Beautiful Bicycle - A Gearhead's BMC URS LT Gravel Bike
It isn't often that one sees something as intriguing as this custom BMC URS LT gravel bike. This latest Beautiful Bicycle seems to have all the buzz words: a gravel bike with Shimano Dura-Ace electronic shifting and suspension. But there's more than that: this is perhaps the first Dura-Ace R9200 one-by drivetrain fitted to a bike. It is almost assuredly the first one fitted to a gravel bike, and will be one of a few to a bike with full suspension. And add the new Classified Powershift virtual front derailleur? We think this is a bike that might just be one-of-one.
The BMC URS LT is the logical next step in the BMC URS line. We were greatly impressed by the original URS, a gravel bike whose progressive, MTB-leaning geometry offered a completely different take on what a gravel bike is. It had a short stem like a mountain bike, and combined with a long front-center, its design blurred the lines between a gravel bike and a cross-country mountain bike. And while it used to be a truly unique offering, there are more and more bikes released that blur the lines even more.
If those lines weren’t already blurry, BMC’s new URS LT complicates things even more. An integrated suspension fork joins the unique gravel bike option found here. BMC went through great lengths to offer a suspension-corrected fork on the original URS, allowing something like the new Rockshox Rudy XPLR fork or a Fox 32 Taper-Cast with 50mm travel. The BMC’s integrated suspension offers just 20mm of suspension, but includes a twistable lockout on top of the stem, not unlike the Specialized FutureShock system. Add in the 10mm “suspension” out back and you have a bike that feels like a mountain bike, at least on paper.
It isn’t until you take a strong look at the bike that one begins to understand what’s going on here. 20mm suspension is even smaller when the fork’s 5mm sag is taken into account. That means that it is best suited to going fast over rough gravel and light singletrack, with its suspension system there to provide traction comfort through the chattery bits. It soaks up bumpy terrain in a way that a rigid gravel bike can’t and is a whole lot faster on the smooth stuff than a full-suspension bike. And if you’re into bicycle tech, you could see the outlines of what might very well be the future of gravel bikes.
The suspension aspect is just the start of this custom BMC URS LT. This bike features the latest Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 12-speed groupset, which is more a curated assortment than anything. This is the first 1x Dura-Ace 12s application we’ve seen anywhere, and certainly the first we’ve seen with an oval chainring. The Absolute Black oval chainring is paired to a SRAM Quarq power meter crank, which drives a Shimano M9100 12s chain. Paired with the wireless Dura-Ace shifters and Dura-Ace rear derailleur, this drivetrain shifts decisively and is about as smooth as one might expect.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this bike is the Classified drivetrain. For all of the interesting tech of the URS LT, BMC couldn’t fit the short chainstays and big tire clearance without sacrificing a front derailleur mount. That makes the URS a 1x-only proposition. But what if you want the range and small gear jumps of a 2x drivetrain? Well, if you’re not using Campagnolo Ekar (our review HERE), you choose a Classified Powershift hub.
If you are unfamilar with Classified, we broke down the details in our Classified Powershift review. The gist of it is that there is a virtual front derailleur incorporated in the rear hub. It is controlled by a small button, here placed on the left side of the handlebar. And with the 11-34t cassette used here, you get small jumps between gears to keep pedaling rhythm and a lower climbing gear when the going gets tough. To make it work, this bike is paired to a Classified G3.0 wheelset, which despite the internally geared hub, weighs an impressive 1,375g, or similar to an ENVE G23 wheelset.
Here are the bike’s complete specifications:
|Frameset||BMC URS LT Frameset with Hi-Ride - size XL|
|Shifters||Shimano Dura-Ace R9200|
|Derailleurs||Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 RD w/ Classified Powershift virtual FD|
|Crankset||SRAM Quarq DUB Carbon Crank w/ DZero Power Meter|
|Gearing||170mm crank, 48t Absolute Black Oval 1x chainring, 11-34t Classified cassette|
|Wheelset||Classified G 3.0CL|
|Tires||Rene Herse Hurricane Ridge - Dark Tan - 700c x 42mm|
|Brakes||Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 calipers, Shimano XTR MT900 - F180mm, R160mm|
|Handlebar||ENVE Gravel Handlebar - 42cm|
|Stem||Ritchey WCS C220 - 120mm|
|Handlebar Tape||ENVE Bar Tape - Black|
|Seatpost||URS 01 Carbon - D-Shaped|
|Accessories||Arundel Mandible Oil Slick Cages - Matte, Road Togs - Carbon, Cush Core CX/Gravel Tire Inserts|
Have any questions about the BMC URS LT gravel bike or want a custom one for yourself? Contact us any time or stop by the shop to learn more.
Words by Alvin Holbrook, images by Cody Wignall.