Swiss company BMC launched the GranFondo way back in 2012, a bike designed to tackle the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix when piloted by its own professional cycle team, but also to be a comfortable long distance ride for amateur cyclists, without compromising on performance.
With disc brakes sweeping like wildfire through the road cycling industry, it’s endurance bikes like the GranFondo that are first in line to get the disc brake makeover. Discs on bikes like this appeal to cyclists less interested in absolute peak power and aerodynamics, and more about comfort and control over long distances and through varied conditions.
And bikes designed for the cobbled classics like the aforementioned Paris-Roubaix make ideal road bikes for non-racing cyclists wanting a bike that can handle typical British roads and be dependable through all sorts of weather. There's also the clearance for wider tyres, much wider than you can get in most race bikes, and disc brakes have really allowed these new bikes to accommodate bigger tyres.
Fro sure £2,499 is a big outlay but you do get a well kitted out bike for the money. It comes equipped with a Shimano 105 mechanical groupset, with a compact 50/34t chainset and 11-32t cassette, and, best of all, Shimano’s RS685 hydraulic disc brakes. These are combined with 140mm disc rotors, the size that Shimano recommends for most applications.
This marriage of mechanical gear shifters to hydraulic disc brakes is probably the jewel in Shimano's current range, offering great performance at a more affordable price than an electronic version. Ideal for people not bothered about electronic gears. And no batteries to worry about charging either.
And we reckon the latest Shimano 105 11-speed mechanical groupset is the Japanese company’s best yet. Trickle down technology from Dura-Ace means really precise and quiet gear shifts, and the hydraulic disc brakes are amongst the best currently available (not that there are many hydraulic road disc brake options at present).
You get Shimano RX31 disc-compatible wheels with 25mm wide Continental Ultra Sport 2 tyres, but the frame can easily accommodate wider tyres if you wanted to boost the comfort factor. It's a shame really BMC hasn't specced wider tyres. We’re starting to see some rival companies spec 28 and even 30mm tyres on similar endurance bikes. Still, 25mm is a good starting point and will certainly provide more smoothness than a racier 23mm tyre. We'll soon see what the full review has to say about the tyre width.
Completing the build is a carbon fibre seatpost, with 18mm offset, and BMC RDB 3 handlebars, RST 3 stem and a Fizik Aliante R7 saddle with manganese rails.
As the GranFondo is intended to provide a comfortable ride, you’d expect some sort of comfort-boosting feature hidden somewhere in the frame. And you’d be right. BMC has taken a two-pronged approach to providing comfort, with Tuned Compliance Concept (TCC), a combination of carbon layup and tube shapes; and Angle Compliance Technology (ACT), which is the kinks you can see in the chainstays, seatstays and fork legs. Both measures are intended to provide a bit of give when the wheels encounter a bump or hole.
The geometry also differs from the racier TeamMachine. Basically it’s a bit short and higher. That makes it ideally suited for long distance riders seeking comfort and performance, but also new riders who want the performance of a race bike but also want a bike that is easy to handle, with good stability to deal with a variety of road surfaces.
The changes amount to a taller head tube, short top tube, longer wheelbase and more fork rake. There’s no shortage of stiffness if you’re after performance though with a press-fit bottom bracket, tapered head tube and enormous down tube ensuring that there should be oodles of lateral stiffness.
The GF01 Disc is currently doing the miles around Bath and the wider area, so watch out for a full review soon, to see if the BMC can cut it with some of the younger rivals in this hotly contested bike category.
BMC bikes are available exclusively through Evans Cycles.
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.