Review: BMC GranFondo GF01 (Raindrops keep falling on my head)

By | October 4, 2013

This year I have been participating in Saturday Morning group rides starting at Tacoma Bike.  It is a bit of a drive for me, but riding alone all the time can get boring.  As luck would have it, last week’s ride coincided with a BMC demo day.  Sadly the weather report forecast heavy rains, wind and flooding.  I HATE riding in the rain, but riding the latest, greatest cycling technology from BMC was an opportunity not to be missed.  I have heard great things about their bikes and they run a good lumber yard!  There was no way I was going to miss this.

I arrived at Tacoma Bike 1/2 hour before our scheduled departure time.  The rain was also there as predicted.  Luckily it was not cold.  Since the Demo bikes were not equipped with fenders, I would not be participating in the group ride.  This actually worked out for the best.  Instead of riding a single bike, I got to ride three bikes worth a total of $25,000!!!  Plus I got to take these machines anywhere I wanted!

The BMC GranFondo GF01.  A nice looking ride, but
I am growing tired of the gray carbon look.  How about
more color!

The first bike was a BMC GranFondo GF01.  This is the top of the line ‘comfort bike’.  ‘Comfort bike’ sounds like such an insult.  According to the BMC Representative, this bike was developed for the spring classics.  These races feature brutally rough conditions including rain, mud and cobblestones, lots of cobblestones.  The Gran Fondo line is designed to be stiff laterally, yet compliant vertically.  This means that the frame will not twist under hard acceleration and yet absorb the surface irregularities of the road.

My test ride was equipped with the following components:

  • Size: 58 cm
  • Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra Di2
  • Cranks: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheels: Easton
  • Seat: Fizik
  • Bar: Easton, carbon
  • Stem: Easton
The most striking BMC feature is the top tube/seat tube
connection.

I rode the GF01 from the shop along mostly flat roads for about 10 miles.  As mentioned previously, the weather was wet, it was difficult to get a sense of the brakes and cornering.  My impressions of the bike are as follows:

Positives!

The bike’s geometry was very accommodating.  I am usually one to ride on the hoods or top of the bar.  I know it is not the best aero position and I fight to ride the drops, but it is difficult.  With the GF01, I felt very comfortable in the drops.  With the right seat, I could picture myself spending the majority of my time in the drops.  I even felt stable standing and accelerating from that position, which I never do.  Speaking of acceleration, the bike spins up to speed quite nicely.  Accelerations are quick and climbing was good, but harder efforts are required to get a better feel.  The most impressive thing about the GF01 was when I rolled over chip seal.  If you test ride this bike, you have to hit some chip seal.  It is impressive how much of the harshness is absorbed with the frame geometry and impressive carbon lay-up.  This bike would be great on the rough sections of RAGBRAI, RSVP, STP or RAMROD.  The ride quality would clearly make a long day in the saddle much easier.

Negatives…

Shimano’s Ultegra Di2.  Not for everyone.

This is the first time I have ridden Shimano’s Di2 system.  I did not enjoy it.  I felt that the part of my connection with the bike had been stripped away.  Shifting the Di2 is like pushing a mouse button and back behind you something would happen.  The shifting is very quick and a lot of people really like it.  The BMC representative claims it is simpler easier to tune and lasts longer.  Considering the fact that my bike has had the same shifters and derailleurs for 10 seasons, longevity with the old system was really not an issue.  Further adding to my troubles with Di2, the rain forced me to wear thick gloves which made feeling the shifter buttons difficult.  The rain also made the brakes difficult to judge.  I did notice that there was considerable chatter under hard braking.  A change of brake pads would likely solve that wet weather issue.  I also noticed under hard acceleration, the rims did touch the brake pads, but this was barely noticeable.  The GF01 was very compliant to road surface irregularities, but that compliance can also isolate you from the road.

The GF01 if a sweet ride.  It is quick and very comfortable.  That comfort can come with the price of isolating one from the road.  I would love to ride this bike again and would very much consider owning one without the DI2.

Stay tuned for two more BMC reviews!

My other Bike reviews are:
2014 Giant TCR Advanced SL-2 
Connandale Synapse

CYCLEBUTTCRACK are your purveyors of CHEEKY cycling gear.  Head to CYCLEBUTTCRACK.com for funny cycling jerseys, The BEER cycling Jersey and T-shirts!

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