Elite gravel racer, innovatively designed
Sometimes, the road less traveled is gravel. And for those daring enough to dance along its unpredictable surface, the BMC Kaius 01 TWO is a partner you’d want by your side. Straight from Switzerland, this Grenchen-born machine is no stranger to precision. The “Bicycle Manufacturing Company” – BMC for those in the know – is known for its commitment to design excellence and cutting-edge engineering. Established initially as a distributor for Raleigh in 1986, BMC transitioned into producing its own high-performance bikes in 2001.
One can’t help but admire the elegance of the Kaius. Its name, derived from Latin origins, implies a sense of “rejoice” – fitting for a bike that seems designed for celebration. The “01” subtly hints at its pioneering nature, while the “TWO” gives a nod to its place in the hierarchy of its kin, nestled right between the more modest THREE and the premium ONE.
If there's one thing that stood out to me right off the bat, it was the bike's heart and soul – its carbon frame. Lightweight, yet sturdy, the frame's weight of just 910g combined with other components results in an impressive total module weight of 1.785 kg. For those who love numbers, this means you're going to be cruising up terrains with minimized effort.
Speaking of terrains, the Kaius isn't afraid of a little rough and tumble. Its gravel-specific geometry – think longer reach and a forward-shifted front wheel – ensures stability on unpredictable surfaces. The shorter stem, meanwhile, offers responsive handling, a feature necessary for the changing demands of gravel routes.
On the topic of drivetrains, the Kaius stands out in a market that’s been steadily leaning towards 1x systems. BMC, with its rich road racing heritage, equips the Kaius with a 2x drivetrain. The advantage? Smoothness. Those seamless shifts from one gear to the next, without the occasional jarring ‘cha-chunk', make for a reassuringly fluid ride. Combined with SRAM FORCE eTap AXS wireless electronic shifting, the precision is hard to beat. It's a choice that felt right on both climbs and descents. And while electronic systems do present potential future failure points, the joy in the present is undeniable.
While the Kaius feels like a speed demon on smooth roads, it's on the gravel where it truly shines. That said, the aggressive and race-focused design does demand a bit more attention and skill on tougher descents. It's a ride that challenges you, pushing you to be a better cyclist, more attuned to the nuances of the path.
Yet, every rose has its thorn. The Kaius, for all its racing brilliance, does come up a tad short in versatility. Integrated bottle cages are a neat touch, but features like storage in the downtube or a dropper post are notably absent. For the price point, one might expect these additions. However, if the Kaius is to be your dedicated racer, these might be trade-offs you're willing to make.
Finally, let's talk aesthetics. The turquoise color scheme of this particular Kaius model is a head-turner. Combined with whites and shades of orange, it's a paint job that makes a statement as loud as its performance. Riding the Kaius felt like being on a showstopper motorcycle I once rode – a blend of admiration and envy from onlookers.
In conclusion, the BMC Kaius 01 TWO isn't for everyone. But for those it is designed for – those who seek speed, precision, and a dash of panache on gravel – it's a bike that asks one simple question: Are you ready to rejoice on the road less traveled?
- Elite Race Companion: The Kaius is designed for high performance on gravel roads, ensuring that riders have an optimal balance of stiffness, lightweight, and compliance for traction and stability.
- Innovative Design: The premium carbon layup uses ultra high-module fibers, resulting in unmatched stiffness for power transfer and minimized weight.
- Aerocore Design: A high level of functional integration where bottle cages are incorporated into the frame, optimizing aerodynamic performance.
- Lightweight: The Kaius is impressively lightweight, with the module weighing just 1.785 kg, enhancing speed and agility during climbs.
- Versatile: Kaius can accommodate both 1x and 2x drivetrains, tires up to 44mm, a dropper post, and bolt-on bags, catering to varied riding preferences.
- Effective 2x Drivetrain: The 2x drivetrain provides smooth shifting, allowing riders to optimize performance on both uphill climbs and downhill terrains.
- SRAM FORCE eTap AXS: The inclusion of wireless electronic shifting ensures precision and a modern touch to the shifting experience.
- Stellar Aesthetics: The Kaius boasts a standout paint job with a bold turquoise hue, ensuring riders will turn heads on the road.
- Pricey: With a $9K price tag, it's positioned in the premium range, which might not be affordable for all potential buyers.
- Potential Durability Concerns: With two battery-powered derailleurs, there are two potential points of failure, and replacements or repairs could be costly.
- Feels Predominantly Road-Oriented: Despite its gravel focus, the Kaius might feel a bit too much like a road bike for some gravel purists.
- Limited Extras: The Kaius might fall short for riders looking for features beyond racing, like storage in the downtube or an included dropper post.
- Lack of Versatility for Non-Racers: For those not focused solely on racing, the Kaius may not offer enough versatility, especially given its price point.