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While its full name of Gran Fondo GF01 suggests a bike designed for more endurance-minded riders, make no mistake – this bike was designed to be raced. So how does its disc incarnation measure up under testing?
The GF01’s geometry sits firmly in the middle between out and out sportive bike and race machine. To make a brief comparison with a similarly positioned bike – Cannondale’s Synapse Disc – it’s 19mm lower in stack and 3mm longer in reach. The wheelbase, however, is 20mm longer and its angles match the Synapse at 73.5-degree seat, 72.5-degree head. On the road its no surprise that the bikes feel very similarly matched. The BMC is a little weightier than the Cannondale by half a kilo, but this doesn’t reveal itself even on the stiffest climbs of out test loop, especially with the very friendly 50/34 11-32 gearing, just what the doctor ordered for the steepest inclines. The Synapse has the edge on the scales thanks to its loftier Ultegra group as opposed to the GF’s 105, though the Synapse is marginally heftier on your wallet too.
Up front, BMC’s straight fork with its radically kicked forward dropouts does the same brilliant job; indeed, the business end matches Trek’s clever Domane fork for supple smooth control and impeccable stiffness. The way the GF handles is just how we like our bikes to be: it’s nimble enough yet wonderfully stable at speed, it never packs unwelcome surprises and it instils confidence in its abilities – in turn inspiring confidence in us.
The real surprise with the chassis is the quality level. Unlike its rivals, such as the the Domane and Synapse, its not a lower-grade version of the top flight frame – with the GF you get the full pro-level construction.
We also admire that BMC has designed the frame as fully dual fit for either mechanical or electronic. In its mechanical spec you get external routing for the gear cabling, but the cable bosses are removable so the bike can be fully internally routed for electronic drivetrains. The hydraulic hoses are already fully internal with a clever through-headset spacer route. The spacer is 20mm deep so you can’t slam the front end down to the bearings, but we never found that an issue as the front end never felt overly tall.
We also like that BMC includes all of the replacement blanking plates for the cable stops – and even the internal battery holder that fits within the compliance post. This is thoughtful futureproofing that BMC should be commended for.
The superb braking from the Shimano R785 brakes with their Ice-Tech rotors, and the aforementioned fat tyres, encouraged us to get off the beaten track as soon as possible, so a slight deviation and extension to our standard test route onto local military chalk and gravel roads to test the mettle of the GF was very much in order.
The exterior cable stops can be removed if you want to run internal cables
All we can say is, wow! We dropped the tyre pressure to a more compliant 80psi and the bike proved an absolute blast on these unmade surfaces. When things got muddy and turned more trail than track, the BMC can’t quite match GT’s Grade for absolute off-road prowess, but on road it retains an edge.
Now some may baulk at bike at this price ‘only’ having 105, but in our honest opinion the dynamic attributes of the new 11-speed 105 in shift quality and speed match Ultegra in every way. With Ultegra you lose a few grams to your advantage, but we’d rather keep our hands on the upgraded BMC frame.
So what would we criticise about the GF01? Honestly very little – the frame is epically good, and the braking too. The alloy cockpit is solid, with a well shaped bar – it’s nothing to write home about, but there’s nothing wrong with it. The Shimano RX31 disc wheels are competent mid-range items, typical Shimano quality, though in an ideal world we’d want to upgrade them eventually and unleash the full potential of the GF01.
But really, as you may have guessed, we’re clutching at straws trying to eke out any negatives here – this is a ride that deserves all the superlatives we can throw at it.
|3.8 kmSwimming||180 kmCycling||42 kmRunning|
There’s no doubt that Challenge Taiwan 2014 was the best triathlon event have ever held in Taiwan! The marketing before the event, the planing of the race course, the arrangement of the supplement,… If you didn’t participate 2014, you must join next year!
Great event, looking forward to the next year.
Excellent event, I will miss it very much.
Can raise the registration fee, and make a more atmosphere festival.
Very satisfied with Challenge Taiwan event, this is the highest standard, the most diligent event, thank you!
The two-lap swim is in a man-made reservoir within easy views for spectators watching from the shore. The course starts from a pontoon in an anti-clockwise direction with a total of two turn buoys. The average water depth for most of the course is 2.5m.The swim course is in crystal clear water from a natural spring and mild temperatures.
Wetsuit: to be confirmed at race briefing.
Event swim cap: compulsory and is provided at registration
Exiting the swim course at Flowing Lake, you will need to collect your T1 (swim to bike) bag and proceed to either the men’s or women’s changing tents. Once you have changed into your cycling gear, please place all of your swim gear in your T1 bag and leave at the collection point. One of the Volunteers will collect your T1 bag which will be placed at your bike. Bikes will be pre-racked (by you) the day before the race in numerical order. Your helmet must be clipped on before unracking your bike, and you must proceed on foot to exit T1 and head out onto the bike course.
The course heads out of town over ZhongHua bridge and hits the coast shortly after XiaoYeLiu. After which it continues along Taiwan’s beautiful east coast rolling trough Doulan and turning around before DongHe to head back to TaiTung city to then turnaround for a second lap.
Aid stations on the bike will be approximately 20km apart. These will have bike bottles with sports drink or water in them. Energy bars, salty snacks and bananas will also be available from specific aid stations.
If you are caught drafting you will be penalized and/or disqualified. Please read the ‘Terms & Conditions’ which are part of the entry form for clarification on our drafting rules.
Once you come to the end of the bike, you must dismount before you enter T2 and walk your bike to your numbered rack. You must once again collect your T2 bag (bike to run) and proceed back to the men’s or women’s change tents to prepare for the run. Once again, put all of your cycling gear in your T2 bag and leave it at the collection point where our staff will collect it and place it at your bike after the race.
Aid stations will be positioned approximately every 2.5km on the run. They will be offering sports drink, gels, bars, water, Coke, bananas and salt. Other foods will be available, and will vary from station to station. Sponges will also be available. After Dark for those athletes finishing in over 10 hours there will be some important considerations.
As you come up the finish chute, take a little time to reflect on what you have achieved, and relish the experience of finishing “Challenge Taiwan”.