We first rode BMC’s Granfondo at the Swiss company's launch in Belgium early last year, when it was unveiled ahead of the spring classics, making it available to the pro team to use in preference to the racier TeamMachine - Alessandro Ballan rode the new bike to a podium finish, cementing its credentials. Now we have a 105-equipped model in the office so we can test this bike on UK roads.
What we liked about the GF01 on our limited first ride was the slightly higher front end compared to BMC's TeamMachine and the shorter reach. These geometry changes, in conjunction with the longer wheelbase, evidenced in the flared fork tips, gives the bike extra confidence and comfort to tackle rough roads - whether that means cobbles if you’re riding in Belgium or dodging the potholes of Surrey’s roads, in my case.
BMC reckon this new category of its range provides race-proven bikes that cater for the needs of their team racers yet offer enough comfort for amateur and recreational cyclists. While the pros will ride the full carbon fibre GF01, we have here the unquestionably more affordable aluminium GF01. The Shimano 105 is one of four builds they offer on this frame, rising to Ultegra Di2 and SRAM Red, depending on how far you want to stretch.
At £1,400 the GF01 makes a very good case for itself. The frames tubes are tripled butted 6000-series alloy to keep the weight down and it shares the fundamental details and styling cues with its pricier carbon brother. It carries the same tapered head tube and the seat stays are as skinny as a twig and are kinked at the top where they meet the seat tube, which is some way below the top tube junction.
There’s also the same kinked carbon fork which, along the the kinked stays, forms BMC’s tuned compliance concept (TCC). It is these sections of the frame that are claimed to help absorb hits and vibration. How this concept translates from the carbon frame to the alloy one... well, that remains to be seen. Aluminium is traditionally seen as a stiffer and harsher material than good carbon, so we'll be looking to see how that impacts on the ride quality.
A full and uninterrupted Shimano 105 groupset is a good thing to see, including the compact (50/34-tooth) chainset. From a function standpoint it’s very nearly indistinguishable from Ultegra and Dura-Ace, it’s just a little heavier. The all-up weight of this test bike is 8.7kg (19.1lbs), so it’s not doing badly at all.
Shimano also supply the R-501 wheels and they’re shod with Continental Ultra Sport 28mm tyres. BMC have a close relationship with US componentry manufacturer Easton and so there’s an EA30 aluminum handlebar and EA70 stem. The seatpost is BMC’s own compliance post, so that should eliminate some of the vibrations before they reach your undercarriage. The saddle is a Selle Royal Saba.
The GF02 is available in six sizes, with the pictured bike being a 58cm mode. Let’s give you some vital stats on the geometry and see how it stacks up. Starting with the head tube, well, that’s 19.5cm, which isn’t excessively tall for a bike of this type (if it's easier to get your head around 56cm frame size, that has a 17.6cm head tube). Staying with the 58 we have, the stack is 559mm and the reach 395mm, the head angle is 72.5° and the seat angle 73.5°. The effective top tube is 57.2cm, so you can see it’s a little shorter than a race bike, and a smidgen higher at the front. It’s not as excessive as some bikes in the endurance/sportive category we’ve seen over the years, though.
What are we to compare this too? The recently tested Bianchi Infinito springs to mind, another bike that is designed to be able to be raced as well as cruised on the Sunday club run. Both bikes shun the excessively tall head tubes that mark out bikes as sportive focused. The Specialized Roubaix is another, of course - the benchmark in this category, primarily because it’s the bike that kicked it off. And Trek’s Domane, with a more complex solution to taming road bumps, also comes into view. The Domane we have on test at the moment is actually a good comparison. It's £200 cheaper than the GF02 and has most of a 105 groupset (a few key components like the cranks have been downgraded), but it's 500g heavier.
The best way to find out is clearly to get the miles in, and one of the road.cc test team is doing the honours right.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.