Think BMC, and you are more likely to come up with speedy-looking road and mountain bikes, rather than something designed for gravel. The Swiss brand might have been a little slow off the mark when it came to launching a gravel bike, but it is clearly keen to make up for lost time.
The URS (UnReStricted – no, we aren’t sure of the logic of the abbreviation either) has had a lot of design time thrown at it. Whether that translates to a better riding bike is another question, but for the time being, lets find out a little more.
BMC claims it has designed the URS to meet the needs of the “demanding and diverse” gravel rider. It applied its engineering expertise on an all-new platform designed for everything you might want to do on a drop bar off-road bike: from high-intensity gravel racing to backroad exploration.
“During our development of URS, we focused on creating a bike that would crush gravel and dirt roads, but also be capable and fun on twisty, high-speed terrain that’s technically challenging for current gravel bikes,” explains Mart Otten, Senior Product Manager Road at BMC Switzerland. “It’s easy to make a bike that rides well on a straight gravel road, so we pushed the boundaries of URS capability by implementing our progressive gravel geometry, huge tyre clearance, and dropper post compatibility, plus incorporating BMC’s proprietary Micro Travel Technology (MTT) for additional rough terrain performance.”
To meet the wide range of rider demands, the URS has some clever stuff going on. This being the bike world all this stuff has a fancy name, so forgive the Lots Of Capital Letters. First off, the URS uses a carbon frame. BMC spent a lot of time developing the lay-up of the carbon; “Tuned Compliance Concept Gravel”. This is a little more than just the lay-up.
BMC chose to use a D-shaped seat post, again to build in a little of compliance into the system. Finally, if all that wasn’t enough, the company has used its MTT damping system for even more vertical flex and traction. This is essentially 10mm of damping, isolating the seat tube from the seat-stay junction.
It’s not just about building in flex, though. BMC has decided to transfer mountain bike thinking across to gravel, designing the URS with a relatively slack 70º head angle, long reach and short stem (55cm or 70cm, depending on frame size). That stubby stem uses the company’s ICS integrated stem – tucking cable routing internally, for a particularly tidy looking front end. It’s the kind of thing that we expect mechanics will hate, but might be beneficial for bikepacking with a bar roll – fewer cables to get in the way.
The BMC URS is 1x specific, but with the release of Shimano GRX, there’s a few more options for riders who don’t want to go down the SRAM route. The bike also features the kind of stuff that we’ve come to expect from gravel bikes, even if they aren’t quite universal yet.
The URS comes with clearance for 700c x 45mm tyres, features dropper-post compatibility, three water bottle mounts and top tube mounts. There are standard mudguard mounts, but BMC also includes a minimalist bum-fender (Dfender) to mount to the seatpost and keep the worst of the spray off your rear end. The bike also comes with dynamo routing, for those who want to go long on their rides.
There are four specs available, thoughtfully named the URS One, Two, Three and Four. The top-spec “One” comes with SRAM Red/Eagle AXS mash up and DT Swiss GRC 1400 Spline carbon wheels. The “Two” is no less blingy, swapping the SRAM for Shimano GRX, but keeping the electronic shifting. The “Three” keeps a Shimano theme, using mechanical GRX. Finally the “Four” returns to SRAM, with an Apex based groupset.
- URS ONE: £8,999
- URS TWO: £5,999
- URS THREE: £3,999
- URS FOUR: £2,999
More information from BMC.