Yesterday at the Australian launch of the new BMC granfondo GF01 the opportunity to ride a BMC Team Machine SLR01 complete with Zipp Firecrest 808's - on some gnarly single track left me grinning like a werewolf - full of self amusement howling loud at the moon. Some mountain bike types were amused as well when noticing a bunch of "roadies' dressed in full BMC kit, taking a spin through the bush.
In normal circumstances most riders wouldn't take their road machines into the domain of off road - normally reserved for mountain bikes - then opt for a bash along some gnarly single track. Sure cyclo-cross bikes have been around a long while - yet a full carbon road bike?
The new BMC granfondo GF01 which debuted this year at the Paris Roubaix, ridden by Thor Hushovd, Taylor Phinney, and George Hincapie is different. Keen to show us what the granfondo is capable of, including the new ultra compliance and comfort built in - Aussie BMC distributors Echelon Sports found some gnarly single track for us to test the new machines on. There weren't enough granfondo's to go round, so a couple of riders were on racemachineRM01's and the bike I rode was a Team Machine SLR01 with a pair of Zipp Firecrest 808's. The Team Machine SLR01 has been used in races like Paris Roubaix, so why not a section of gnarly single track, really it couldn't be that different.
First we set off on a bitumen road and then onto one of Brisbane's most popular mountain bike venues at Daisy Hill. Logs to jump, drop off's, stony "cobbled' sections, muddy creek beds, thin tires in loose dirt and gravel. Yet when it came down to it the Team Machine SLR01 came through with flying colours. At first I was a bit tentative about the whole idea, yet as soon as we entered the single track and whipped around the first couple of corners the grin widened with anticipation at the prospect of what lay ahead.
The Team Machine SLR01 steers with precision, and the front end is ultra stiff, out on the bitumen with the 808's and a slight breeze, certain corners required a bit more effort in counter steering than I'd normally expect for a bicycle, at times almost requiring an input level that I'm used to on motorcycles. No I'm not a sissie when it comes to wheels, having ridden 100km teams time trials with full discs front and rear (sounding like The Crank here)! I wondered though how this bike would feel with a box section rim setup. On the single track and surprise it was ideal, no wind on the Aussie bush track -- run it up to the corner, flick it through on all the fast flowing sections, the precision steering comes to the fore here, making it easy to keep the speed high. Obstacles are no problem, the front end being featherlight - pop the wheel skywards or just bunny hop the whole bike as it's so light or just run it over the "cobbles" and let the bike do the work via the TCC and wheel / tire combination - just let it flex.
Add more to the fun factor, back it into corners and you're on the way drifting the rear - howling like that werewolf. Obviously out on the road you're going to use your front brake, yet on the loose powdery dust the rear brake was just the ticket helping the rear wheel to step out - then just let if drift.
There was one drop off, about a metre straight down where the guys on the granfondo GF01's let it rip. Sure the SLR01 has compliance built in, but certainly not as much as the granfondo's, so a gave that one a miss, plus not keen on the idea of hearing a set of 808's possibly give way with a crack. Despite this the granfondo's took it all in their stride. Apart from that one drop off the SLR01 with the 808's was a barrel of laughs, just wish we could have kept going all afternoon.
Now before you get all fired up then decide to jump on your favourite $10 k plus road machine by taking up the grinners challenge - and go bush bashing on it, consider this. Check your warranty! It probably says not for off road use - warranty will be void - your choice.
So when BMC say they've got compliance dialed in, they've got it dialed in in spades - especially the granfondo. As for the firecrest's Zipp say of the 808's "making it an excellent choice for just about any terrain and riding style." I'm not certain that Zipp meant any terrain to include gnarly single track off road riding, but they work. More on these BMC fun compliance machines soon.
Andy from Kaos Custom Bikes says - The GF01 was the best road bike I have ever taken off road...... Kaos Andy
BMC bike images by Robert Cobcroft