With the URS 01 ONE, BMC sent us their flagship gravel bike to take on the competition. Is the top-specced, purple-coloured gravel rocket from Grenchen as versatile as a Swiss army knife or more of a Swiss watch specialist? We found out.
A quick overview of this group test: The best gravel bike 2021
For 2021, the BMC URS 01 ONE – short for UnReStricted – is bursting with self-confidence with its purple paintwork. The bold colour and minimal branding get a thumbs up from us. The Swiss brand chose to build up their flagship gravel bike with a colour-coordinated ENVE G23 wheelset and a groupset combining SRAM RED eTap AXS shifters, SRAM RED brakes and an Eagle AXS XX1 rear derailleur. In contrast to last year, the URS 01 ONE gets a 180 mm rotor up front and a 160 mm one at the rear for 2021. Yeehaa! In addition to bosses for a total of four bottle cages, the carbon frameset has a whole ecosystem of optional accessories, from in-house mudguards to GPS and GoPro mounts. The BMC ICS 01 stem has a cleverly positioned port for the internally routed cables and is combined with the Easton EA70 AX aluminium handlebar. As we found in our first ride review, the compliance offered by BMC 01 Premium Carbon D-Shape seatpost performed convincingly. As a clever alternative, BMC offer an insert that makes the D-shaped profile compatible with conventional 27.2 mm seat posts.
BMC URS 01 ONE
Seatpost BMC 01 Premium Carbon D-Shape Seatpost 0 mm
Brakes SRAM RED HRD 180/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM RED eTap AXS mit Eagle AXS XX1-Schaltwerk 38 (10–52)
Stem BMC ICS 01 80 mm
Handlebar Easton EC70 AX 440 mm
Wheelset ENVE G23
Tires WTB Raddler TSC 40C
Size S M L XL
Weight 8,02 kg
Bolting points for mudfenders and GPS-mounts
MTT system with elastomer in the seat stays
Compatibility with Fox 32 SC AX fork
bolting points at the top of the top tube and at the bottom of the down tube
|Seat tube||431 mm||459 mm||492 mm||527 mm|
|Top tube||557 mm||578 mm||591 mm||612 mm|
|Head tube||113 mm||146 mm||172 mm||207 mm|
|Chainstays||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm||425 mm|
|BB Drop||69 mm||69 mm||69 mm||69 mm|
|Wheelbase||1,041 mm||1,064 mm||1,081 mm||1,105 mm|
|Reach||403 mm||415 mm||419 mm||429 mm|
|Stack||538 mm||569 mm||603 mm||641 mm|
Aboard the BMC, you can’t help but dream of the endless expanses and compact gravel roads of the Midwest. It’s the perfect long-distance bike!
The striking Micro Travel Technology (MTT) suspension system, which puts an elastomer insert between the seat stays and seat tube, offers up to 10 mm of travel and provides additional comfort. However, comfort is only a by-product of MTT. According to BMC, the system is primarily designed to offer more traction on the rear wheel. Rubber protectors on the fork and down tube round off the bike, which weighs in at 8.02 kg in size L. The gravel bike is available in four sizes and the high-end configuration of the flagship model will set you back by € 8,999.
The URS accelerates efficiently and the speed it carries is the epitome of a long-distance bike. Even if there are more light-footed bikes when pulling away and on the climbs, it impresses with its seated acceleration when rolling as well as its efficiency at holding speed. There is never any loss of traction with the BMC! The bike’s handling is well-suited to long distances as it’s extremely composed, offering excellent straight-line stability with the agility of the front and rear nicely balanced. Tight corners and quick direction changes require a lot of input from the rider as the bike is not very playful.
Its stability almost makes it feel like you’re riding on autopilot. On the straights and in long corners on compact surfaces, it feels incredibly secure. It’s a carving dream come true! Even on steep descents, it remains composed and the ample braking power delivered by the SRAM stoppers is intuitive to modulate. Only in rough and technical terrain does the bike reach its limits with its 700 x 40C tires, at which point it no longer feels as composed. At 172 mm, the head tube of the BMC is one of the longest on test. Since the 419 mm reach is compensated for by the 80 mm stem, the riding position is very comfortable and invites you to go on all-day rides. The MTT system and the frame’s compliance perform perfectly, dampening small vibrations and undulating compressions. On the other hand, bigger hits are still passed on to the rider, which can come as a surprise as the bike otherwise feels so calm. This slightly deceptive behaviour is also reflected in the imbalance between the comfort of the rear and stiffness of the front.
Tuning-tip: we wouldn’t change anything about this bike! Chapeau to the product manager.
With the URS 01 ONE, BMC have created a first-class gravel bike for long distances, offering excellent vibration damping and super stable, confidence-inspiring handling on bad roads and easy gravel routes. The bike reaches its limits in technically demanding and rough terrain. Anyone who mainly rides on quiet roads and fine gravel routes will get a classy looking and excellently specced bike.
- absolutely coherent build
- excellent long-distance performance on moderate terrain
- excellent efficiency at speed
- confidence instilling on easy off-road terrain
- imbalanced comfort
- limited off-road performance
Not sure which gravel bike you should buy? This guide will help you for sure: gravel bike buyers guide.
You wonder what tires to put on your gravel machine? We recently tested the best gravel tires against each other in our gravel tire group test.
Find more information here: bmc-switzerland.com
Get an overview of this group test: The best gravel-bike 2021 – 13 models on review
All bikes on review: 3T Exploro Race EKAR 1X13 (Click for review) | ARC8 Eero (Click for review) | BMC URS 01 ONE | Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 3 (Click for review) | Canyon Grail CF SLX 8 eTap (Click for review) | Fustle Causeway GRX600 (Click for review) | OPEN WI.DE. (Click for review) | Ridley Kanzo Fast (Click for review) | Ritte Satyr (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD FORCE ETAP AXS LIMITED (Click for review) | ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11 (Click for review) | Specialized S-Works Diverge (Click for review) | Trek Checkpoint (Click for review)
No, it’s not about perfect race tracks, it’s about efficiency. Fast, fleet-footed and efficient – those who want to speed along high-speed passages need a defined and spritely bike that accelerates with ease and efficiency. Nevertheless, reliable components are important too. We interpret “Smooth tarmac” bikes as follows: Hard efforts at high speeds with a maximum efficient bike on a consistently well-paved road. Effort-joy ratio: 80:30 (not everything has to be 100%!)↩
… also known as bike riding. Broken-up roads in the hinterland, deadlocked gravel roads, loose surfaces – sometimes muddy, sometimes bone-dry. For this, it takes bikes with super all-round, handling and wearing qualities uphill and downhill. Effort-joy ratio: 50:50↩
If you want to use your bike almost every day, you usually do not need an extremely tuned racing machine. Solid components, which are able to cope with the rigours of continuous usage in any kind of weather, are part of the basic equipment. At the same time, the bike should have practicable details: integrated fenders/assembly options, luggage racks/attachment points and a light system or at least the option of installing bike lights. The position on the bike should be rather relaxed, the overall comfort high, so that the Afterwork Ride becomes a cure and not a curse. Effort-joy ratio: 30:70↩
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Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: Valentin Rühl