In a time when gravel racers are all the rage, BMC are unveiling a gravel rig designed specifically for racing, the brand-new Kaius. While the latest addition to BMC’s gravel family lines up right next to the URS in the portfolio of the Swiss manufacturer, it wants to be completely different. But is it just a thoroughbred racer or is it also suitable for everyday action heroes?
BMC don’t like to do things by half measure. This time, the Swiss manufacturer are releasing an off-road version of their popular Teammachine road bike, thus adding a race-specific rig to their existing gravel portfolio, which was previously aimed primarily at adventure riders. The frame was developed uncompromisingly for racing performance and weighs in at 910 g in size 54. Complete bikes tip the scales starting at just 7.4 kg. We’ve already had the opportunity to test the € 11,499 BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023. To find out whether it does what it says on the tin, we put BMC’s new gravel racer through the wringer at the “La Monsterrato – Strade Bianche Monferrato ” gravel race in Piedmont.
The BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023 in detail
At first glance, the BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023 looks a lot like BMC’s road racer, the Teammachine. However, the frame is built using different carbon layups in different sections, which is meant to strike an optimal balance between compliance and stiffness while keeping weight to a minimum. As a result, the new Kaius is just 90 g heavier than the Teammachine. BMC’s main aim was to increase stiffness in the down tube and chainstays in order to ensure a high degree of lateral stiffness. At the same time, the seat tube and chainstays offer slightly more flex, providing the necessary compliance.
Even smaller details such as the revised seat stays make for an eye-catching appearance. Overall, the Kaius has a super clean look. The high level of integration is emphasised by the stealth thru-axles, colour-matched one-piece handlebars and internal cable routing.
The frame is compatible both with 1x and 2x drivetrains and offers up to 44 mm tire clearance. However, the small chainstay protector should be a reminder that the Kaius 01 is still a gravel bike – heavily beefed up, but still a gravel bike! Nevertheless, the wide downtube merges seamlessly into the matching Aerocore bottle cage, proving that aerodynamics were high on BMC’s list of priorities. A mounting point for a bag on the top tube is meant to extend the range of applications of the Kaius and make it suitable for tours.
Spec and model variants of the BMC Kaius 01 2023
The BMC Kaius 01 2023 is available in 3 versions. The Kaius 01 entry model tips the scales at 8.9 kg and retails at €5,499. The 02 model costs €8,499 and weighs in at 8.2 kg. The Kaius 01 flagship model in this test sets you back €11,499 and weighs in at 7.4 kg. The weight specifications refer to a frame size 54 with two bottle cages and tubeless setup. All Kaius models rely on the same frame, aero carbon wheels, 40 mm wide Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H tires and wireless SRAM drivetrain. The Kaius 01 flagship model comes equipped with a 1x drivetrain while the two cheaper versions feature a 2x drivetrain.
The spec of our 2023 BMC Kaius 01 ONE test bike
The BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023 rolls on wide 40 mm Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H tires, which not only contribute to the excellent damping qualities of the bike but also combine excellent cornering traction and low rolling resistance on tarmac – and even survived the race unscathed despite dealing with some pretty gnarly sections. The tires are mounted on a high-profile Zipp 303 Firecrest wheelset, which ensures excellent aerodynamics but is more susceptible to crosswinds.
Shifting is taken care of by a SRAM Red AXS 12-speed drivetrain with 10-44 cassette and 42t chainring.
The highlight of the spec is BMC’s proprietary ICS Carbon Aero Cockpit, which is the same found on Teammachine and Timemachine. All cables are routed internally ,underlining the clean look of the bike. A two-piece spacer allows you to adjust the stack height without having to disassemble the entire cockpit, while a device mount at the bottom can be used to securely attach a GoPro or a Garmin GPS device. The flat profile of the one-piece stem/handlebar unit ensures better aerodynamics than a classic rounded handlebar while at the same time allowing for more compliance – excellent! Measuring just 360 mm at the hoods and 420 mm at the flares, the handlebars are rather narrow, which, together with the strong 12.5° flare, ensures an aerodynamic pedalling position even when riding in the hoods. In the drops, which are 135 mm lower than the hoods, the flare sets your arms further apart, ensuring a more stable and confidence-inspiring riding position and preventing your arms from hitting the top of the bars when sprinting in the drops. The icing on the cake: the cockpit is colour-matched to the frame of the Kaius.
BMC Kaius 01 ONE
Seatpost Kaius 01 Premium Carbon D-Shaped Seatpost
Brakes SRAM Red eTap AXS 160/160 mm
Drivetrain SRAM Red eTap AXS 42T (10–44T)
Stem ICS Carbon Aero 90 mm
Handlebar ICS Carbon Aero 420 mm
Wheelset Zipp 303 Firecrest
Tires Pirelli Cinturato GRavel H 700x40C
Size 47 51 54 56 58 61
Weight 7,4 kg
The geometry of the BMC Kaius 01 2023
The geometry of the BMC Kaius 01 2023 is characterised by a long reach, relatively long chainstays and low bottom bracket. While the pedalling position was deliberately chosen to resemble the Teammachine, the longer top tube and shorter stem make for a longer wheelbase, thus ensuring a smoother ride for gravel racers.
|Top tube||546 mm||559 mm||569 mm||579 mm||592 mm||604 mm|
|Head tube||85 mm||106 mm||123 mm||144 mm||170 mm||196 mm|
|BB Drop||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm||80 mm|
|Chainstays||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm||420 mm|
|Wheelbase||1003 mm||1017 mm||1015 mm||1026 mm||1039 mm||1051 mm|
|Reach||390 mm||397 mm||401 mm||405 mm||410 mm||414 mm|
|Stack||510 mm||530 mm||550 mm||570 mm||595 mm||620 mm|
First ride review BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023
As soon as you swing your leg over the saddle, the BMC Kaius 01 ONE 2023 puts you in a comfortable yet sporty and slightly stretched riding position. While this is hardly noticeable on moderate terrain, as soon as the road starts pointing uphill you’ll have to actively weight the front wheel, especially when negotiating steeper sections. If you hang out regularly on steep climbs, we recommend pushing the saddle forward or switching to a seat post without setback.
When you start pedalling, you notice straight away that the Kaius is fast! Once you get moving, it is unstoppable, regardless of the terrain you’re riding on.
The frame provides a good degree of compliance, ensuring good control on bumpy sections and great riding comfort together with the wide Pirelli tires. With its narrow handlebars, the Kaius responds to steering input quickly and precisely but at the same time feels composed thanks to its long wheelbase, allowing you to squeeze every precious second out of a descent. Even if you aren’t hunting for KOMs, the Kaius is always predictable and inspires huge amounts of confidence. While BMC’s new gravel rig is indeed a racer, for experienced riders it’s also a good companion for long tours.
While at first glance, the new Kaius 01 ONE 2023 could be mistaken for a Teammachine with a new paint finish, it’s a whole different beast. The latest offspring of BMC’s gravel family was designed specifically for gravel racing and rolls into the new season with elegant styling and many clever details. It’s not the nimblest from a standstill, but once it’s moving there’s nothing that can stop it. Not only is the new Kaius race-ready and race-proven (by us!) but also composed and comfortable enough to cut a fine figure on long tours outside the racing tapes.
- good damping characteristics
- very composed
- super clean look
- stretched riding position restricts its touring capabilities somewhat
For more info on the BMC Kaius 01 2023 visit bmc-switzerland.com.
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Words: Simon Kohler Photos: Jérémie Reuiller