Updated - BMC Gran Fondo GF01 launch: Sure handling, comfort, & bump-munching compliance in a 7.3kg performance package

Hitting the Paris-Roubaix pave this Sunday and a sportive near you soon after

by   April 7, 2012  

BMC today launched their new Gran Fondo GF01 top end road bike, a performance machine designed with long distance comfort in mind... but you probably guessed that from the name.

The GF01 comes with a frame geometry that's designed for comfort, following the shorter and taller route that many other manufacturers have gone down over the past few years. But as well as that, BMC have taken their tuned compliance concept (TCC) further than before by introducing what they're calling angle compliance technology (ACT). Essentially, they've added kinks to the chainstays, the seatstays and to the fork legs to absorb hits and vibration. They're also altered the seat post design to do a similar job.

A quick glance at the spec sheet and the GF01 certainly promises much. A 54cm bike built up with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and Easton EA90 wheels weighs in at a claimed all up weight of 7.38kg (16.2lb) with comfort most noticeably being taken care of by a taller head tube ranging in size from 125mm to 220mm and a stack height  range of 525-622mm on the six sizes available.

For comparison, BMC's out-and-out road race bike, the SLR01, has figures of 113-213mm for the head tube and 506-608 for the stack height. The other thing that immediately jumps out is that that those Easton wheels have 28mm tyres which should instantly add to the plushness. I'll find out soon enough cos we'll be riding the GF01 straight after today's launch presentation. We'll be posting our first ride review shortly.

To further emphasise the GF01's performance credentials, BMC stress the amount of input they've had in its development. Indeed, the press handout says the bike was, "Designed for the big, powerful BMC team riders who race on the battering cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix".

As luck would have it, Paris-Roubaix is on this very Sunday and you can expect to see big, powerful Thor Hushovd and Allesandro Ballan doing their best to win on the GF01. Hushovd in particular is targeting this year's edition of the race. As with the Trek Domane last week, BMC are saying that their new bump muncher is both the stiffest and the most comfortable bike in their range.

History tells us - and BMC too, obviously - that bikes that do well for the pros on the pavé are also good for the rest of us when it comes to riding long distances, especially if that also involves doing so over crappy roads. So, as well as the pros, BMC are targeting this bike at:

Long distance riders looking for performance and comfort, but who aren't necessarily racing… sportive riders, then.

New riders who want to jump in with a top end performance machine but also want something that's easy to handle, stable and dependable, and who don't want a riding position that's too aggressive. New riders with a few quid to spare, obviously.

BMC also hope the bikes combination of stable handling, comfort and an upright position will appeal to women and existing BMC riders looking for an alternative choice.

So light weight, bigger tyres, and a taller head tube... but what else is on offer to make your fast ride more comfortable?

Well, in terms of geometry it's not just the head tube that's got longer, the chainstays are a centimetre longer (412mm) than on the SLR01 for a more stable, planted ride. We're guessing this will also add in a bit more back end compliance. The head tube angle has been slackened too and there's plenty of fork rake up front. BMC dub this their endurance geometry and it's a pretty standard approach on all sportive machines and on tourers.

Compliance equals comfort and the GF01 should not be wanting in that department according to BMC - they've taken their tuned compliance concept (TCC) - which involves using the best combination of materials, tube shapes, and layup to maximise compliance in the required plane without sacrificing strength. It's a logical approach and one that BMC went big with on the SLR01, the bike they say sets the benchmark for vertical compliance in a race machine.

The challenge with the Gran Fondo was to increase this still further without compromising important stuff like braking and your pedalling action. To solve this problem, BMC have introduced Angle Compliance Technology (ACT). Basically ,they put a kink in the chainstay around the dropout to allow it to bend vertically while still keeping things torsionally and laterally stiff. BMC, though, have also applied angle compliance technology to the fork allowing for more "constant impact absorption', to the top of the chainstays and to the seatpost. That seatpost is long and thin (27.2mm diameter) and has a specific carbon layup to maximise compliance.

