A few weeks ago 'new bike day' arrived. A 2016 BMC GF02 Disc. New bikes always bring excitement and this time was no different. I went for this bike as it's a go anywhere, built tough, equipped with Shimano's excellent 105 groupset, it can carry a rear rack and looks great.
It going to grind gravel, get me to the office and meetings, go out in bad weather and take me on new adventures over several days on the road and dirt.
Words and Images - Mike Boudrie
I've been getting about on the GF02 for a few weeks now and the inevitable has happened... I've started looking at upgrades. In my experience this usually starts small, "Oh, I'll just change the tape' or, 'I need a different saddle'... Then you blink and without realising it you've got a bike where the only thing that came standard is the frame and forks.
So this time I'm embracing change and documenting each change to the bike.
Today we start with change number one... actually one two and three... bars, stem, and saddle.
Bikes at this level are generally well equipped. They come with standard parts that get the job done and are robust enough to last. They do tend to be a little on the heavy side though. Weight saving is on the verge of being a sport itself these days, however I don't want to go to extremes as the GF02 Disc is never going to be a feather weight.
The goal is to choose quality components that offer higher than average performance with lower weight, without breaking the bank.
I've decided that it's best to start with some Pro equipment... and the Team Sky range fitted the bill perfectly, in addition, the blue colouring works in beautifully with the frame. Some may call a 'matchie matchie' fine but I'll take it. I think it looks great.
Saddle choice can be hit and miss. Any time I'm on a new bike it's pretty much the first thing I'll change. I've got my favourites, but I'm always on the look out for something better. Over the years I've been riding, trial and error got me on the right saddle... now I can pretty much tell if a saddle is going to work for me just by having a quick look. If you're just getting into cycling though, this is not an option, and going with a recommendation from a friend usually results in a sore backside.
So to experiment, I headed to Essendon Cyclery and sat on their Pro Measurement Tool. It's basically a box that you sit on for a while that leaves 'behind' a perfect imprint of your sit bones. The shop will then measure up and tell you in mm how wide your sit bones are.
I took this information to the Pro Saddle Selector along with some other information around flexibility, saddle shape, colour and construction materials and out popped the Turnix Hollow AF (Anatomical Fit) in black - the 132mm version.
This is a semi-round saddle with cut out that comes in at 205 grams. Going for a Carbon option would have saved me 50 grams but cost $100 to $150 more depending on where you buy. I think the carbon option is worth the money if your are really counting grams.
So, a couple of rides in an I'm very happy, there's been no need to break in the saddle, it's light enough, I've had none of the dreaded numbness we all do our best to avoid and the comfort has been great. Build quality is also high and I really like the clean look... plus the blue rubber logo that matches the frame...
Overall I'm impressed by the Turnix saddle from Pro. It's a genuine alternative aftermarket saddle and the saddle selection tool does a good job of putting some science behind your final choice.
BARS AND STEM
On the face of it, bars and stem are a much more simple choice than your saddle. But there's still room to go wrong. Length is everything here. The best I can suggest is that you take the time and spend some of your hard earned cash to get a professional bike fit. It will save you money in the long run. You'll ride better, be more comfortable and avoid expensive mistakes in buying the wrong size or shape equipment.
Out of the box the Team Sky version of the Vibe stem looks awesome, it has definitely got the look. If you're anti matchie matchie it also comes in a all black version. It's a really beautifully machined stem. Aluminium construction keeps the cost down, but it is still at the lighter end of the spectrum and there's seven lengths ranging from 80mm through to 140mm in 10mm increments all at a -10 degree angle fitting a 31.8mm bar.
One of the highlights of this stem, aside from the great look and finish, is the 'puzzle clamp' system. It's got just two bolts on the bar side making things quick and easy to mount. It also results in a very clean look. The 7075 series alloy construction results in a solid, stiff stem. Again, I'm only a couple of rides in but first impressions are good. The Vibe 7S comes in at around A$150.
I've paired up the Pro Vibe 7S stem with the Team Sky Vibe 7S Compact 42cm bar. The first thing I noticed when I got these on the bike was the circumference of the bars in the flat section is pretty large. It almost felt like I had two rolls of tape on the bars... but no. However out on the road and on the rough stuff I actually really liked the bigger bar. Having largish hands means that you can hold on and get a really good even pressure around the bar without being white knuckled. It's something I had not really considered before.
There's a massive range of shapes and widths of bars available now. The Pro Vibe 7S comes in 38cm to 44cm (C/C) in two cm increments and round, anatomic or compact bend. I've gone 42cm and compact for this bike. Width is pretty much set to your body, but you can choose the shape on what suits you and what riding you'll be going.
Like the stem, these bars are nice and stiff and can be picked up for around A$130. They are not super light at a starting weight of 260 grams, but definitely respectable for an alloy bar, and in my view a good mix of weight, performance and robustness.
I'm honestly not sure, I'd like to get a back to back comparison going of the current cable disc brakes against some hydraulics... I'm pretty sure I'll know which option will win the prize there.
For now I'm happy to be comfortable and have pulled a few hundred grams off the overall weight of the GF... and it looks great.