The bike that won Paris-Roubaix

A detailed look at Greg Van Avermaet's BMC Granfondo RBX

As the announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeaker in Compiegne, calling the favorites to the front of the start of Paris-Roubaix, Greg Van Avermaet sat at the very back of the field, crouched over a bike that would soon be crashed on the cobblestones.

As riders packed inside the starting corral, former winners like Tom Boonen, John Degenkolb and Mathew Hayman were lauded before the crowd. The man who would win the day sat quietly just inside the end of the metal fencing, checking his air pressure.

Van Avermaet began the day aboard his #1 bike. Like so many riders, he checked and double checked his air pressure before starting off from Compiegne
Van Avermaet began the day aboard his #1 bike. Like so many riders, he checked and double checked his air pressure before starting off from Compiegne

Next year, Van Avermaet will be called to the front.

Here is a look at the BMC Granfondo RBX that the Olympic road champion raced on for the second half of Roubaix after a bunch tumble removed his first one from contention.

Frameset born in 2015, build tweaked for 2017

Launched in 2015, the BMC Granfondo RBX offers some cushioning via a long, flexing seatpost and low seatstays
Launched in 2015, the BMC Granfondo RBX offers some cushioning via a long, flexing seatpost and low seatstays

The RBX version of BMC’s endurance Granfondo platform was launched at the 2015 Paris-Roubaix (where Avermaet took third on it). The concept was pretty simple: Paris-Roubaix all but demands fat tires, and bikes need to be able to accommodate them.

Most riders this year raced on either 28 or 30mm tubulars, with the odd exceptions like Ian Stannard who used 27mm tires — but on a hydraulic rear-suspension bike.

Van Avermaet went with 30mm unmarked Vittoria tires, a common choice at Roubaix alongside Continental’s stalwart Competition and the boutique Dugast and FMB casings.

Van Avermaet raced on 30mm unmarked Vittoria tubulars
Van Avermaet raced on 30mm unmarked Vittoria tubulars

Since winning the road race at last summer's Rio Olympics, Van Avermaet trains and races with a gold SRM PC8 head unit. His first bike also had a simple piece of tape on the stem with key sectors noted in pen.

The only other noteworthy pieces of gear were the single bar-top brake lever, and the non-series 105-level Shimano direct-mount brake calipers that work well with that lever.

Many riders tackle the cobbles with their hands on the handlebar tops, and a few like to have a brake within reach. Notably, second-place finisher Zydnek Stybar of Quick Step had two such top-mount levers on his Specialized Roubaix.

More common at Roubaix are electronic shift buttons placed high on the bars near the stem. Stybar had these, too, but Van Avermaet just went with his typical placement of the sprint shifters on the inside of the bar drops, with the small one-way buttons peeking through a slit in the handlebar tape.

Paris-Roubaix is an unusual race with unusual bike setups
Paris-Roubaix is an unusual race with unusual bike setups

Van Avermaet's group was a mix of Shimano’s latest Dura-Ace Di2 group, the 9150, with the older 9050 derailleurs and SRM Shimano 11-speed power meter. SRM confirmed to BikeRadar that it will not be producing power meters with 9100 series cranks since Shimano jumped into the power-measuring game.

When you win the Olympic road race you can have a gold SRM PC8, too
When you win the Olympic road race you can have a gold SRM PC8, too

It appears that Van Avermaet didn’t grab his gold PC8 head unit off the first bike in the melee of the crash and subsequent bike switch.

Some armchair fans criticize pros for relying too much on power numbers for pacing, but the reality is that many riders and teams use the tools in racing to record the efforts for later analysis, especially in one-day events like Paris-Roubaix. In any event, Van Avermaet lead the day’s final break of three riders into the Roubaix velodrome for the finishing lap and a half, and came across the line in the same position aboard his BMC Granfondo RBX.

Van Avermaet has SRM Shimano 11-spd power meters on both bikes. Since Shimano began making a power meter, SRM won't be making power meters with 9100 cranks
Van Avermaet has SRM Shimano 11-spd power meters on both bikes. Since Shimano began making a power meter, SRM won't be making power meters with 9100 cranks

Check out the gallery above for a closer look, and be sure to visit Cyclingnews for complete coverage of the 2017 Paris-Roubaix.

Ben Delaney

US Editor-in-Chief
Ben has been writing about bikes since 2000, covering everything from the Tour de France to Asian manufacturing to kids' bikes. The former editor-in-chief of VeloNews, he began racing in college while getting a journalism degree at the University of New Mexico. Based in the cycling-crazed city of Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two kids, Ben enjoys riding most every day.
  • Discipline: Road (paved or otherwise), cyclocross and sometimes mountain. His tri-curious phase seems to have passed, thankfully
  • Preferred Terrain: Quiet mountain roads leading to places unknown
  • Current Bikes: Scott Foil Team Issue, Specialized S-Works Tarmac, Priority Eight city bike... and a constant rotation of test bikes
  • Dream Bike: A BMC Teammachine SLR01 with disc brakes and clearance for 30mm tires (doesn't yet exist)
  • Beer of Choice: Saison Dupont
  • Location: Boulder, CO, USA

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