BMC GranFondo GF01 Disc review£2,499.00

Disc-equipped pro-grade chassis continues to hold its own

BikeRadar score4.5/5

BMC's GF01 Disc, which took our sister mag Cycling Plus's Bike of the Year title in 2015, may have been pipped this time around by the Cannondale CAAD12 Disc, but it's still as good as ever.

In fact, it's changed very little for 2016 aside from a switch to 25mm rubber across the range. Indeed, it actually has room for 28s – as last year's bike showed – but BMC is playing it safe as with the wider rims offered on some models, clearance is marginal.

Functional brilliance

Our test bike sported a signature BMC red-and-black paint job, with 105 headlining the component selection. The shifters are actually Shimano's non-series R785s which are sorta-kinda Ultegra level; suffice to say they do the job very well indeed.

The non-series shimano r785 shifters do the job admirably
The non-series shimano r785 shifters do the job admirably

The non-series Shimano R785 shifters do the job admirably

Things are rounded out with modest Shimano RX-31 wheels, an alloy cockpit, and the 'Compliance' seatpost that's a key part of the GF01's bump-taming arsenal.

Eschewing the swoopy flourishes deployed by more fanciful manufacturers, BMC frames tend to have a slightly utilitarian look about them, and the GF01 is no exception. Its carbon chassis sports the now-familiar dropped seatstays, along with the extra 'rib' between top tube and seat tube that's characteristic of the brand.

In mechanical groupset guise the GF01's gear cables are external along the length of the down tube, while the hydraulic brake hoses run internally, the front one cleverly disappearing into the upper cover of the headset.

Should you wish to switch to an electronic groupset, the cable stops can be removed to keep things tidy and the wires routed through neat ports. Another welcome touch is the smart integrated chain spotter which helps protect the frame from ham-fisted mechanics.

While the gear cables run along the length of the down tube, the brake hoses are routed internally
While the gear cables run along the length of the down tube, the brake hoses are routed internally

While the gear cables run along the length of the down tube, the brake hoses are routed internally

BMC makes great play of the thought that's gone into producing an ideal blend of stiffness and comfort, a system it calls Tuned Compliance Concept. (In line with current, some would say tedious trends, it's written on the chainstays should you need reminding.)

On the power transfer side, this dictates a massive down tube and bottom bracket shell, extra material around the fork crown, and chainstays with a huge cross-section thanks to their height. Comfort comes courtesy of so-called 'angle compliance', which is how BMC introduces vertical flex: the fork legs, flattened seatstays and chainstays are all kinked strategically for maximum give.

A complete road bike frameset

In the real world it's hard to define what makes the GF01 such a great bike to ride. It doesn't bend your mind with its lateral stiffness or do anything supernatural like make you 10% faster, it's just thoroughly… complete. The bike is reassuringly planted, and yet the rear end floats over road imperfections like they aren't really there.

The extra 'rib' between top tube and seat tube is another bmc hallmark
The extra 'rib' between top tube and seat tube is another bmc hallmark

The dropped 'stays and extra 'rib' between top tube and seat tube are BMC hallmarks

At the same time, it's a responsive, accurate steer, with the front wheel equally unperturbed by uneven surfaces. Get out of the saddle on a climb and the bike continues to deliver – those massive tubes and stout chainstays clearly serve a purpose, transferring pedal forces with clinical efficiency. There really is little to fault on the road as long as you're happy with the relatively relaxed position the tall head tube affords.

There's a trade-off with a bike like the GF01, in that its spec looks modest alongside many bikes in this price bracket. But if you think of it as an investment in a top-level frame, it makes a great deal of sense.

And it's not like it's truly lacking either – functionally, 105 is virtually indistinguishable from Ultegra, it's just slightly heavier and not as pretty. And while the wheels are nothing special, they'll get the job done while you ponder tasty upgrades.

The GF01 may not really have changed for 2016 but it's so good it didn't really need to. In an ideal world we'd get a little more on the kit list but we're only saying that because it's our job to be ever-demanding.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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