BMC launches the Kius, its first gravel race bike

Today BMC announced the Kius, an all-new model to its lineup and its entry into the gravel racing space. This new model borrows heavily from BMC’s existing integrated and exclusive road designs with hidden wiring, integrated (but not exclusive) water bottle cages and an overall aesthetic that you can choose from a mile away. Meanwhile, it offers expanded tire clearance and gear range options over BMC’s pre-existing URS gravel bike.

We plan to get our hands on the Kaius soon for a longer-term review, but in the meantime, here are some key details you should know.

A gravel-specific approach

The Kius may be BMC’s gravel race bike, but it’s not the Swiss company’s first foray into gravel riding. The company launched its rather innovative go-anywhere URS platform in 2019, and has since followed it up with a front-sprung version in the URS LT. By comparison, the Kius somewhat bridges the gap between the company’s sporty endurance road bike, the Roadmachine, and mountain bike’s URS.

As you would expect for a new carbon bike release, BMC says the Kius’ carbon layup was designed to be stiff, light and compliant. This compliance is said to be somewhere between Teammachine and the URS. However, one hears less often in newer racing bike builds the claim of crashworthiness in areas susceptible to bumps, which BMC also claims.

The geometry borrows the longer reach and shorter stem introduced with the URS, but the Kius doesn’t go quite as far with the mountain bike-inspired concept. Compared to the URS, the effective reach numbers (frame reach plus stem length) are longer, while the stack heights are lower, which together result in a stance closer to the road. Meanwhile, wheelbases are a few centimeters shorter, partly due to the 5mm shorter chainstays (420mm length), but mainly due to the 2° steeper head angle (72°) and shorter fork offset (45mm for most sizes). Additionally, the URS was designed for good ground clearance in rough terrain, while the Kius sits significantly lower with its 80mm bottom bracket drop.

Like the URS BMC, the Kaius Geometry Chart offers some interesting numbers. The chosen stem lengths and bar widths (covered below) raise an eyebrow for me.

As you would expect for a race bike, the Kius should offer slightly quicker steering with its 68mm trail figure (based on a 40mm tire). This figure, which is far from the shortest track figure, almost replicates the company’s stable-handling road race bikes once you factor in the larger tire size.

Road bike integration

BMC has long been at the forefront of integrating cables into drop-bar bikes. In 2016, the Roadmachine was one of the first to hide disc brake cables and hoses inside the stem and through the upper headset bearing. Meanwhile, the URS 01 was arguably the first gravel bike to receive such aesthetic cleanliness. The Kius borrows the company’s ICS system but improves integration (at least with the top-end model) with a one-piece handlebar and stem that’s effectively a gravel version of what was introduced with the latest Teammachine SLR01 .

Designed to add aerodynamic advantage (and perhaps most importantly, look good), this one-piece ICS Carbon Aero cockpit weighs just 315 grams. What’s somewhat unexpected is that all six frame sizes share the same narrow-width handlebar, which measures just 360mm at the top and flares out to 420mm at the drops 12.5°). BMC says this narrower width follows recent trends in road racing to reduce the frontal profile of the rider. However, I expect taller riders to have a steep learning curve getting used to this particular product decision. And it’s worth noting that BMC doesn’t just try to use the same bar for all sizes, as integrated stem lengths vary by frame size.

The ICS Carbon Aero Cockpit is actually a more obviously flared version of what is fitted on the latest Teammachine SLR01.

Those not looking at the higher-end Kius will find a more size-appropriate two-piece handlebar assembly that retains BMC’s ICS hidden wiring. This two-piece bar and stem will probably weigh around 100 grams more, but at least you’ll get size-appropriate bar widths.

Speaking of weight, BMC claims a figure of 910 grams for a 56cm Kius frame. Add another 400 grams for the fork, then just 160 grams for the surprisingly light D-shaped seatpost. Claimed module weight of 1.785kg (including ICS Carbon Aero cockpit) makes the Kius one of the lightest gravel racing packages on the market.

Further integration is seen with BMC’s Aerocore concept, which integrates BMC’s unique bottle cages into the tube profiles, much like what we’ve seen offered with recent road models (regular bottle cages can be fitted in place). And as expected, all of the truncated airfoil tube profiles closely match what other Teammachine and BMC road bikes offer.

Other details shared with the Teammachine include closed thru-axle dropouts (with no visible threads on the drive-side dropouts) and press-fit PF86 (Shimano-style) bottom bracket shell.

Things you’re not locked into

Our fairly recent review of the BMC URS LT mentioned that the 700×42mm tire clearance and 1x gear-only compatibility shows the design age of the frame. After all, many new gravel bikes offer more tire clearance without having to give up the front derailleur, and fortunately the Kius is no longer an exception. BMC’s new gravel bike offers room for up to 700 x 44mm tires (based on 6mm surrounding clearance) and front derailleur compatibility, while shortening the chainstays compared to the URS . And that increase in space doesn’t come with any weird trade-offs and is instead the result of recent trends of making the chainstays super narrow between tire and chainring, as well as gravel-specific groupset offsetting the chainring a bit. .

Like the URS, the Kius features a flexible D-shaped seatpost that can be swapped out pretty smartly for a 27.2mm dropper post (using a shim that creates a surface round at the back of the seat tube). Up front, bikes equipped with the ICS two-piece handlebar and stem can gain more comfort with BMC’s Recently Announced MTT Suspension Rod – a collaboration with Redshift Sports. Finally, there are the prerequisite bolts for a top tube snack bag.

Models and prices

BMC released the Karius in a choice of three models.

At the top level—and the only one to feature the one-piece handlebar and stem—is the Kius 01 One. Priced at US$12,000 / €11,500, this model saves little money with a SRAM RED AXS XPLR 1x groupset, Zipp 303 Firecrest wheels and 40mm wide Pirelli Cinturato Gravel H tires.

At the top of the range is the Kius 01 One.

Spend US$9,000/€8,500 and you’ll get the Kius 01 Two, which features the same frame, fork and seatpost, but upgrades to BMC’s RCB01 Carbon handlebars and separate ICS2 stem instead. This model features a SRAM Force AXS Wide 2×12 groupset and rolls on Zipp’s entry-level 303 S carbon wheelset.

Finally, the Kius 01 Three will retail for US$6,000 / €5,500 and features the same frame module as the Two. This model features a SRAM Rival AXS Wide 2×12 groupset and has BMC’s own tubeless-ready 40mm deep carbon wheels (the same ones that came with our tested URS LT).

The Kaius 01 Two.
And the Kaius 01 Three.

More soon

There’s a lot going on with this bike, and we can assure you that it’s not the only all-around gravel race bike that looks like a road bike you’ll see released this year. Expect a detailed review of this bike in the coming months.

Wiley C. Thompson