The GF01's seatpost will come with a 18mm setback as standard although 3mm and 30mm versions will be available too. The carbon layup is different in the different versions so that you get the same ride characteristics regardless of the option you fit.

So after comfort, performance and easy handling, the final part of the GF01 jigsaw is ease of use. The drivetrain is Shimano Ultegra Di2 and electronic shifting doesn't really get more hassle-free than that. Aside from the occasional recharge, it more or less takes care of itself.

The gearing set up is a 50-34 compact chainset pulling an 11-28 cassette - which should get up and over most things. The rest of the component spec majors on comfort and durability with Easton EA70 bars and stem and a plush Fizik Aliante saddle.

P*nctures are a bad thing, and to combat them while retaining performance - and doing away with the need to swap between winter and summer tyres - BMC have specced 28mm Continental Four Seasons as standard. Nice choice.

One other thing that's worth mentioning is that the GF01 comes with an integrated chain catcher. We're told that results from a request made by the team. The vast majority of pro riders seem to be using chain catchers these days, especially over the cobbles where all that bouncing makes it much easier to drop the chain.

Oh, and just one more point... this bike comes with DTi. Do what? DTi stands for Dual Transmission Integration and it means that you get easily removable/addable external cablestops that allow you to switch between mechanical and electronic groupsets. 

That'll do for the moment. Mat is out riding the BMC GF01 over some of the cobbled sections of the Tour of Flanders so we'll have more on the bike shortly.

16 user comments

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Must say I like the look tbh. Any idea of cost?

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
5th April 2012 - 12:19

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An award should go to the bike manufacturer's marketing department who first realised they could use the Classics to sell a comfortable bike without having to use comfort as a selling point. "Designed for the toughest race in the world" etc so they don't have to say "it won't hurt your back on the club run, Grandad".

Nothing at all against the idea of a comfortable bike of course - just noticed it as a theme...

posted by msw [125 posts]
5th April 2012 - 12:52

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8 uses of 'compliance' in one article - Some kind of a record? It's even got compliance stickered all over the frame.

re: the tyres, I'd be really interested to see if there was a scientific way to measure the difference in rolling resistance of 23 - 25 and 28c tyres. I've used 28s and 25s on my current bike and I can't tell a speed difference but the 28s feel smoother over the potholes.

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posted by joemmo [779 posts]
5th April 2012 - 13:06

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No idea on cost as yet Super Domestique, but we're asking and will update as soon as we know.

Yes, everyone wants to go to Belgium this year… although as someone pointed out yesterday on the Domane story Audi test their cars on British roads - deeming them to be the toughest conditions their vehicles will have to deal with.

So maybe Blighty next time round Thinking

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
5th April 2012 - 13:08

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I wish there were more bikes like this around. I am a long-leg-short-body type, so 'comfort' geometry is standard for me.

But that aside, there must be a lot of people that do the kind of riding I do - most rides between 40 and 80 miles, with the occasional 'big one' above that. People that like to ride hard, so need something fast and responsive, but don't want to feel every last bump and ripple in the road.

This kind of bike shouldn't be the 'niche' - it should be that standard. It's the fast heads-down speed machines that should be the specialist option, for the smaller proportion of road riders that race.

Though I guess those are sexier and easier to sell...Wink

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posted by andyspaceman [214 posts]
5th April 2012 - 13:47

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"28mm Continental Four Seasons" tyres actually measure 25 mm.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1333 posts]
5th April 2012 - 14:00

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cat1commuter wrote:
"28mm Continental Four Seasons" tyres actually measure 25 mm.

Depends on the rims you mount them on. Mine measure closer to 27mm. In any event, they are quite 'tall', so even though they look narrow, they give quite a lot of cushion for the actual width.

posted by step-hent [654 posts]
5th April 2012 - 14:25

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step-hent wrote:
cat1commuter wrote:
"28mm Continental Four Seasons" tyres actually measure 25 mm.

