket to allow the massive shapes needed to provide lateral stiffness along with the aero profile. While it’s said that aerodynamics trumps weight; this is often true until the speed drops below the 15mph mark, but the G6 doesn’t come with a huge weight penalty in order to gain an aero advantage. In fact, it could be the lightest aero-road frame yet with a claimed weight of 815 grams out of the mold, putting it at sub-900 grams after paint for a 54cm, while the fork comes in at 330 grams. The G6 will be sold as a frameset for $3299, or as a module (frame, fork, crank). Complete bikes will be available with SRAM and Shimano builds, in addition to Reynolds and Zipp wheel options.
Our G6 had an Ultegra electronic group with Reynolds 46mm deep carbon clincher wheels, but BH has a number of build options available.
The Tuesday morning Industry Ride is known as the hammer fest of the week; it's the golden opportunity for a race-like equipment test. With approximately 200 riders and a six-mile downhill start to the ride, it's easy to get an immediate sense of a bike's handling and agility. Five minutes into the ride I was going 40mph, navigating around riders that didn’t have the confidence to descend at those speeds in the pack. The G6 felt stable, even when an occasional diversion around another rider was necessary. Once we hit the perimeter road around Lake Mead the pack went single file as we sprinted over the rolling desert terrain. When jumping out of the saddle to hold my speed over the top of the climbs the G6 had plenty of snap, helping me easily stay towards the front of the group. Bottom bracket stiffness seemed to be better than most aero-road bikes I’ve ridden, but maybe not at the same level as BH’s all-rounder the Ultralight.
Once we started the long climb back up from the lake, I was appreciative of the G6’s low weight. Aerodynamics weren’t as much of an advantage as minimal mass was; and as the pace ratcheted up, riders and their test bikes went out the back in droves. As the top of the climb and finish to the ride approached I decided to see what the G6 had, or better yet what I had left. I took off with a mile left of the climb and got as aero as possible as the speed went up, looking for every advantage possible. Each revolution of the pedals the gap lengthened to the chasing riders behind. By the time the top of the climb came, it was clear the G6 had passed the test with flying colors.
We’ve already put in our order for one of the first G6s available for a long-term test so we can quantify its aero advantage on our own home roads we’re used to riding on.