Field Tested: BMC Granfondo GF02 Ultegra Disc

BMC_GranFondo

Mixed-surface riding is a pleasure every cyclist should partake at least once a week, because most neighborhoods offer the proper terrain if you look hard enough. The BMC Grandfondo GF02 is a wonderfully capable machine to handle most anything in its path, and the time I spent on its saddle was never uncomfortable.

The Granfondo GF02 set me up for success rather than ill-fitting failure, with its medium-length 57cm top tube, longer 102.6cm wheelbase (than a standard skinny-tire road bike), and lower bottom bracket height for confident handling in all situations. My 58cm tester also had a 176mm long head tube, an ideal height for using both the tops and drops. In short, very traditional geometry, which—like a nice pair of wingtip shoes—never gets old.

Ride quality

I may be partial to lightweight steel frames, but BMC’s multi-shaped and uniquely engineered triple-butted anodized aluminum somehow provides crisp handling without shocking my spine like aluminum frames of old. Part of this is due to the rather svelte and tapered seat stays, offsetting the bulbous downtube and chainstays. This helps with straight tracking through softer off-road curves and when standing is the best way to grunt up a hill without wasting energy.

Descending is fairly effortless and stable on the GF02 as well because I never worried about that noodly feeling typical of most lighter steel road bikes (this isn’t a lightweight, mind you; at nearly 20 pounds some might consider it kinda heavy, which I prefer for rough riding). Climbing in the saddle—my prefered style—never felt sluggish or top heavy, especially when the pitch really got steep in the dirt. My hands also settled in comfortably all over the bars, providing ample grip and access to the shifting and brakes regardless of my speed. The GF02 really shines when pushed to a moderate speed on small gravel and sand.

Extras

We’re seeing several new models with disc brakes grace the Bicycle Times California workshop this season, and we couldn’t be happier because they scrub speed in all conditions with less effort. The GF02’s aluminum frame is bolstered up front with a full carbon fork with tapered steer, and in the middle with its carbon seatpost cousin in a svelte 27.2mm buzz-killing diameter.

Fight progress all you want, but 11-speed gearing is upon us, and the standard compact crankset (50/34) mixed well with the uber low geared 11-32 cassette. I’ll never complain about the overall quality and performance of Shimano Ultegra mechanical components, although I’m spoiled by the electronic Di2 version I’ve ridden on other bikes this year. The GF02 is also future proof, with ports to retrofit electronic wires internally if you so choose.


Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in Issue #32 of Bicycle Times. To make sure you never miss a bike review, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.


The 35mm wide Continental Cyclocross Speed tires have the right amount of fine file tread for all surfaces, which I ran at 58psi across the board without any traction trouble or fussy flatting. My test editor Eric and I first rode this model in April with 28mm tires, but props to BMC for speccing a proper tire rather than leaving room for something fatter. There are fittings on the lower seatstays and inside the chainstay brake bridge  for fenders, but none for a rear rack. Maximum tire clearance is 38mm.

The DT Swiss X-1900 wheels run a standard quick release when other brands have chosen the stouter thru axle. The jury is still out on whether more riders prefer one over the other; we have no beefs with the standard.

For those interested in a full carbon diet, the GF01 Disc Endurance models come specced with a choice of top-of-the-line Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic, Ultegra Di2, Ultegra or 105 mechanical. The caveat? Less tire clearance, and stock 28mm slick tires with little clearance for bigger rubber.

Parting thoughts

Overall, the GF02 strikes a nice balance between latest tech and old-school handling. There’s a unique space-age look of the multi-shaped aluminum tubing with the bulldog front and teeny rear, but it works. The aesthetic is pleasing to the eye after a long journey, once the bike is resting against the bench outside the convenience store and your mind and body have had a chance to process the experience.

That’s the beauty of a proper mixed-surface bike: plenty of design moderation, which factors in performance without sacrificing comfort over the short, medium or long haul, something that a pure thoroughbred racing machine often neglects. Why race through a ride when you should just enjoy the journey? Mix in some offroad clipless or lightweight platform pedals, and the $3,999 BMC Granfondo GF02 could be the one bike you grab if necessity dictates just one bike in your garage this year.


Vital stats

Price: $3,999

Weight: 19.6 pounds

Sizes: 48, 51, 54, 56, 58 (tested), 61cm

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