The BMC URS LT is a carbon gravel bike that utilises the brand’s integrated MTT (micro travel technology) suspension system at the rear along with a new matching 20mm travel fork at the front to provide a luxuriously pliant yet efficient ride that is a hoot to ride on gnarly trails.
Though not quite perfect, this top-spec build leaves little to be desired and is a great companion for both long days out and short thrashes around the local woods.
BMC URS LT One spec details
At first glance, the back end looks standard for a modern gravel bike: robust chainstays mated to low-slung dropped seatstays.
Look closer, though, and you’ll notice something in the seatstays just back from where they join the seat tube. It’s an elastomer with twin-alloy shafts inside, which provides a smoothing 10mm of travel.
At the front, it’s a similar story, with 20mm of tunable suspension hidden in the head tube.
The MTT fork was designed in conjunction with HiRide (the company that helped design Pinarello’s Roubaix specialist Dogma FS bike).
The suspension system is comprised of a coil spring and hydraulic damper with a dial control sitting on top of the head tube to tune the travel. You can lock it out when you’re riding smooth roads if you prefer.
The system has more than a passing similarity – visually and mechanically – to Cannondale’s classic HeadShok system.
BMC URS LT One geometry
The BMC’s geometry is similarly forward-thinking. The front end has a slack 70-degree head angle to give the bike a longer wheelbase and a more stable feel over rough surfaces.
This is then combined with a short 70, 80 or 90mm stem, depending on size. My XL test bike comes with a 90mm stem.
Add to this the wider bars associated with gravel bikes and BMC has got the steering responses of the new URS dialled.
It tracks straight and stays true and straight when you brake, yet enables you to navigate more technical stuff nimbly should you wander into singletrack mountain-biking territory.
At the back, it’s a radical difference: a steep 74-degree seat angle and zero-offset seatpost put you right over the cranks, which makes the URS LT feel road-race-bike responsive when accelerating.
Also, the soft-tail rear end doesn’t slacken the angle overtly, so the URS LT never feels as though it’s bobbing in that old-school, rear-suspension style.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74||74||74||74|
|Head angle (degrees)||70||70||70||70|
|Rear center (mm)||425||425||425||425|
|Seat tube (mm)||431||459||492||527|
|Top tube (mm)||557||578||591||612|
|Head tube (mm)||113||146||172||207|
|Fork offset (mm)||45||45||45||45|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||69||69||69||69|
|Fork length (mm)||407||407||407||407|
|Crank length (mm)||170||172.5||172.5||175|
|Stem length (mm)||70||70||80||90|
BMC URS LT One ride impressions
BMC hasn’t just relied on the bike’s suspension to dial in the ride, it also extends its (sorry, more acronyms) TCC (tuned compliance concept) technology to the carbon. This, BMC claims, builds compliance into key areas of the frame. This extends to the brand’s signature D-shaped carbon seatpost.
All this gives it a superb ride quality. I wasn’t sure what to expect from what sounds like a very small number: 10mm of ‘suspension’ at the rear is less than a tenth of what most modern mountain bikes have, for instance.
Though to think of the URS LT as a ‘suspension bike’ like Tom Pidcock’s Olympic cross-country gold ride (an unbranded BMC Fourstroke) is missing this bike’s aims.
It’s designed as a fast gravel bike that brings comfort and vibration reduction into play – it’s not about squashing big drops or tackling boulder-strewn descents.
The URS LT really does have a wonderfully compliant feel, especially on teeth-rattling, bone-shaking byways and rutted fire roads.
Like Cannondale’s Topstone Lefty and a RockShox Ruby Ultimate gravel suspension-fork-equipped Canyon I’ve been riding recently, the BMC gives a ride akin to running super wide (for gravel) 2.5in-plus tyres.
You really do get a plush, smoothing effect of big balloon tyres, but without the sluggishness or added weight.
In fact, the BMC is running relatively slender 40mm WTB Raddler tyres on its own tubeless-ready carbon wheels (CRD-400), which gives it a light and lively feel as well as being very capable and versatile.
At 9.87kg, the BMC really is also respectably light for a gravel bike.
It’s not a stripped-down flyweight like the Giant Revolt Advanced 0 that I tested recently (8.33kg), but the MTT system does make the URS LT a more forgiving friend when the going gets rough.
The drivetrain is a mash-up between SRAM’s mountain and gravel components. Force AXS shifters and brakes, along with a 38-tooth single-ring Force carbon chainset, are matched to a 12-speed X01 Eagle rear derailleur and super-wide-range 10-52t cassette.
It all works rather well together with slick, accurate gear shifts and powerful, full-feeling brakes.
The big cassette, however, does get quite vocal. Ping the chain down from the higher ends of the range towards the mid-range gears at the top of a climb and you’re met with a metallic ping as that sandwich-plate-sized, 52-tooth ring resonates after being released from its chain-tensioned state.
It doesn’t affect performance though, and I’d imagine later editions of this bike will adopt SRAM’s more gravel-specific XPLR gearing for a more concise gear range and less weight.
The WTB SL8 saddle is a quality item with its classy titanium rails, but I didn’t find it especially comfortable.
The heel of the saddle is compliant and well-shaped, but it gets slender towards the nose and felt overly firm.
The Easton EA70AX bar has a more subtle flare than most gravel bars and is well-shaped: the oversized diameter of the top section is comfortable to hold and it’s wrapped in quality tape too. At this price, however, I’d expect a carbon bar.
BMC URS LT One bottom line
Overall, the URS LT One is a seriously good gravel machine. It slickly pulls off being a responsive, racy-feeling bike with a plush, smooth ride and quality fittings.
It’s a bike I’ve been more than happy taking on big, all-day rides or to play for a few hours on woodland trails.
The suspension elements certainly work for me, and the slick, integrated execution is what BMC does best.
|Price||EUR €7999.00GBP £7600.00USD $7999.00|
|Available sizes||S, M, L, XL|
|Brakes||SRAM Force AXS HRD, 180/160mm rotors|
|Cassette||SRAM X01 Eagle 10-52T|
|Chain||SRAM X01 Eagle|
|Cranks||SRAM Force AXS 38T|
|Frame||URS Premium carbon with MTT|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Force AXS|
|Saddle||WTB SL8 Titanium|
|Seatpost||URS 01 Premium carbon D-shaped|
|Shifter||SRAM Force AXS|
|Tyres||WTB Raddler 700 x 40c TCS Light|
|Wheels||CRD 400 Carbon tubeless|