The marriage of disc brakes to drop-bar bicycles with fatter-than-whippet-thin-racerboy-standard tires is evolving quickly, and the exciting ‘all-surface’ category is prompting more non racers to get back on bikes, in our opinion. This is healthy for many reasons, among them the versatility this category affords.
For starters, many newer cyclists aren’t bound by tradition or category, and many would love a machine that enables them to explore. What we called ‘bicycles’ in the 1970s have now evolved into dozens of new categories, each with corresponding rules, costumes and expected behavior. The BMC Gran Fondo GF02 does away with most of that malarkey.
The GF02 uses a multi-shaped aluminum frame with a carbon fork, a combination I’m typically not fond of for its usual harsh ride; BMC has engineered some interesting ride-softening tricks into the frame, namely some of the tiniest seatstays I’ve ever seen, coupled with some variable tubing manipulation up front to coexist with the terrain.
Mind you, there’s built-in suspension with larger tires, and the road and dirt-friendly Continental 700x35c tires work well anywhere. I also appreciate the lower gearing that a Shimano Ultegra 50/34 compact crank and 11-28-tooth 11-speed cassette provides, especially on my Arastradero Preserve test track in nearby Palo Alto.
I’ve taken this $3,999 Swiss army knife out for its maiden voyage, and will give my First Impressions later this month.