BMC has introduced a URS LT gravel bike into its line-up with coil-sprung front suspension to go with the existing MTT (Micro Travel Technology) rear suspension system that adds 10mm of travel to the stays.
“A demand for adaptability and flexibility is key to the revised design of the URS, which includes customisable suspension and stack height, compatibility with 1x mechanical and electronic drivetrains as well as internal cable routing for a dropper post, a hub dynamo system, plus top tube mounts and more,” says BMC.
Taking the suspension first, BMC has collaborated with HiRide to create a new MTT fork with 20mm of coil-sprung travel in the steerer/head tube and a hydraulic damper. BMC says that the fork “allows riders to run optimal tyre pressures while significantly elevating the bike’s capabilities across all surfaces”, although the suspension curve has been optimised for gravel.
BMC says that the HiRide design allowed it "to retain the design and geometry of the fork's blades and crown while packing a full-featured, reliable suspension system in the head tube".
"We recognise the modern gravel tyres are incredibly capable at providing traction, rolling efficiency and damping the high-frequency vibrations, measured above 50Hz, caused by small obstacles," says BMC.
"Gravel tyres, however, find their limits on bigger obstacles like road cracks, bigger rocks and roots: the impacts these obstacles create cannot be filtered by the tyres unless very low pressures are used, compromising safety and rolling resistance.
"The MTT suspension fork is designed to overcome the limits of gravel tyres to avoid the performance compromises, damping more than 46% of the impacts typical of gravel riding that generate vibrations in the 10-50 Hz range. The bigger the impact, the lower the vibration frequency generated.
"The fine-tuned suspension performance of the MTT fork adapts to a wide range of terrains, complementing sporty and efficient riding styles while filtering out obstacles for a plush and confidence-inspiring riding feel."
The suspension unit comprises two shells. The lower steel shell contains the hydraulic chamber while the upper shell contains the coil spring and acts as the fork steerer.
The headset compressor is threaded directly in the fork steerer with the lockout knob located at the top of the headset assembly.
Specialized offers its Future Shock suspension (found in its Diverge gravel bike and Roubaix endurance road bike ranges) in a 20mm version, although the design is quite different. With Future Shock it's just the stem and handlebar that are suspended.
“In short-travel applications, coil suspension brings a host of benefits including heightened sensitivity in the first phase of travel and on light impacts (typical scenario for gravel and mellow off-road terrain) whilst staying responsive and plush under mid-to-heavy impacts,” says BMC.
“Furthermore, no weight penalty, a simple, durable design that requires less maintenance, and, unlike short-travel suspension that features air spring with limited volume, coil springs are essentially immune to overheating on long descents.”
The recently released RockShox Rudy Ultimate XPLR fork features the brand’s Solo Air spring and either 30mm or 40mm of travel.
Three different spring stiffnesses and preload spacers allow you to tune the performance according to your height, weight and style of riding. You can lock out the suspension when you don’t need it, while 4cm of stack adjustment in the steerer allows you to alter your ride position.
The URS LT uses the same Tuned Compliance Concept (TCC) features at the rear as the existing URS bikes: a dedicated carbon layup, a D-shape seatpost, and Micro Travel Technology (MTT) stays.
BMC describes MTT as “a time-tested, mountain bike-influenced extra layer of compliance at the rear end with an XCell elastomer giving 10mm of travel… that improves traction and control on technical terrain in a featherweight, reliable and seamlessly integrated design”.
The URS LT is built to BMC’s Gravel+ geometry with a 70° head tube angle.
“This geometry system has taken cues from cross-country mountain biking: the slacker head angle combined with a long top tube and short stem gives superlative stability at high speeds and snappier steering, perfect for modern, aggressive gravel riding where precise line choice counts more at the extreme end of the genre,” says BMC.
Several other brands take a broadly similar approach, such as Merida with its Silex bikes.
BMC also boasts that the URS LT comes with cable routing for hub dynamos.
“In addition, the URS LT sticks to certain time-tested features from its predecessor: 180/160 mm flat-mount discs for powerful stopping, up to 700x45mm tyres, integrated protectors on the fork dropout, down tube and chainstays, a functional top tube mount to bolt-on top tube bags, battery lights or other accessories, BMC’s integrated Dfender for the sleekest protection against rear wheel-spray, plus compatibility with lightweight racks and mudguards enabling the rider to choose their most appropriate set-up,” says BMC.
The URS LT is available in four sizes (S-XL) and two models.
The URS LT ONE (£7,600) comes in a SRAM Force eTap AXS build with a single 38T chainset and a SRAM Eagle 10-52T cassette.
The URS LT TWO (£5,700) has a SRAM Rival eTap AXS groupset and the same gear sizes.
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.