Depends on the rims you mount them on. Mine measure closer to 27mm. In any event, they are quite 'tall', so even though they look narrow, they give quite a lot of cushion for the actual width.

Yes, they are great tyres none-the-less.

Mine are on Mavic Open Pro (which are a fairly standard 622 x 15 ETRTO "racing" rim), and are exactly 25 mm.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1333 posts]
5th April 2012 - 14:50

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cat1commuter wrote:
step-hent wrote:
cat1commuter wrote:
"28mm Continental Four Seasons" tyres actually measure 25 mm.

Depends on the rims you mount them on. Mine measure closer to 27mm. In any event, they are quite 'tall', so even though they look narrow, they give quite a lot of cushion for the actual width.

Yes, they are great tyres none-the-less.

Mine are on Mavic Open Pro (which are a fairly standard 622 x 15 ETRTO "racing" rim), and are exactly 25 mm.

Interestingly, mine measure 26mm on an Open Pro rim, and 27mm on some wider rims (Dura Ace C24). Must be some variation between batches I guess.

posted by step-hent [654 posts]
5th April 2012 - 15:04

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andyspaceman wrote:
I wish there were more bikes like this around. I am a long-leg-short-body type, so 'comfort' geometry is standard for me.

I'm the opposite - short legs and a long body - but I like them too. I guess you mean that with "racier" geometry you find a bike that fits your leg length and the reach is too long... right? I have to start at the other end - find something where the reach is right and then try to get the saddle low enough that I can actually reach the pedals... sloping top tubes changed my life!

posted by msw [125 posts]
5th April 2012 - 15:55

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Yeah, I’m typically needing the head tube of a 58 and the top tube of a 54. Slacker seat angles help, toe-overlap is generally just a fact of life, and I have been known to knock my knees on my handlebars when getting out of the saddle.

I can slide the seat forward to help reduce the reach issues, which puts me in a powerful position for short sprinty stuff, but that’s not the kind of riding I need to be doing at the moment (currently training for a 6-day ride down the Route des Grandes Alpes in September).

Bianchi’s Infinito is the only bike I’ve tried that will fit me out of the box (i.e. without changing any components). Condor’s Baracchi RL looks good on paper, and I wish I could afford a Cyfac Gothica RS. I’ve yet to check out the geometry on this BMC, but the Trek Domane looks like it might be worth a look.

I envy you short-leg-long-body types – you get the pick of all the sexy low-down aero machines…

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posted by andyspaceman [214 posts]
5th April 2012 - 16:25

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andyspaceman wrote:
I envy you short-leg-long-body types – you get the pick of all the sexy low-down aero machines…

Yes, we feel great on those as our knees hit our elbows and *cough* stomachs with every pedal stroke. Grass is always greener eh?

posted by msw [125 posts]
5th April 2012 - 16:39

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I guess we should all be grateful for what we've been given Smile

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posted by andyspaceman [214 posts]
5th April 2012 - 17:07

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tony_farrelly wrote:
Yes, everyone wants to go to Belgium this year… although as someone pointed out yesterday on the Domane story Audi test their cars on British roads - deeming them to be the toughest conditions their vehicles will have to deal with.

Although of course car makers have to ensure compliance Big Grin with the industry rule that Every Single Car Advert Must Be Shot In Barcelona.

Weirdly, the absolute worst road for surfacing round my way (cost me two punctures on its very bumpy surface on a ride last week) is the one that passes Clarkson's house and a little later turns off to Cameron's village Thinking

Finally, is it just me or is that triangle thingy between the seat post and the top tube getting smaller? Something to do with global warming? Cool

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7940 posts]
5th April 2012 - 17:31

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Plain uggers, looks like it was designed by an 80's supercar manufacturer Sick

posted by 37monkey [143 posts]
5th April 2012 - 21:01

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It's just me or the integrated chain catcher on this bike is just plain ugly?

posted by Rippel [1 posts]
6th April 2012 - 1:22

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