BMC doesn't do anything halfway. If they make an endurance road bike, they make one that is so well designed, the aluminum version rides better than other company's carbon frames. If they make a 29er, they make one that handles better than most 26ers, but with all the big-wheel benefits. And if they're going to make a gravel bike, shoot; they make the best one you're ever going to stub your toe on.
I've been aboard this bike for a little over a week now, and in that time I've put this GF02 Disc through the paces. Long rides, short rides, big climbs, gravel races, and everything you can think of, this bike has tackled everything.
On the scale, it's a modest 23 pounds with pedals and cages. This Ultegra version is about a half a pound lighter than the 105 edition of the same bike, mostly do to the inclusion of the DT Swiss Spline wheels. They're a great, hearty build that have already held up to some tardily-spotted potholes, and still feel as snappy as a regular old road wheel, even dressed with a 35mm Continental Cyclocross Speed tire.
The new 11-speed Ultegra is a great fit for this kind of bike, especially with that nice big 32 ring on the cassette. It comes with a 50-34 compact up front, so it gives a great range. No problems keeping up on the road, even on some descents that sniffed 50mph, but still a big range in the back to find a good, quick spinning gear going through the deep and soggy mud.
The first big test was a three-hour, fifty-mile, 3,000 feet of climbing in Leelanau County. The longest ride in over six months, it was perfect. Great gearing, even trying to keep up two road bikers, and the ride quality is unmatched. Taller head tube, great rear triangle and a snappy feel makes the first hour and a half just as fresh as the first.
It was enough to give me a bit of confidence heading into the Lowell 50, a 57 mile gravel road race. It was the talk of the town on the start line, and the end of the field as the race hit the final 15 miles. It made my mistakes a lot less damning; the bumps and shutters of pot holes, washed out roads and deep pockets of sand. The whole theory behind the bike is to keep the ride fresh over big miles and rough conditions. Mission accomplished. Roll out the banner and fire up the aircraft carrier.
Again, the gearing was really perfect. A lot of people looking at more dedicated "gravel" bikes and cyclocross bikes aren't sure what crankset to go with. Most will come with a 46/36, a standard cyclocross set-up. The benefits are best as a trail bike, a true cyclocross racer, and in really muddy conditions. The 50/34 is the better option if you can push a big gear on the climbs, or if you simply plan on a heavy diet of pavement with your bike.
We'll have reviews from Eric's Salsa Warbird Ti, as well as a special build of that bike with ZIPP everything in the next few days!